Kashmir Valley recorded just three percent voter turnout in the second phase of urban local body elections on Wednesday as parts of summer capital Srinagar and southern Anantnag town witnessed a near-total boycott of the electoral exercise. However the areas that went to polls in Jammu province witnessed brisk polling throughout the day.
According to J&K’s chief electoral officer Shaleen Kabra, the overall voter turnout in the second phase was 31.3 percent.
“78.6% polling was witnessed in 214 wards of Jammu while Kashmir division witnessed average 3.4% polling in its 49 wards, during the second phase of ULB elections,” he said, adding that Sumbal town in northern Bandipora district recorded the highest 35.6 % voting among Kashmir areas that went to polls Wednesday.
The voting percentage in Kashmir plummeted by five percent in comparison to the first phase figures, to end at 3.4 percent at the culmination of the voting time. The turnout in the Valley areas in the first phase was 8.2 percent.
On expected lines, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation areas of Batamaloo and Habba Kadal assembly segments recorded barely 2.3 percent voter turnout, according to official figures released by the CEO this evening. In the 2014 assembly elections, these two constituencies had recorded more than 20 percent turnout.
The story of southern Anantnag town was no different as the polling percentage within its municipal limits stood at 1.1 percent, much lower than Srinagar, at the end of the voting time.
The election was held for only 16 wards in the town as candidates in nine others were declared elected unopposed. While 38 candidates were in fray, only 368 votes were polled out of more than 32,000 in the town’s municipal body.
Southern Kashmir has witnessed a spurt in local youth joining militancy and civilian protests following the killing of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in 2016.
In Langate municipal committee in northern Kupwara district, where the election was held for two out of 13 wards today, the polling percentage stood at 5.1 percent, officials said.
In nearby Watergam municipal committee, 7 percent voter turnout was recorded as only 19 votes were polled out of 270, they said.
The election was held for only one ward of Watergam town in Rafiabad area of northern Baramulla district where candidates have been declared elected unopposed in eight wards, whereas no contestant was in fray for four other wards. In total, the town has 13 wards. Interestingly, all 19 voters were male.
However, the northern Sumbal town, nearly 25 kilometers from Srinagar, presented a different picture as long queues of voters were seen at some polling booths since 6 am. Till 7 am, 0.73 percent turnout was recorded here, while the overall polling in the town stood at 35.6 percent.
According to CEO Kabra, 78.6 percent polling was recorded in 214 wards of Jammu province spread over 18 urban local bodies. He said the highest polling percentage in Jammu was recorded in Reasi which saw a turnout of 84.4%.
In Jammu province, 72.8 percent turnout was recorded in Kishtwar, 72.8 percent in Doda, 79.5 percent in Ramban, 79.2 percent in Udhampur and 79.4 in Kathua.
An official told Kashmir Post that re-poll shall be held at one polling station in Anantnag town due to malfunctioning of the electronic voting machine.
“Election will be held afresh in one ward of Ramban where a BJP candidate died after casting his vote,” he said.
The Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik has asked people to stay away from elections as “these are no substitute for right to self-determination and the resolution of Kashmir issue.” Also, two major mainstream political parties—the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party—have boycotted the civic polls, citing “assault” on Article 35-A which has been challenged in the Supreme Court.