Over 16 percent voting in Jammu and Kashmir (Lead)

May 13th, 2009 - 3:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Baramulla, May 13 (IANS) Over 16 percent voting was recorded in Jammu and Kashmir’s Baramulla and Ladakh constituencies until 11 a.m. Wednesday after a slow start early in the day amid a boycott call by separatists.
“Upto 11 a.m. 15.83 percent voters cast their votes in Baramulla and 16.82 percent in Ladakh,” an official said.

Voting picked up in the first four hours in north Kashmir’s Baramulla, which has been a hotbed of militancy and a stronghold of pro-Pakistan separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani.

Voters were seen queuing up in large numbers in Rafiabad, Langate, Kupwara, Bandipora, Gurez, Uri, Karnah and Sonawari assembly segments of the parliamentary constituency.

“In Kupwara district the voter turnout till 11 a.m. was 22.9 percent, in Bandipora district 12.01 and in Baramulla district it was 7.2,” the official said.

“So far polling has been peaceful throughout the Baramulla and Ladakh constituencies and no untoward incident has been reported from anywhere,” a police officer told IANS.

Baramulla is witnessing a triangular contest between Sharief-ud-Din Shariq (National Conference), Mohammed Dilawar Mir (Peoples Democratic Party) and Sajjad Gani Lone of the separatist People’s Conference.

All eyes are on Lone, the surprise entrant in the poll ring. Lone is the first separatist leader in Kashmir to contest the polls since an armed uprising broke out in 1989.

Voting in cold desert region of Ladakh also picked up as the day progressed.

Four candidates are in the fray from Buddhist-dominated Ladakh. The main contest is between P. Namgyal (Congress) and Ghulam Hassan Khan (independent).

Ladakh has always been polarised between Buddhist and Muslim voters.

Senior separatist leaders including Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik are under house arrest to prevent anti-poll protests.

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