by Jehangir Ali, Authint Mail
Srinagar: Amid protests and clashes in parts of Indian administered Kashmir, the second phase of the state assembly elections Tuesday recorded over 71 percent voter turnout.
Polling was held in 18 constituencies with a voter population of over 1.5 million which sealed the fate of prominent political figures including separatist turned pro-India politician Sajad Gani Lone who was contesting from Handwara where 71 percent voter turnout was recorded.
As polling was going on smoothly in some parts, clashes erupted in many places of Kashmir region including Kulgam where anti-election protesters threw stones at the forces who were deployed there for peaceful conduct of the elections, resulting in injuries to few CRPF men.
Some villages in Kulgam including Bogam, Khudwani, Kaimoh and Redwani witnessed a complete boycott of elections with few votes polled at many polling centres.
The voters there alleged they were harassed by government forces and coerced into voting.
Out of 4,521 eligible voters, just one vote was cast at six polling stations of Bugam and Parnivah falling in Kulgam in the first three hours of polling.
The overall voter turnout in Kulgam was 55.4 percent.
Gulabgarh assembly segment in Jammu recorded the highest turnout of 80.73 percent in the second phase of assembly elections in the region.
Peoples Democratic Party president, Mehbooba Mufti said the massive polling has established that the people of Kashmir have seen through the game of dividing their votes.
“The fact that the overwhelming majority of the people came out to vote is an indication that their mission to bring about a change is taking shape on the ground,” she said while addressing meetings in Khansahib assembly constituency in Budgam region where polling will be held on December 9.
Homeshalibugh, a Jama’at-i-Islami stronghold, recorded the lowest voter turnout in second phase with a dismal 36.5 percent votes polled at end of the polling day.
In the twin Kunan and Poshpora villages of Kupwara where security forces allegedly mass-raped the womenfolk, voters protested outside the polling centres by waving black flags against the holding of elections.
In the frontier Kupwara region, where polling was held on five constituencies, there was a festivity in the air with long queues of men and woman, braving winter chill, lined up outside the polling booths since morning to cast their votes.
“I am voting for Peoples Conference. Our area has been neglected for many years by governments. Now we want someone from here to represent us,” Abdul Rashid, a voter in Handwara, told Authint Mail.
In Jammu region where polling was conducted on nine constituencies, there was an overall turnout of 76 percent with 80 percent voting recorded in Gool Arnas constituency.
Activists of PDP and Congress clashed at a polling station in Mendhar assembly constituency (72 percent) where at least one person was injured.
The second phase of elections was held amid increase in violence in the region with a ruling NC sarpanch shot dead and another hurt.
A grenade was hurled at a CRPF camp in summer capital Srinagar a day ahead of the elections.
The third phase of election will be held on December 9.