J&K sees 71 pc turnout

J&K sees 71 pc turnout

People turned out in large numbers to vote in the second phase of polling to 18 Assembly seats in five districts of Jammu and Kashmir and 20 seats in Jharkhand.

India's northernmost state saw 71 per cent of the electorate exercising their franchise peacefully. People defied boycott calls and general strike from both factions of the Hurriyat and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, militant threats and chilling cold to record the highest turnout since the outbreak of militancy in 1989.

Reports said serpentine queues of voters were seen at most of the polling stations in a majority of the Assembly segments in Jammu, as 15,42,737 electors—8,18,025 men, 7,24,703 women and nine from the third gender—sealed the fate of 175 candidates.

Reports said police and Central forces were deployed in large numbers to give a sense of security to voters. The Army was also deployed to sanitise areas and prevent militants from carrying out attacks to disrupt polling.

J&K Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Umang Narula Karnah said 199 micro-observers and 10,296 poll personnel were deployed for Tuesday's polling.

Meanwhile, Jharkhand CEO P K Jajoria said in Ranchi: “The second phase of election in 20 constituencies across seven districts recorded an overall 64.68 per cent polling.” The fates of 223 candidates were sealed there on Tuesday.

While the Jagannathpur seat recorded a high turnout of 76 per cent, the adjoining Majhgaon constituency in Singhbhum district recorded a low 56 per cent. Former chief minister Madhu Koda is contesting from Majhgaon, while his wife Geeta is in fray from Jagannathpur.

The turnout was 71 per cent in Arjun Munda’s seat of Kharsawan, where voting took place from 7 am to 3 pm as it was declared a Maoist-affected constituency.

The Election Commission had made elaborate security arrangements for the peaceful conduct of elections, with 260 companies of central paramilitary forces and the State Auxiliary Police deployed to guard polling booths.

Helicopters were pressed into service for aerial monitoring. Around 150 polling personnel were flown to and fro in Maoist-hit areas, where road connectivity is poor.

Voters turned out in large numbers in Garhwa, Simdega and Khunti, where Maoists had called for a poll boycott. The Left-wing extremists had burnt campaign vehicles of the BJP, JMM and Babulal Marandi’s Jharkhand Vikas Morcha in the last fortnight in these areas.

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