Voting picks up slowly amid sporadic protests in ValleyDecember 7th, 2008 - 1:49 pm ICT by IANS
Baramulla (North Kashmir) Dec 7 (IANS) Moderate to brisk polling was underway in 12 constituencies of the Kashmir Valley which went to polls Sunday in the fourth of the seven-phase elections in Jammu and Kashmir. Polling began Sunday in six constituencies of the Hindu-dominated Jammu region also.
Brisk voting was on in Uri, which registered 12 percent turnout in the first two hours of polling which began 8 a.m., followed by Gulmarg (seven), Pattan (4.5) and Rafiabad (four) constituencies of this north Kashmir district.
Polling is yet to pick up in the apple-rich Sopore, Sangrama and Baramulla constituencies in the same district. In Sopore, the hometown of separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, the turnout was four percent till 10 a.m. and no untoward incident was reported.
Sangrama reported 13 percent polling and Baramulla the lowest of 1.5. Officials said the polling in the north Kashmir region should be seen in the context of freezing temperatures and boycott calls by militants.
Reports from the central Badgam district indicate brisk polling at Khansahib (13 percent), Chadura (five), Beerwah (three), Badgam (6.9) and Charar-e-Sharief constituencies (2.3) there.
Long queues of voters were seen at many polling stations in Gulmarg constituency of Baramulla district where voters turned up right in the morning to exercise their franchise.
Voters also queued up in Singhpora and Hanjiwara villages, while voting was yet to pick up in Palhalan and Pattan towns of the Pattan constituency of Baramulla.
However, in the Shia Muslim majority villages of Pattan constituency, brisk polling was on.
Small anti-poll demonstrations took place at a few places in Sopore but the police and paramilitary forces chased the protesters away.
In Delina town of Baramulla constituency, an anti-poll protest was held by some local youth outside a polling station.
“The miscreants have been chased away and brisk polling is now going on at the polling station in Delina”, a police officer said.
In Chadura constituency of central Badgam district, a large number of people gathered to vote in Lasjan, Gowharpora and other polling stations. There was similar voter enthusiasm in Kramshore village of Khansahib constituency.
In Beerwah, Badgam and Charar-e-Sharief constituencies also, voting was picking up. “Polling is taking place normally without any major incident. We expect more voters to come out by midday”, a poll official told IANS.