The Municipal polls in Jammu and Kashmir that is taking place after a gap of 13 years, on Monday witnessed long queues in Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch districts while people barely arrived in the valley booths that wore a deserted look.
Enthusiastic voters lined up outside the polling stations in Gandhi Nagar, R.S.Pura, Arnia, Jurian, Khour, Akhnoor, Bishnah, Nowshera, Surankote, Kalakote, and at many other places from 7 a.m., as the polling began.
In the valley, the scene was just the opposite as the first phase of civic polls began amid boycott calls by the two key parties in the state — the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party.
A total of 218 votes were cast in the first two hours for the Baramulla Municipal Council, a poll official said.
A municipal ward in Budgam registered just four votes till 9 a.m., while eight votes were cast at one of the polling stations in Bandipora district, which registered 187 votes in two hours, the official said.
Kupwara registered 545 votes in 11 wards during the same time, while Handwara, where one of the prominent voters was MLA Sajjad Gani Lone, registered 263 votes.
In south Kashmir’s Anantnag, few voters turned out in Kokernag, Qazigund, Achabal and Devsar.
Reports from Leh and Kargil towns of Ladakh region said biting cold kept voters away, though the process was expected to pick ip as the day progressed and warmed up. Polling will end at 4 p.m.
Elections are being held in 422 of the state’s 1,145 municipal wards under heavy security.
As many as 1,204 candidates are in the fray for the four-phased municipal election, which will end on October 16. Counting of votes will take place on October 20.
Amid tight security arrangements, voting for the first phase of urban local bodies (ULB) elections in Jammu and Kashmir is underway.
Municipal committee Bandipora
Till 10:00 am around 1.39 percent votes have been recorded. Of 260 votes polled so far, 173 are from male and 87 from females.
At 11:00 am1.89 percent votes have been recorded. 0f 321 votes polled, 222 are from males and 99 females.
Srinagar Municipal Corporation
Till 10:00 am no votes have been cast at Bemina F and E polling booths of ward 16 (Hamdania Colony) while 233 votes have been polled at Bemina-H and 11 votes at Bemina-G polling stations. At Bemina I -11 polling station, 154 votes were cast till 10:30 am.
Municipal Council Baramulla
Till 11:00 a.m 648 votes have been polled in 15 wards of Baramulla municipal council in north Kashmir’s Baramulla.
An official said that 2.48 percent votes have been recorded till 11 a.m and people in long queues can be seen at various polling booths in the town.
Out of 648 votes, an official said that 383 males and 265 females exercised their franchise.
Out of 21 wards, 15 wards are going to polls in the first phase of the Baramulla municipal elections today with 26,149 voters. At 6 wards, officials said that candidates won unopposed.
Meanwhile, government forces have been deployed in Baramulla to avoid any untoward incident. All the polling stations in Baramulla have been declared as sensitive
Municipal Committee Kokernag
Till 11 am, at ward 13 seven votes have been cast out of 904 votes. At ward 9, one vote has been cast out of 264 votes. Similarly, at ward 11 only one vote was cast out of 218 votes. However, 69 votes were casted out of 276 at ward 5.
Meanwhile, Media persons were Monday prevented by Government forces from discharging their duties at Handwara in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
Photojournalists working for major newspapers informed Kashmir Post that they were not allowed to cover ULB polls at Handwara.
“We are not even allowed to move freely. The cops told us that there was clear direction from the district authorities not to allow media persons to cover the ULB polls,” said a photojournalist, Shoeb Masoodi.
However, a Handwara-based newsman said that journalists were allowed to cover the polls later.
Meanwhile, a group of voters prevented photo and video journalists from covering polls at Bemina area Srinagar.
Witnesses said voters prevented photojournalists from taking pictures at a polling booth set up at government boy’s high school Bemina.
They said photojournalists working with various media organisations had gone to cover the ULB polls, however, the voters objected to their duties.
Meanwhile, Mobile Internet service was barred in south Kashmir while the speed was reduced to 2G in rest of the valley in view of ongoing municipal polls.
An official said the mobile Internet services have been suspended in South Kashmir in the view of the first phase of urban local bodies’ polls.
He said the mobile Internet speed has been reduced to 2G in other parts of the Kashmir valley as a “precautionary measure” to maintain law and order.
Meanwhile, voting is underway in 422 wards out of a total 1145 in the state during the first phase of local bodies’ polls which began at 7 am.
Voting began at 7 am today in the districts of Anantnag (4 wards), Budgam (1 ward), Bandipora (16 wards, Baramulla (15), Jammu (153), Kargil (13), Kupwara (18), Leh (13), Poonch (26), Rajouri (59) and Srinagar (3 wards).