Kashmir recorded the lowest turnout in the second phase of the urban local body polls on Wednesday. While the capital Srinagar and South Kashmir’s Anantnag town witnessed a total boycott of the electoral exercise, the provinces of Jammu observed brisk polling throughout the day. According to J&K’s chief electoral officer Shaleen Kabra, the overall voter turnout in the second phase was 31.3 percent. 78.6% polling was witnessed in 214 wards of Jammu while Kashmir division witnessed average 3.4% polling in its 49 wards, during the second phase of ULB elections.
In Kashmir, the Shia Muslims in Sumbal town of Bandipora participated in the polls and the town recorded the highest (35.6 %) voting among Kashmir areas. In the second phase, the voting percentage in Kashmir fell by five percent in comparison to the first phase figures. In the first phase, it was recorded 8.2 percent, while in the second phase, it was at 3.4 percent at the culmination of the voting time.
The Srinagar Municipal Corporation areas of Batamaloo and Habba Kadal assembly segments recorded barely 2.3 percent voter turnout, according to official figures released by the CEO this evening. Compared to earlier polls that occurred in 2014, these two areas have recorded more than 20 percent turnout. In Anantnag town, the polling percentage stood at 1.1 percent, lower than Srinagar, at the end of the voting time. The election was held for 16 wards in the town as candidates in nine others were declared elected unopposed. Only 368 votes were casted out of 32,000 votes.
According to officials, in Northern Kupwara district, the polling percentage stood at 5.1 percent across 13 wards. 7 percent voter turnout in Watergam municipal committee where all 19 voters were male.
However, in the northern Sumbal town, nearly 25 kilometres from Srinagar, long queues of voters were seen at some polling booths since 6 am. Till 7am, 0.73 percent of the turnout was recorded here, while the overall polling in the town stood at 35.6 percent. According to CEO Kabra, 78.6 percent polling was recorded in 214 wards of Jammu province spread over 18 urban local bodies. He said that the highest polling percentage in Jammu was recorded in Reasi which saw a turnout of 84.4%.In Jammu province, 72.8 percent turnout was recorded in Kishtwar, 72.8 percent in Doda, 79.5 percent in Ramban, 79.2 percent in Udhampur and 79.4 in Kathua.
The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik had earlier asked people to stay away from elections as “these are no substitute for right to self-determination and the resolution of Kashmir issue.” In addition to the JRL, two major mainstream political parties, the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party have boycotted the civic polls, citing “assault” on Article 35-A which has been challenged in the Supreme Court.