52 per cent voters across J&K batted for democracy defying poll boycott calls of separatists
Braving chilly winds over 50 per cent electorate Saturday batted for democracy, ignoring poll boycott calls given by the separatists while participating in the maiden District Development Council polls after the Abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A in Jammu and Kashmir.
The State Election Commissioner KK Sharma told reporters, “Polling has been by-and-large peaceful in 43 constituencies of DDC that went to polls today in which 3,62,766 voters including 1,93,375 males and 1,69,391 females out of 7,00,842 voters, voted to choose their representatives in their respective councils.
The overwhelming response by the common masses across Jammu and Kashmir also helped puncture the specially crafted narrative built by a section of Kashmiri leadership that the local residents were unhappy and not keen on participating in the poll process.
West Pakistani Refugees also celebrated the festival of democracy
As the day progressed a large number of voters following all possible Covid-19 guidelines started queuing up outside polling booths located in the backdrop of snow-clad mountains, wearing traditional pherans.
Elaborate security arrangements were made by the state election commission to ensure incident-free polling across 43 seats, 25 in Kashmir region and 18 in Jammu region.
West Pakistani Refugees celebrated the festival of democracy for the first time while exercising their right to franchise.
First-time voters while sharing their emotions maintained, “they were deprived of their voting rights for all these years. After the Abrogation of Article 370 last year they were granted the domicile status and today they were able to exercise their right to franchise in the DDC polls”.
Youngsters, along with a huge army of women voters accompanied elderly population to the nearest polling booth to cast their vote and elect their public representatives for the first time to occupy seats in the District Development Councils in each district.
Sharing complete details of the voting percentage across 20 districts of Jammu and Kashmir, the State Election Commissioner KK Sharma said, ” in the first phase of DDC polls no major incident of violence was reported from anywhere in the region. He said the entire poll process passed off peacefully in which over 3.62 lakh voters participated”.
According to him, the Kashmir region recorded 40.65 per cent polling while Jammu region recorded over 64 per cent voter turnout.
Presenting a micro picture, around 46.6 per cent women and 54 per cent male electorate came out to vote during the day.
In the first phase, a total number of 1427 candidates were in the fray for the DDC polls and Panchayat bypolls.
The state election commission had made elaborate security arrangements across 2146 polling stations to ensure incident-free polling.
In Jammu province, Reasi District recorded the highest polling at 74.62 per cent. The twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch too recorded healthy voter turnout. Rajouri recorded 70.52 per cent polling while Poonch reported 68.69 per cent polling during the first phase of polling.
In Kashmir Division, Budgam district recorded the highest polling at 56.96 % followed by Kupwara District at 50.74% and Ganderbal with around 48.62% polling.
Giving the district wise details about the DDC, the SEC informed that in Kashmir Division, the polling percentage recorded in Bandipora was 43.57%, Baramulla 32.51%, Srinagar 33.76%, Pulwama 6.70%, Shopian 42.58%, Kulgam 34.35%, Anantnag 43.32% voters cast their votes.
At many places, women outnumbered men to exercise their franchise, thus amply displaying the deep roots democracy has taken among masses.
Similarly, in Jammu division Kishtwar recorded a voting percentage of 55.16%, Doda 64.49%, Ramban 64.21%, Udhampur 57.13%, Kathua 62.82%, Samba 68.61% and Jammu 61.49% people exercise their right to the franchise during the first phase of elections.
The SEC said that the DDC elections will play a decisive role in development at a grass-root level. He appreciated every stakeholder for their tireless efforts for the successful conduct of the polling process. Adequate security personnel were deployed at all polling stations to ensure the smooth conduct of the polls, he said.
At many places, women outnumbered men to exercise their franchise, thus amply displaying the deep roots democracy has taken among masses. Age or physical health couldn’t deter voters from exercising their choice. Rolha Ram 92-year-old voter cast his vote at PS Mandrian Akhnoor and so did Mushtaq Ahmad, a 32-year-old disabled voter in Khri Ramban.
The scene wasn’t different across the various constituencies of Kashmir valley. Long queues of voters were seen in Harwan, Khonmoh areas of Srinagar district whereas similar scenes were witnessed from Keller Shopian, Larnoo Anantnag, DH Pora Kulgam, Sumbal Bandipora and other areas of Kashmir region.
Likewise, the winter chill didn’t deter the enthusiasm of voters in far off areas of Tulail and Gurez valley of Kashmir division where brisk polling was recorded from the morning hours.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.