THE SIXTH phase of the District Development Council (DDC) elections — for 14 seats in Kashmir and 17 in Jammu — recorded 51.5 per cent polling on Sunday. The voting pattern was almost the same as the previous five phases, with moderate turnout in other parts of Kashmir making up for low turnout in south Kashmir districts, and high turnout in Jammu division pushing up the overall polling percentage.
Despite a near total boycott in the south Kashmir districts of Shopian and Pulwama, moderate polling in other parts of the valley pushed up the voter turnout to 32.5 per cent in Kashmir. As voters turned out in large numbers in Jammu, 68.5 per cent polling was recording in the region, said the UT’s Election Commissioner K K Sharma. He said 76.7 per cent polling took place in Poonch district’s Balakote area, which saw intense mortar shelling by Pakistani troops Saturday night.
In Shopian district, where two seats went to polls, people stayed away from the polling booths again on Sunday. By the end of the day, 4.6 per cent voters exercised their right in the district. In the neighbouring Pulwama district, the turnout was slightly better at 8.1 per cent.
The other two south Kashmir districts – Kulgam and Anantnag – recorded moderate turnout. In Anantnag, where Achabal and Breng constituencies went to polls, a little less than 25 per cent voters turned out to vote. Kulgam district – only one DDC seat went to polls there – recorded a voter turnout of 37.7 per cent.
In Baramulla district, where two seats, Baramulla and Rohama, went to polls, 34.5 per cent vote was recorded. “Generally, we stand for boycott here but this time I have come out to vote to keep the BJP away and to show that the people of the valley oppose the decisions the BJP government took last year,” said Abdul Rashid, a voter from Rohama village. “This time I have voted for the (People’s) Alliance. I have voted because I want to give them one last chance to represent the true aspirations of the people of Kashmir.”
The voter turnout in Bandipore and Kupwara districts of north Kashmir stood higher at 47.6 and a little over 51 per cent respectively. Budgam district of central Kashmir also saw moderate turnout – 30 per cent. The other central Kashmir district of Ganderbal recorded the highest voter turnout in the valley at 58.54 per cent.
In Jammu division, border Rajouri district recorded a little over 74 per cent polling, followed by Reasi (74.02%), Udhampur (72.04%), Ramban (71.3%), Samba (70.01%), Jammu (66.3%), Doda (62.9%) and Kathua 60.9%). — With inputs from ENS, Jammu
Ballot paper photo surfaces on social media; 3 suspended
Jammu: Two government school teachers and a non-teaching employee who were all part of polling staff were suspended from duty Sunday after a ballot paper for the ongoing District Development Council elections was found posted on social media nearly 12 hours ahead of polling in Balakot area.
According to the order, issued by Poonch District Panchayat Election Officer Rahul Yadav, those suspended include Gulzar Ahmed, a teacher at government higher secondary school at Gunhal in Surankote; Asif Iqbal, a teacher at the government middle school in Harni and Mohammad Yousuf, a junior assistant at High School Kalai.
According to sources, on Saturday, polling material was distributed among staff at Balakot constituency where polling was held Sunday. However, on Saturday evening a photograph of the ballot paper was found on social media.
Following this, Yadav sought a report in the matter from Balakote’s Returning Officer. Following the RO’s report, Yadav suspended all three polling staff and ordered the District Education Planning Officer to inquire into the matter. —ENS
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