Civic polls: 3.4% voting in Kashmir, 79.8% in Jammu 

Women voters leave after casting their votes at a polling station during the 2nd phase of Municipal elections, in Sumbal area of Bandipora, on Wednesday. PTI

A dismal 3.4% people voted in the second phase of Kashmir civic polls on Wednesday, while an overwhelming majority of 79.8% of voters exercised their franchise in the Jammu region.

Poll officials said that the overall voting percentage in the state was 31.3%.

At nearly 80%, Ramban district in Jammu region witnessed highest polling while only 1.1% of voters turned up in militancy-hit Anantnag district of south Kashmir.

The massive turn out in Jammu region and poor turnout in the Valley was a repeat of the trend seen in the first phase of the four-phased poll process.

Reports said that a BJP candidate, Azad Singh, died of cardiac arrest in Ramban immediately after casting his vote.

The second phase of polls were held amid heightened security and a shutdown call by separatists in poll-bound areas.

The voting began at 6 am, an hour earlier than scheduled and ended at 4 pm.

Omar Abdullah, former chief Minister and National Conference (NC) leader,  raised questions over the rescheduling of the poll timings.

"Why are polling booths opening at 6 a.m? If I believe conspiracy theories, I would believe it's because journalists would not be around to verify the genuineness of voters at that very early hour," he tweeted.

Officials said that stringent security arrangements had been made at 544 polling stations across the state.

The conduct of polls in Srinagar areas as well as the Anantnag town of south Kashmir was a challenge given the volatile history of the poll-bound areas, they said.

An official said that out of 23 urban local bodies which went to polls on Wednesday, five were in Kashmir and 18 in Jammu.

1,029 candidates— 881 in Jammu division and 148 in Kashmir division— are in the fray for 263 municipal wards, including 49 in Kashmir and 214 in Jammu.

A total of 65 candidates— 61 of them from Kashmir valley— have already won the polls uncontested, while in 56 wards in the valley received no nominations, so no polling is taking place in those places, he said.

The official said that the total electorate in these wards is 3,46,980— 1,28,104 in Jammu division and 218 ,876 in Kashmir division.

Massive security arrangements have been put in place to ensure that the polls are conducted smoothly.

The elections, covering 79 municipal bodies with an electorate of about 17 lakh, are being held in four phases.

In the first phase of the elections on Monday, over 56% polling was recorded.

The NC, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the CPM have boycotted the polls to protest the legal challenge to Article 35A of the Constitution in the Supreme Court.

Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, a militant outfit, has issued a strong warning to those participating in the polls, asking them to get shrouds along with the election forms.

While the candidates in Jammu and Ladakh regions campaigned extensively, the campaigning remained a low-key affair in the Valley amid threats from militants, boycott calls by separatists, NC and PDP's decision to abstain from the polls.

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Civic polls: 3.4% voting in Kashmir, 79.8% in Jammu 

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