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Anantnag records 13.63 % turnout in first leg of 3-phase polls

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Zero votes in 40 booths of Bijbehara

Srinagar, Apr 23: Around 13.63 percent voter turnout was recorded in Anantnag Lok Sabha seat which went to polls on Tuesday, officials said.

Chief Electoral Officer J&K, Shailendra Kumar told reporters during a press conference in Srinagar that for the smooth polling, the ECI had setup 714 polling stations in the district. The ECI had also established 21 model polling stations, and 12 all-women model polling stations.

Giving segment-wise details of the district, the CEO informed that the Pahalgam Assembly segment witnessed the highest poll percentage of 20.37 percent (17,649 votes polled), while Bijbehara recorded the lowest percentage of 2.04 percent (1,905 votes).

The Anantnag Assembly segment registered a poll percentage of 3.47 percent (3,004 votes cast), Dooru 17.28 percent (13,598 votes), Kokernag 19.5 percent (18,312 votes), and Shangus 15.1 percent (13,354 votes), he said.

Kumar said a total of 71,777 votes, including 4,101 migrant votes, were polled in the third phase of the polls.

"The exact figure will be clear tomorrow after evaluating all the M-forms (for migrant voters)," the CEO said.

He said the Tuesday's voting percentage in Anantnag district was less compared to 2014 Lok Sabha polls which had recorded 39.37 percent.

He said an electorate of 5.27 lakh including 2.69 lakh male and 2.57 lakh female were eligible to cast their votes.

The number of first-time voters for the district was 54,663, while 24,536 were in the age group of 18-21 years, Kumar said.

The CEO also informed that the total percentage of voting till date in various parliamentary constituencies in the state including Baramulla, Jammu, Srinagar, Udhampur and Anantnag was recorded at 48.87 percent.

The CEO complimented voters, political parties, contesting candidates, media, polling staff and security forces for smooth and peaceful conduct of polling in the state.

Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan, IGP Kashmir, SP Pani, besides other officers were present on the occasion.

Meanwhile, the home turf of former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, the Bijbehara Assembly segment under the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, reported highest concentration of polling stations where zero votes were cast.

Among the 65 booths in Anantnag where zero votes were cast, 40 were located in Bijbehara, one of the six Assembly constituencies where voting took place in the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections Tuesday.

People cast their votes in 714 polling stations in Anantnag.

Bijbehara, the home constituency of PDP president Mufti, had 120 polling booths set up for a population of 93,289 people.

A total of 1,893 electorate or 2 percent exercised their franchise when the polling ended at 4 pm.

That voters in her ancestral town Bijbehara and the neighbouring Anantnag – believed to be traditional strongholds of her PDP -- showed very little interest to come out and join the poll process, is really a bad news for Mehbooba Mufti. Making matters worse for her is that the turnout was better in Dooru, Kokernag and Shangus segments where her Congress rival, Ghulam Ahmad Mir has strong voter support.

Pertinently, Mufti had won this Lok Sabha seat in 2014 and resigned in 2016 to become the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir following the death of her father, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed.

She later won the 2016 bypoll for the Anantnag Assembly seat to get elected to the 87-member state Legislative Assembly. Anantnag Assembly seat fell vacant due to Sayeed’s death in 2016.

The voting time for the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat was reduced in view of security considerations.

The Baramulla Lok Sabha seat, where voting took place in the first phase, saw 17 polling stations with zero while the Srinagar Parliamentary seat, which went to polls in the second phase, recorded zero votes in 90 booths.

Polling in Anantnag, which has 16 Assembly seats, has been divided into three phases. The first phase was completed on Tuesday while remaining two will be held on April 29 and May 06.

The decision for staggered polling was taken keeping in view the security situation in South Kashmir which has seen many encounters between security forces and militants.

On February 14, 40 CRPF personnel were killed in a terror attack in South Kashmir's Pulwama district. (With PTI inputs)

PDP sensing defeat: tweets Omar

Srinagar, Apr 23: Reacting to the alleged thrashing of a National Conference worker in Bijbehara, the former chief minister and NC vice-president Omar Abdullah on Tuesday said that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had sensed defeat in Anantnag Lok Sabha seat.

“They see the writing of their defeat on the wall & take it out on a young @JKNC_ volunteer. They can beat people up but that won’t alter their fate,” Omar said in a tweet.

Earlier, a video from Bijbehara segment of Anantnag district went viral on social media where an NC worker was allegedly beaten by the PDP workers.

Omar Abdullah had also shared the video of the incident.

Bijbehara, the home town of former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, saw low to moderate voting, keeping the fate of PDP Mehbooba Mufti hanging precariously in balance.

Police driver killed as vehicle overturns after coming under stone-pelting

Srinagar, Apr 23: The driver of a vehicle carrying ITBP troops back from their poll duty in Kokarnag area of south Kashmir was killed as it overturned after a mob hurled stones at it, officials said here.

They said three to four Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel have also suffered injuries in the incident.

The deceased driver's name is Hilal Ahmed Bhat, a selection grade constable, the officials said.

They said reinforcements were rushed to the place of incident and they saved the troops from hundreds of stone-pelters.(PTI)

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