Amid shutdown, Internet gag and extraordinary security arrangements, overall 43.3 % polling was recorded in Srinagar and Udhampur Lok Sabha constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir till 1 pm on Thursday.
The polling began at 7 am in Srinagar Lok Sabha seat of central Kashmir and Udhampur seat of Jammu region and would end at 6 pm.
Most of the voters in Srinagar city preferred to stay indoors and only 7.0% polling was recorded till 5 pm. Similarly, in Ganderbal and Budgam districts of the Srinagar LS seat, 21% and 14.4% polling respectively was recorded till 1 pm
However, brisk voting was witnessed in Udhampur LS seat with enthusiastic voters lining up outside polling booths. While Udhampur district recorded 72.2% polling till 5 pm, Ramban and Kishtwar districts, which are part of the constituency, witnessed 56.4 % and 60% polling respectively.
Most of the polling stations in Srinagar city that has eight assembly segments wore a deserted look as hardly any voter came out.
Authorities had made extraordinary security arrangements to secure polling stations and ensure safe passage to voters. Securing polling stations, preventing militants from disrupting the poll process and ensuring that no law and order situation builds up during the day are the main challenges before the security agencies.
While separatist groups have asked people to boycott the polls in line with their three-decade-old anti-election policy, Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir based United Jihad Council (UJC) has issued a strong warning to those participating in the polls, asking them to stay away from the poll exercise.
In 2017 by-election to Srinagar LS seat, only seven per cent voters turned out to exercise their franchise and during large scale violence, nine people died.
The polling parties along with the polling material including EVMs/VVPATs were inducted into their respective polling stations including 235 in Ganderbal, 857 in Srinagar and 624 in Budgam segments of the Srinagar segment.
The former chief minister and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, who is among 12 candidates in the fray and is seen as the frontrunner to enter the Lok Sabha for the fourth time from Srinagar seat, cast his vote at a polling booth at Sonwar in Srinagar.
The polls are being held at a time when the State is under President’s rule after the fall of Mehbooba Mufti-led government following withdrawal of support to it by the BJP in June 2018.