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Monday, 24 November 2008

62 per cent polling in JAMMU AND KASHMIR

GANDERBAL/KANGAN: Defying the boycott call given by separatists, a large number of people turned up for the second phase of Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday. Ganderbal district recorded 62 per cent polling.

The overall polling percentage in Rajouri and Ganderbal districts was put at 59.09 per cent.

Briefing journalists, Divisional Commissioner Masaud Samoon said elections in the two districts went off smoothly. He said 60.02 per cent exercised their franchise in Kangan constituency while 44 per cent voted in Ganderbal constituency.

It was much higher than the turnout in the 2002 elections which recorded 52 per cent and 35 per cent in Kangan and Ganderbal respectively. Rajouri district, he said, recorded a poll percentage of 70.50 per cent.

The fate of many candidates including that of National Conference president Omar Abdullah was sealed in Sunday’s election held under the shadow of a boycott and strike call given by the separatist-sponsored Coordination Committee, and killing of two youths in Baramulla on Saturday.

The atmosphere in Ganderbal and Kangan constituencies was far more relaxed than it was in the 2002 elections. Several places witnessed anti-election and pro-freedom protests. Police dispersed the protesters.

The polling was low key in the morning but picked up later. Duderhama and Beehama areas in the main Ganderbal town, however, did not witness much rush. Groups pelted stones at the vehicles of contesting candidates.

At around 2 p.m. only 27 out of 658 votes had been polled at Beehama polling station and 53 out of 663 had been cast at Beehama A. “The response is slow” said the polling officer. Duderhama also saw less polling and 220 votes out of 1147 had been polled by 1 p.m. At certain places the polling stations wore a deserted look with only security forces present.

However, the scene was different in other parts of Ganderbal and Barsoo. There were long queues outside polling stations. “We came out to choose our MLA who can solve our day-to-day problems” Zahoor Ahmad, voting for the first time told The Hindu.

Lar area too witnessed brisk polling. At polling station Lar “A” 454 out of 1,104 votes had been polled at 2 p.m. and the queues were long. The People’s Democratic Party ’s Qazi Afzal and the Congress’ Sheikh Ashfaq hail from the area.

The neighbouring Kangan constituency also witnessed brisk polling. Here National Conference’s Mian Altaf is pitted against PDP’s Bashir Ahmad Mir.

At Mirgund polling station 265 out of 1,144 had been polled at 11.30 a.m. and in Vailoo 119 out of 711 had been cast at noon.

Scores of youths tried to take out pro-freedom processions at Kirhama, Badergund, Beehama, Duderhama, Barusa and Yangoora. Many raising anti-election slogans marched through the streets and tried to attack the polling booths but police foiled their attempts.

Source : The Hindu

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