24 percent voting in Srinagar

May 7th, 2009 - 8:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, May 7 (IANS) Voting in Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency concluded peacefully Thursday as over 24 percent of the electorate voted amid a separatist boycott call and threats from militant groups.
Though the exact poll percentage for the constituency was still being worked out, officials said nearly 265,000 of the over 1.1 million eligible voters exercised their democratic right.

Voter turnout was lowest in Habba Kadal assembly segment of the city where just 1.6 percent voters exercised their franchise till 4 p.m, an hour before the polling closed.

In sharp contrast, nearly 50 percent electors voted in Charar-e-Sharief.

In Kangan 40 percent, Ganderbal 28 percent, Khansahib 30 percent and in Chadoora 27 percent votes were cast till 4 p.m.

There were minor anti-poll protests and a crude petrol bomb was hurled at a polling station by unidentified people in Lal Bazar area of the city which caused no damage.

Anti-poll protesters pelted stones at some polling stations in uptown and old city areas. But police chased away the protestors.

Separatist leaders have asked people in Jammu and Kashmir to stay away from the poll process and militant groups - the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the United Jehad Council based in Pakistan - have said if people voted they will be doing so “at their own peril”.

Separatist had also called for a 50-hour valley-wide shutdown, which also affected the voter turnout in most of the urban segments.

In around two dozen polling stations in the city, not a single vote had been cast till 3 p.m.

The main contest in this constituency is between the ruling National Conference candidate Farooq Abdullah and Iftekhar Hussain Ansari of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The PDP accused the National Conference of using bogus voters at some places in the city while the ruling party supporters claimed to have caught around two dozen people who they said had been moving around to cast bogus votes in favour of the PDP candidate in Hazratbal.

A by-election in Sonawar assembly constituency was held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections and according to the officials, 21 percent voters cast their votes till 4 p.m.

The contest for the assembly by-poll is mainly between the National Conference’s Yasin Shah and Mohammed Ashraf Mir of the PDP.

The assembly seat had fallen vacant afer National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah vacated prior to seeking election for the Rajya Sabha earlier this year.

Most of separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, were also placed under house arrest to prevent their participation in anti-poll protests.

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