96 per cent turnout in J&K Upper House polling

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
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Huge turnout:Sarpanchs and Panchs queue up at Budgam on Monday to cast their vote for the four seats of Legislative Council for Panchayat representatives.- Photo: Nissar Ahmad
Huge turnout:Sarpanchs and Panchs queue up at Budgam on Monday to cast their vote for the four seats of Legislative Council for Panchayat representatives.- Photo: Nissar Ahmad

An incredibly high turnout of 96 per cent was reported in Monday’s polling by over 33,000 Panchs and Sarpanchs to fill up four vacancies reserved for elected Panchayat representatives in Upper House of Jammu and Kashmir Legislature.

Divisional Commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu, who are also Returning Officers (ROs) for the four seats — two each in Kashmir and Jammu — maintained that the polling happened in a free and fair atmosphere even as no untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the State. They said that none of the 37 contesting candidates or their political parties had lodged any complaint with regard to fairness of the election.

However, Chief Electoral Officer, Umang Narula, later on Monday evening said that five to eight complaints of violation of the model code had been received and these were being examined.

Polling began at all the 145 stations set up at respective community development block headquarters in 22 districts of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, at 0900 hours and concluded at 1700 hours. Despite cold weather conditions, voter turnout was close to 90 per cent in Kashmir and Ladakh.

With 37 candidates in the fray, 33,540 Sarpanchs and Panchs had the right to elect four of their representatives for the 36-member Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council (JKLC) where both the seats reserved for urban local bodies of Kashmir and Jammu are still vacant. Last time, it was in October-November 1981 that J&K Panchayat members had elected Hakeem Habibullah, Pir Abdul Gani Makhdoomi (National Conference), Chuni Lal Sharma and Jitender Dev (Congress) as their representatives in JKLC.

Sarpanchs and Panchs turned up to vote, defying militant threats, senior separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s boycott call and cold weather conditions in Kashmir valley. Asking Panchs and Sarpanchs to stay away from the polling, Mr. Geelani had declared the defaulters as ‘traitors’ of the Kashmir’s separatist movement.

The relatively lower response in Kargil was indisputably attributed to acute cold conditions and the sub-zero temperature in Ladakh region, a part of Kashmir division.

Divisional Commissioner and RO for the two seats in Jammu, Pradeep Gupta, told The Hindu late on Monday night that 95 per cent turnout was witnessed in both seats of Jammu. Earlier today, Mr. Narula had put it at 90per cent at a news conference.

In Srinagar, Divisional Commissioner and RO for the two seats in Kashmir, Dr. Asgar Hassan Samoon, told The Hindu that the polling went on smoothly from the beginning to the end. He said that the overall turnout in the Kashmir Division was 97.39 per cent as 96.66 per cent vote had been polled for the K-1 seat and 98.12 per cent for the K-2.

According to Dr. Samoon, turnout was 100 per cent in Srinagar (which has no Panchayat in municipal areas), 91.56 per cent in Budgam, 86.75 per cent in Pulwama, 95.87 per cent in Anantnag, 88.28 per cent in Baramulla, 90.25 per cent in Kupwara, 92.84 per cent in Kulgam, 92.68 per cent in Shopian, 97.80 per cent in Ganderbal, 93.28 per cent in Leh and 65.37 per cent in Kargil district.

In an equal seat-sharing, NC and Congress have fielded four candidates. Opposition PDP and National Panthers Party have also fielded their candidates for all the four seats. BJP and BSP nominees are contesting for three seats each.

Declaration of results is expected at the end of counting at SKICC, Srinagar, and Government Polytechnic, Jammu, on December 6.

  • The election was held for the first time since October-November 1981

  • Turnout was relatively lower in Kargil district due to acute cold conditions

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