Brisk voting in Jammu and Kashmir (Third Lead)November 23rd, 2008 - 5:36 pm ICT by IANS
Srinagar/Jammu, Nov 23 (IANS) Brisk voting was recorded in Jammu and Kashmir Sunday as people gathered in large numbers outside polling stations to exercise their franchise in round two of the assembly elections.By 2 p.m., 35 percent of the pollsters had cast their votes in Ganderbal and Kangan constituencies of the Kashmir Valley even as the voting was significantly higher in four constituencies in the Jammu region.
“The voting process will pick up and we are expecting a fairly good voter turnout in both Kangan and Ganderbal,” said a poll official in the valley, where the process got off to a sluggish start at 8 a.m. because of the morning chill.
In Jammu region, Kalakot and Rajouri recorded 50 percent, in Nowshera 46 percent and in Darhal 49 percent.
Defying Muslim separatists’ boycott call, 64 percent of voters polled Nov 17 in the first phase of the staggered elections that end Dec 24 in the state.
No serious untoward incident was reported except for clashes between supporters of National Conference (NC) and other parties at half a dozen polling stations in Darhal and Rajouri constituencies in Jammu region. Polling was briefly disrupted at these places.
In Darhal, police also had to open fire to disperse two stone-pelting groups.
The total number of voters in the two constituencies in the Valley is 137,560 and there are 22 candidates in the fray.
A total of 142 polling stations were set up in the Ganderbal district out of which 79 have been set up for Ganderbal and 63 for Kangan constituency.
The contesting candidates include the regional NC president Omar Abdullah, who is fighting elections from Ganderbal and is pitched against 11 other candidates including Qazi Muhammad Afzal of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Sheikh Muhammad Ashfaq of the Congress.
Abdullah had lost to Afzal in Ganderbal, known as a NC bastion, in the 2002 election.
In Kangan constituency, a senior Gujjar leader and former minister Mian Altaf Ahmad is contesting the polls against nine other candidates including Bashir Ahmad Mir of the PDP.
There are 353,457 voters in the four constituencies of Rajouri district’s difficult mountainous terrain.
Polling began here briskly in the backdrop of issues like lack of development, poor connectivity, infrastructure and communication, unemployment and poverty.
In all, 454 polling stations have been set up here. Poonch Deputy Commissioner Rafiq Khan said 96 of the balloting stations have been marked out as hyper sensitive and 181 sensitive.
“We have made arrangements for stand-by polling stations that are close to the Line of Control (LoC) in case of any eventuality. Though there is a ceasefire between India and Pakistan since 2003, we cannot take chances.”
There are 59 candidates in the fray in Rajouri district. Rajouri constituency has the maximum number of candidates at 23, followed by 13 in Kalakot, 12 in Darhal and 11 in Nowshera.