The third phase of polling for the urban local body polls currently underway in Jammu and Kashmir had a turnout of 3.5 per cent in the Valley — a marginal increase from 3.3 per cent in the second phase. An 81 per cent turnout was recorded in Jammu, where four municipal committees in Samba district went to polls.
In Kashmir, 120 candidates in 40 of the total 151 wards were in the third phase. Of the remaining wards, no candidates filed nominations in 62 wards and 49 were won uncontested. Twenty wards in Srinagar, 13 in Baramulla and seven in Anantnag district went to the polls on Saturday and recorded turnouts of 1.8 per cent, 75.3 per cent and 2.8 per cent, respectively.
In Srinagar’s Nowhatta area, just outside Jamia Masjid, a library and reading room were the polling booths for election to Srinagar Municipal Corporation. Walking into the room, voters passed by a message in red paint on a white wall — “Whoever will vote will have his house burnt. No to election.”
At the end of the day, 186 of the 751 registered voters cast their votes. The turnout of 1.8 per cent in Srinagar was lower than 2.3 per cent in the second phase and 6.2 per cent in the first.
Outside the polling station, Mohammad Rafiq said, “We are voting so that there is someone to listen to us. There is no government here, no sense of governance. I cannot approach the Governor and he will not come here to listen to me.” Other voters said they voted for employment, better living conditions and for “someone to help”.
While 72 of city’s 221 booths did not see any voter, the 12 wards of downtown Srinagar together accounted for 72.1 per cent of the total vote cast in Srinagar.
At Baramulla’s Uri, with just over 3,500 voters in 13 wards, 75.3 per cent turnout was recorded. Unlike other parts of the Valley, the border town had seen campaigning. “In a remote town like this, we depend on local leadership to get public work done. And this is the best way to ensure that. How will we hold them accountable if we do not vote,” Samiullah Ahad told The Sunday Express. Anantnag in south Kashmir, where seven wards went to poll on Saturday, recorded 2.8 per cent polling, up from 1.1 per cent in the second phase — With inputs from ENS Jammu