Scanty voter turnout in Kashmir Valley

Srinagar: Amidst tight security arrangements, re-poll at 38 polling stations in five assembly segments of Budgam district in central Kashmir was held here on Thursday, 13 April. The five segments in Budgam district were part of Srinagar Parliamentary constituency that went for by-polls early this week.

Re-polls were held at Khansahib, Budgam, Chadoora, Chrar-e-Sharif and Beerwah assembly segments in Budgam district after violence marred the bypolls held in the constituency on April 9. Later, repolls were announced in these areas. However, no vote was polled at 27 out of 38 polling stations during re-polls in various segments of the Budgam district. The Srinagar parliamentary constituency went to by-polls on April 9 amidst violent clashes that marred the polling in many areas of the constituency. Eight people (seven in Budgam district and one in Ganderbal district) were killed by security forces during the bypollheld in the constituencyand the polling was marred by large-scale protests and clashes. For the first time in the history, the Srinagar Parliamentary constituency witnessed just seven (7) percent voting.

“Out of 35169 voters, a total of 709 voters exercised their right of franchise which amounts to a poll percentage of 2.02,” said the Chief Electoral Officer, Jammu & Kashmir, Shantmanu here.

While no vote was polled in Khansahib out of a total of 871 votes, three votes were polled in Budgam assembly segment (with zero at six polling stations) out of a total of 7122 votes, 261 votes were polled in Chadoora segment (with no votes polled at 13 polling stations in the segment) out of a total of 14837 votes.  Just 58 votes were polled out of a total of 8126 votes in Chrar-e-Sharif segment (with no votes polled at six polling stations) and 357 votes were polled in Beerwah out of a total of 4233 votes (with no votes polled at one polling station).

Restrictions under Section 144 remained in force in the central district of Kashmir on the re-poll day except for those areas where re-poll was held. More than 50 companies of additional forces were deployed in the district to ensure smooth conduct of the re-poll.

Joint separatist leadership including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik had called for a shutdown in the poll-bound areas of the Valley (April 13).

Nine candidates contested for the constituency. OppositionNational Conference President Farooq Abdullah locked horns with the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Nazir Ahmad Khan. Abdullah was the joint candidate of National Conference and Congress as per the seat-sharing agreement between the two parties. According to the agreement, Abdullah would contest from the Srinagar parliamentary seat while the Congress state chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir would contest from the Anantnag Parliamentary seat. Seven other candidates had on April 12 called for a boycott of the re-polls stating that “they don’t want their brothers to die.”

Meanwhile, broadband and mobile internet services were restored immediately after the re-polls was over. The services were suspended at the midnight of April 8, just prior to Lok Sabha by-polls in the Srinagar Parliamenary Constituency on April 9. Later, the broadband service was restored but it was again suspended in the wee hours here on Thursday.

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