58 per cent voter turnout in 3rd phase of J-K polls

58 per cent voter turnout in 3rd phase of J-K polls
Unfazed by the recent militant attacks, a 58 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the third phase of the Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir today that involved 16 seats--all in the Valley--as they continued to ignore boycott calls.

The turnout in the five-phase elections was, however, less compared to the first two phases which recorded 72 per cent polling though it was nine per cent higher than that recorded in 2008 Assembly polls. A 49 per cent polling was recorded for the same segments in the previous polls.

With today's polling covering three districts, voting has been completed in 49 of the 87 Assembly constituencies. The fourth and fifth phase will be held on December 14 and 20. Counting of votes will be taken up on December 23.

Barring a petrol bomb attack by some unidentified persons at a polling station in Gulmarg, the polling was by and large peaceful in all the constituencies in Baramulla, Pulwama and Budgam districts of north, south and central Kashmir.

Voters including elderly persons lined up at 1,781 polling stations in sub-zero temperatures at many places in the morning to decide the fate of 144 candidates including Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and three of his cabinet colleagues.

Giving the breakup of voting at the end of the polling, Chief Electoral officer Umang Narula said Charar-e-Sharief in Budgam district recorded the highest 82.74 per cent against 74.58 in 2008.

Sopore constituency--the home town of hardline Hurriyat Conference Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani who spearheaded the boycott campaign--saw the lowest 30 per cent polling but it was higher compared to 19.95 per cent recorded in 2008.

Narula said 79 per cent polling was registered in Baramulla district's Uri segment which witnessed the deadly attack on an army camp Friday leaving 11 security force personnel and six militants dead.

In the last assembly polls, the constituency recorded 81.73 per cent voting.Beerwah constituency in Budgam district from where Omar is locked in a multi-cornered contest, recorded an increase of nearly 17 per cent in the polling compared to last assembly elections. The constituency recorded 74.14 per cent as against 57.17 per cent in 2008.
Sonawar in Srinagar district, the second constituency from where Omar is in the poll fray, goes to polls on December 14.

Khan Sahib constituency in Budgam also recorded 73 per cent polling followed by Gulmarg (72 per cent), Budgam (70.0), Chadoora (65), Rafiabad (63), Pattan (60.00), Sangrama (56.15), Rajpora (47.06), Pampore (46.48), Baramulla (45.00), Pulwama (38.31) and Tral (37.68), Narula said.

Barring Pampore which witnessed an increase of three per cent turnout, the other three constituencies of Tral, Rajpora and Pulwama in south Kashmir recorded a slight dip in the voter turnout this time. Tral was hit by militant violence recently.

Narula said 55 per cent of 8,441 registered migrants in Jammu and Delhi also exercised their franchise.He said the polling was by and large incident free while adequate arrangements were made to ensure free, fair and transparent election.

Though the militant attack on the Army camp in Uri shook the people of this town, situated close to Line of Control in Kashmir, it did not deter them from exercising their franchise as voters thronged the polling station this morning.

Hundreds of voters stood in long queues outside the polling station at Mohra, located barely a kilometre away from the Army camp.The stakes are high for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the current phase since it represents nine of the 16 assembly seats.

The ruling NC holds four. Congress and the Peoples Democratic Front won one seat each in the last polls while one went to an Independent.

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