Kashmir saw a 64 per cent voter turnout while nearly 75 per cent electorate exercised their right to franchise in Jammu region in the first phase of panchayat elections on Saturday in Jammu and Kashmir.
The first phase of the panchayat polls in the Valley was held in the traditionally high voter turnout belts along the Line of Control. The figure is a sharp contrast to the municipal elections held last month that recorded the lowest-ever voter turnout in the electoral history of the Valley.
In Kashmir, Kupwara recorded the highest turnout (70 per cent), followed by Baramulla (69 per cent). Bandipore recorded 56 per cent turnout while 30 per cent voting percentage was recorded in Budgam. The lowest turnout was in Srinagar at 22 per cent.
In Jammu region, voters defied terror threats and the poll boycott call by separatists in 288 panchayats which went to polls on Saturday in seven districts.
In Kishtwar district, where a senior BJP leader and his brother were killed earlier this month by unidentified gunmen, the polling was 77 per cent in five blocks, including Marwah, Warwan, Dachhan, Paddar and Bounjwan. In adjoining Doda where Hizbul Mujahideen had circulated posters asking candidates and voters to stay away from electoral process, an overwhelming 80.83 per cent electorate cast their votes in four blocks.
While Udhampur registered 83.62 per cent polling, Kathua saw 80.2 per cent, Rajouri 78 per cent, Ramban 75.31 per cent and Poonch recorded a 70 per cent turnout.
In Paddar’s Atholi panchayat, polling was stopped after an hour as the lid of a ballot box was open, said Kishtwar Deputy Commissioner Angrez Singh Rana, adding that the election will now be held on Sunday. Counting of votes in six other wards of Atholi panchayat was done on Saturday, he said.
The polling in Jammu region was free of any untoward incidents, officials said.
In north Kashmir’s Kupwara, elections were held at Keran, Ramhall, Tarathpora, Teetwal and Tangdhar. In Bandipore, polls were conducted at Gurez, Baktoor and Tulail.
In Baramulla district, Kunzer, Uri, Parenpilla, Noorkhah and Kandi belt of Rafiabad went to polls. Khansahib in Budgam and Khonmoh in Srinagar saw a relatively low voter turnout.