Today: Jun 19, 2024

Touching 60% polling, north Kashmir, and in Budgam, democracy wins with a bang

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Bla-Kup-Bgm LS seat witnesses highest turnout after 47 years

120-year-old man of Sopore, 115 year-old-woman of Kupwara among elderly who voted…

 Baramulla: Baramulla-Kupwara-Budgam LS seat Thursday scripted history by recording 59 percent voting, which can go up with fresh data, highest ever in the electoral history of the Baramulla Lok Sabha seat since 1967 when the seat registered 51.35 per cent voting.

Addressing a press conference here, Chief Electoral Officer Pandurang Kondbarao Pole said that the Baramulla Parliamentary constituency recorded approximately 59 percent voter turnout, marking the highest polling percentage in the democratic history of the constituency since 1967 when the seat saw 51.35 votings.

This Lok Sabha seat as per records, recorded 37.41 per cent voting in 2019, 38.96 percent in 2014, 41.84 per cent in 2009, 35.65 per cent in 2004, 27.79 per cent in 1999, 41.49 in 1998, 46.65 in 1996, no elections held in 1991, 5. 48 in 1989, 61.09 in 1984, 56.02 in 1980, 56.97 in 1977, 50.62 in 1971, and 51.35 in 1967.

Pole said that the milestone was achieved without any reports of violence throughout the polling day.

“The people of Baramulla have created history today with the highest poll percentage ever recorded for the parliamentary seat and an election day free from violence,” Pole stated.  He said that the constituency had 2,103 polling stations, all monitored by CCTV surveillance to ensure smooth conduct.

Despite some complaints of slow polling, investigations revealed that the polling staff were working diligently and effectively, he said.

“There were no untoward incidents reported anywhere, and zero violence was witnessed,” Pole emphasized.

The Handwara assembly segment recorded the highest polling percentage at 67.5 percent, while the Gurez assembly segment saw the lowest turnout.

He said that the Sopore assembly segment of the parliamentary constituency witnessed a healthy turnout of 44.36 percent after recording single-digit polling percentages in the past couple of decades.

“The Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency witnessed a record voter turnout since parliamentary polls were first held here in 1967,” Pole told reporters at the end of polling.

The previous highest voter turnout in the Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency was witnessed in 1984 at 58.90 percent.

This year, it was 59 percent, Pole said. The constituency has 17,37,865 registered voters and there are 22 candidates in the fray.

The official said that the figures were likely to undergo an upward revision as there were voters still waiting for their turn at some polling stations after the stipulated 6 pm deadline.

Besides the highest voter turnout, Pole said the constituency created another record by having a zero-violence polling day.

“The people have proved that they have faith in democracy and they can achieve sustainable development only through voting in the polls,” he added.

Pole said there were attempts by terrorists a couple of days back to vitiate the atmosphere by carrying out attacks but those incidents did not have any impact on the voter turnout.

An official of the election department said polling went on smoothly across the Lok Sabha constituency which comprises 18 assembly segments and is spread over the four districts of Baramulla, Bandipora, Kupwara and Budgam.

Giving out assembly segment-wise polling data, Pole said the Handwara segment in Kupwara district recorded the highest turnout at 67.50 percent while Gurez recorded the lowest at 40.82 percent.

Among the other assembly segments, Langate recorded a turnout of 66 percent, Sonawari 64.61 percent, Karnah 61.53 percent, Trehgam 61.17 percent, Uri 60.27 percent, Bandipora 60.24 percent, Beerwah 56.63 percent, Budgam 51.76 percent, Gulmarg 58.50 percent, Kupwara 58.90 percent, Lolab 58 percent, Pattan 59.87 percent, Rafiabad 57.39 percent, Baramulla 49.34 percent and Wagoor-Kreeri 49.79 percent.

National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah, People’s Conference president Sajad Gani Lone and jailed head of Awami Ittehad Party (AIP) Sheikh Abdul Rashid alias Engineer Rashid are among the key candidates in the fray for the seat.

Earlier, in the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha election, the Srinagar seat, covering the districts of Srinagar, Ganderbal, Pulwama, Budgam and Shopian partly, recorded a voter turnout of 38.49 per cent, its highest since 1996.

This is the first general election in the Valley after the abrogation of Article 370 and the enactment of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, the poll authority pointed out.

Meanwhile, Haji Ghulam Mohammad Rather, who claims to be 120-year-old from Sopore and Saja Begum of Panzgam Kupwara, who claims to be of 115-year-old cast their votes during Lok Sabha elections for Baramulla parliamentary constituency today.

Haji Ghulam Mohammad Rather, arrived at Booth No. 116 in Pethseer, Sopore, on a wheelchair. Sporting a long beard and traditional white Kashmiri cap, Rather expressed hope that his vote would bring “positive changes to his village”.

“I have been voting since Sheikh Sahab’s time. I have been casting my vote since I got eligible to vote. I have never missed it despite the turmoil,” he said.

“This might be my last vote, but I cast it because it can bring some change in the lives of people in my village. When people like me cast a vote, young and dejected youth should learn that there is always hope for the best,” he added.

Similarly, Saja Begum, aged 115, cast her vote at the Panzgam polling station in Kupwara. Despite her advanced age and multiple health issues, Saja Begum made her way to the polling station, reflecting her unwavering commitment to participating in the process.

When asked what she hoped for, she replied, “I need nothing but monthly financial assistance to buy medicines in this old age because I am suffering from many ailments. There are many problems our representatives need to address. Despite filling our online forms, I am yet to receive my old-age pension.”