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Over 50% voter turnout in third phase of Jammu & Kashmir DDC polls

Voters wait in a queue to cast their votes for the third phase of the District Development Council (DDC) elections, at Gajansu Village in Jammu, Friday, Dec. 4, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Over 50% voters turned up to cast their ballot in the third phase of the District Development Council (DDC) polls in J&K on Friday, despite suspected militants firing upon a J&K Apni Party candidate in south Kashmir’s Anantnag.

“J&K recorded 50.53% of voter turnout. The Jammu division recorded an average voter turnout of 68.88%, while the Kashmir division saw 31.61%,” State Election Commissioner (SEC) K.K. Sharma said.

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Volatile south Kashmir’s Kulgam district, which has seen frequent encounters in the past two years, recorded the highest polling at 64.45%.

“Our vote is to keep the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) at bay. Electoral politics has become essential to stop the process of disempowerment initiated by the BJP in J&K since August 5 last year,” Nazir Ahmad, a teacher from Kulgam, said. 

However, a spontaneous boycott was observed in most polling booths in the other three districts of south Kashmir, including Shopian with 22.68% polling, Anantnag at 21.64% and Pulwama at 10.87%.

“We have seen too many young bodies heading to graves to be casting votes,” Rehman Ganai, a resident of Pulwama, said.

Meanwhile, north Kashmir saw a healthy voter turnout, with Bandipora recording 56.73%, Kupwara 46.25% and Baramulla 30.94%. In central Kashmir, Budgam saw 50.18% polling and Ganderbal 24.69%, according to the officials.

“In the Jammu division, poll percentage of 72.18% was recorded in Poonch, 70.44% in Jammu, 70.35% in Kishtwar, 70.15% in Samba 64.79% in Ramban and 62.18% in Kathua,” Mr. Sharma said.

Thirty-three constituencies, including 16 in Kashmir and 17 in Jammu division, saw polls in the third phase of polls, in which a total of 305 candidates, 252 males and 53 females were in the fray.

Candidate injured

In the first militancy-related violence during the ongoing polls, militants attacked a DDC candidate from the J&K Apani party in south Kashmir's Anantnag district.

“Around 12.00 p.m., a terror crime took place at Sagam in Kokernag area of Anantnag, where terrorists had fired upon a DDC candidate, Anees-ul-Islam Ganie. He received injuries in a finger and on thigh. His condition is stated to be stable,” a police spokesperson said.

The police said Islam was allocated a cluster accommodation in Khanabal and was instructed to get escort personnel for the purpose of campaigning, “which he did not take”.

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“All the candidates and vulnerable people are informed to report to concerned Police Control Rooms or police stations as and when they are desirous of going for a poll campaign or such movements so that appropriate security arrangements are accordingly provided to them,” Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar said.

Apni Party president Altaf Bukhari condemned the attack. “This dastardly attack on our contesting candidate is a manifestation of frustration among forces inimical to peace and the rising popularity of the party among the people,” he said.

National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah and Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Lone also condemned the bid on the life of a candidate.

“Elections have always brought out the worst in those forces who have remained inimical to peace in Kashmir,” Mr. Abdullah said.

Peoples Conference chairman and spokesperson of Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, Sajad Gani Lone, said, “The attack on a contesting DDC candidate is detestable to say the least. Violence has been the biggest facilitator in our disempowerment,” Lone tweeted.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 5:15:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/jk-ddc-polls-apni-party-candidate-shot-at-in-anantnag/article33247759.ece

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