76 per cent voting in last phase of J&K elections

Battle for states: Overall polling sees 5 per cent increase compared to last elections

76 per cent voting in last phase of J&K elections

Nearly 76 per cent polling was recorded in the fifth and final phase of Assembly elections for 20 constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday as people cast their vote braving the winter chill and threat of firing from across the border.

About 18.28 lakh electorates decided the fate of 213 candidates, which included five sitting ministers, several former ministers, sitting legislators, former members of parliament (MPs) and bigwigs of various political parties.

Addressing a press conference in Jammu, State’s Chief Electoral Officer Umang Narula said about 76 per cent voters exercised their franchise in 20 Assembly segments spread over three districts of the Jammu region. “Polling percentage may increase after consolidation of figures,” he said and added that the highest turnout was recorded in Bani constituency where 83.20 per cent voters exercised their franchise while the lowest, 60 per cent, was recorded in Gandhinagar.

The CEO said the polling was held in a peaceful atmosphere. The overall percentage of all the five phases was 66 per cent, he added.

Calling it a “historic and unprecedented” development, he said the figure was four per cent higher than the turnout in the last Assembly polls of 2008. The five-phased election began on November 25. The counting of votes will take place on December 23.

Reports said tight security arrangements were made in the poll-bound districts of Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri, with deployment of 400 additional paramilitary companies and putting on alert the forces all along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) to thwart any possibility of a terror attack.

“Security grid along the Indo-Pak border had been put on alert and a multi-tier security had been put in place,” sources told Deccan Herald. On 27 November, militants had attacked a border post in Arnia border belt of Jammu district in which 12 people, including five civilians and four militants, were killed.

Director General of Police (DGP) K Rajendra said Army and BSF had been put on high alert on the LoC and IB as 11 constituencies out of 20 that went to polling on Saturday were situated along the borders.

Sources said about 300 anti-social elements had been detained and about 2,000 licensed weapons had been surrendered by the people ahead of the last phase of the polls.
The fifth phase has high stakes for the BJP which had won 10 of the 20 seats in the 2008 Assembly elections, followed by Congress with five, National Conference two, PDP one and independents two.

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