Kashmir once again saw a mixed response from voters, with Handwara wearing a festive look as men and women jostled to get inside polling stations and Sopore seeing security personnel manning deserted streets, while polling staff slept inside booths.
Kupwara, in Baramulla seat, saw men and women queuing up since early morning. At Trehgam, the village of JKLF founder Maqbool Bhat, voters defied the boycott call. “I know about the boycott call but that will not help us,” said a youth. “We all want change, but can we bring that change by staying in our homes?”
Handwara, Karnah, Lolab and Langate too saw enthusiastic voting. “We can’t stay inside when our rivals are out to vote,” said a National Conference supporter.
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In Sopore’s 33 polling stations, 24 saw not a single vote being cast. Of the 1,01,958 voters, only 937 voted. Even polling agents and some political leaders did not vote.
Though voters in Baramulla, Pattan and Bandipore towns stayed away, villages there reported a good turnout.
In Baramulla, groups of youngsters clashed with police throughout the day. In Bandipore, a number of youth angered by the “coercion of the Army” took to the streets and locked three polling stations.
Meanwhile, brisk polling was recorded in Ladakh parliamentary constituency. By the end of the day, Baramulla and Ladakh had together recorded a turnout of nearly 50 per cent. This was largely because Baramulla constituency, too, includes a large number of border areas where people are known to turn out in large numbers.