A near complete boycott in Shopian and low turnouts in Kulgam and Pulwama, the two other districts of south Kashmir, pulled down polling in the Valley to 31.95 per cent in the fourth phase of the District Development Council (DDC) elections on Monday.
North and central Kashmir districts recorded a decent turnout and, with the Jammu region seeing 69.31 per cent voting, the overall turnout in the Union Territory was 50.08 per cent.
In Shopian, where Kapran constituency went to polls Monday, only the occasional voter turned up at booths.
As polling ended, the turnout was 1.96 per cent, much lower than 42.58 per cent, 17.28 per cent, and 22.68 per cent in the first three phases, respectively.
Pulwama district, where three constituencies — Pulwama I, Awantipora I and Awantipora II — went to polls, the turnout was 6.70 per cent — the district polled 8.67 per cent and 10.87 per cent votes in the second and third phases, respectively. In Kulgam, where two constituencies went to polls, the turnout was 8.73 per cent. The district recorded 34.35 per cent, 29.90 per cent, and 64.45 per cent in the three earlier phases, respectively.
The only district in south Kashmir that polled in double digits Monday was Anantnag, where Verinag and Shahbad went to polls.
At the Government Girls’ Middle School at Nowgam, Shahbad, a steady stream of voters started to arrive from the time polls opened. “I have never had any benefit in the last 30 years of politics and conflict. I have sought help to fix my house, but I have never got any attention. This time I am voting because it seems people who hobnob with political parties can at least get some work done,” beekeper Nazir Ahmad (46) said. At Verinag, 56-year-old Sara Bano stood in a queue for about 15 minutes to cast her vote. Sara, who is from the local Kumhar community, said she had never voted earlier, but this time candidates were familiar, and she could not refuse her neighbour’s request to vote.
Anantnag recorded a turnout of 27.04 per cent. The district had seen 43.32 per cent, 16.09 per cent, and 21.64 per cent voting in the first three phases, respectively.
Besides DDC elections, polling was held for panchayat bypolls in vacant sarpanch and panch seats within DDC constituencies. Election Commissioner K K Sharma said bypolls will be held wherever vacancies exist in rural local bodies.