Brisk voting continues in Jammu and Kashmir (Lead)

December 7th, 2008 - 11:13 am ICT by IANS  

Jammu/Srinagar, Dec 7 (IANS) Voting continued at a brisk pace Sunday in 18 constituencies in the fourth of the seven-phase Jammu and Kashmir elections with people turning up in large numbers to exercise their franchise. Neither the winter chill nor the call for poll boycott by separatists could deter the enthusiastic voters in a dozen constituencies in the Kashmir Valley and six in the Hindu-dominated Jammu region.

A posse of security personnel from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the local police was deployed in strength to ensure peaceful polling. The state assembly has 87 seats.

As many as 1.4 million people are eligible to vote in the Kashmir Valley’s Baramulla and Badgam districts and the Jammu region’s Udhampur and Reasi districts.

Right from 8 a.m. when polling began, people had started gathering in all but one constituency in the Valley despite the inclement weather. Very few voters had turned up in the apple-rich Sopore constituency in Baramulla.

In most of the polling stations in the Valley, women seemed as eager to vote as men.

In the Jammu region, there was enthusiasm to vote just like in the previous three phases of polling. This phase will cover the Hindu majority pockets of Jammu district.

The constituencies, which went to the polls in the Valley are Baramulla, Uri, Sangrama, Sopore, Rafiabad, Pattan and Gulmarg in Baramulla district and Khansahib, Beerwah, Badgam, Charar-e-Sharief and Chadura in Badgam district.

As many as 902,951 people are eligible to vote at 1,172 polling stations in the 12 constituencies. All the voting centres have been described as sensitive, meaning there could be trouble there.

There are 176 candidates, including 13 senior politicians and former ministers, in the fray for the 12 seats.

In the Jammu region, polling was in progress for Udhampur, Chenani and Ramnagar (Scheduled Caste) seats in Udhampur district and Reasi, Arnas and Gulabgarh in Reasi district.

Over 498,000 voters here have a choice of 81 candidates in the six seats. There are 721 polling centres.

Each of the dozen constituencies in the Valley has local factors influencing the voters’ preferences, while there are multi-cornered contests in the Jammu region with a large number of candidates trying their luck.

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