Over 25 percent voting in Kashmir’s Baramulla (Second Lead)

May 13th, 2009 - 4:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Baramulla, May 13 (IANS) Over 25 percent voting was recorded in Jammu and Kashmir’s Baramulla constituency until 1 p.m. Wednesday after a slow start early in the day despite a boycott call by separatists and threats from militant groups.
The state’s cold desert region Ladakh saw a turnout of over 32 percent, an official said.

The voting percentage in Baramulla, once a hotbed of militancy and a stronghold of pro-Pakistan separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, was better than in Anantnag and Srinagar constituencies in the Kashmir Valley.

The two constituencies, which voted in earlier rounds of staggered Lok Sabha elections, had recorded an overall percentage of 26 and 24 respectively.

“Up to 1 p.m. 25.54 percent voters cast their votes in Baramulla and 32.09 percent in Ladakh,” an official said.

The official said the Baramulla figure will go up as people in large numbers were outside various polling stations waiting to exercise their franchise.

Voters were seen in long queues in Rafiabad, Langate, Kupwara, Bandipora, Gurez, Uri, Karnah and Sonawari assembly segments of the parliamentary constituency.

“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 picked up as the day progressed in Buddhist-dominated Ladakh where four candidates are in the fray. 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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