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LS Polls: With 45.7% voter turnout, 2nd phase ends peacefully

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14.8% voter turnout in Srinagar, 70% in Udhampur

Srinagar, Apr 18: Seventy percent voting was recorded in Udhampur Lok Sabha seat on Thursday, while the trend of low turnout continued in Srinagar with 14.8 percent voters exercising their franchise in the constituency where polling was held in tight security amid militant threats and boycott call by separatists.

The polling for the second phase of Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir remained peaceful and incident-free, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shailendra Kumar told reporters in Jammu.

In the 2014 general election, Srinagar had witnessed a turnout of 25.86 percent which fell to 7.2 percent in the 2017 Lok Sabha bypoll. Udhampur had witnessed 70.9 percent polling in 2014.

Kumar said Srinagar district recorded the lowest turn-out of 7.69 percent while Reasi district in Udhampur constituency recorded the highest of 73 percent among the nine districts where polling was conducted Thursday in the state.

Ganderbal district recorded 16.7 percent while in Budgam district, the turnout was 21.5 percent, the CEO said.

Udhampur district recorded 69.8 percent, followed by Kathua (69.7 percent), Doda (61.5 percent), Kishtwar (61 percent) and Ramban (57.6 percent).

Kumar said there were no reports of any violence during the day. “The polling remained peaceful.”

However, there was protest by a group of displaced Kashmiri migrants in Jammu after some of the members found their names missing in the voters list at a special polling station.

Over 29.6 lakh people in the two seats were eligible to vote to decide the fate of 24 candidates, including former chief minister and National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah and Union Minister Jitendra Singh who were contesting for Srinagar and Udhampur Parliamentary constituencies respectively.

For migrant voters of Srinagar constituency, 26 polling stations were set up with 21 in Jammu, one in Udhampur and four in New Delhi. Out of 4,700 eligible to vote, 2,100 voters exercised their franchise.

Kashmiri migrants demanded a probe into missing of names in the voters list at a special polling station here. A group of people also staged protest for not setting up polling station at Talwara (Reasi) for over 600 migrant voters.

“No polling station was setup at Talwara migrant camp for voting. We have 673 votes here. DC Reasi first promised us polling station but later refused. We were told that buses will be given to us for ensuring voting at our places, but no vehicles were sent,” a migrant leader told reporters.

The protesters raised slogans against district authorities of Reasi and the Election Commission.

There was a problem with EVM at a polling station in Ramban district but it was later rectified.

Police and paramilitary personnel were deployed in strength in and around polling stations in all three districts — Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal — of Srinagar constituency, the officials said.

Separatists had called for a shutdown in the three districts against the Lok Sabha polls. Meanwhile, authorities snapped mobile Internet services in these districts as a precautionary measure.

“The mobile internet service has been suspended as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order,” an official said. The BSNL’s broadband service was working, but its speed has been decreased.

Voters in border district of Kathua and Udhampur turned up in large numbers at polling booths this morning, officials said.

Udhampur parliamentary seat had 2,710 polling stations.

In Srinagar, Abdullah is pitched against political greenhorns Aga Moshin of the PDP, Irfan Ansari of the People’s Conference and Khalid Jehangir of the BJP.

In Udhampur, prominent contestants include four Rajputs: Union minister Jitendra Singh seeking reelection on a BJP ticket, Dogra dynasty scion Vikramaditya Singh fighting as a Congress candidate, Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan founder Choudhary Lal Singh and National Panthers party chairman Harsh Dev Singh.

“We made an attempt to have all women polling stations during this election. There were 25 such polling stations in total in both the constituencies. Other than that, we had 149 model polling stations as well,” Kumar said.

The CEO said there were 1.5 lakh first time voters which included 1.2 lakh voters who were between the age of 18 years and 21 years.

“95 percent voters had photo-identity cards while 97 per cent voters had photographs on electoral rolls,” he added.

Asked if the election authorities were mulling to prepone the ending time for polling in Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency in view of violence that led to death of one youth in Langate during the first phase, Kumar said they had received a request from police to this effect.

“We are examining it,” the CEO said.

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