After a moderate turnout in north Kashmir’s Baramulla last week, the turnout in Srinagar parliamentary seat dived on Thursday. The voting percentage was 14.8, up from 7.14 in the 2017 bypolls but much lower than the 26 per cent recorded in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Polling was conducted amid unprecedented security. Barring some incidents in Budgam district, the polls were peaceful.
The Srinagar constituency, which comprises Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts, is witnessing a contest between NC stalwart Farooq Abdullah and two political greenhorns, PDP’s Aga Mohsin and Peoples Conference’s Irfan Ansari, both Shia leaders.
The surprising factor was the twin districts of Budgam and Ganderbal, which have traditionally witnessed higher turnout.
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Budgam itself was a story of contrasts. While voters turned up in large numbers in several parts of the district, it was near-total boycott in other parts. The district polled 21.6 per cent votes as against 39 per cent in 2014.
At nearby Nasrullahpora, hundreds of policemen, paramilitary personnel and soldiers stood guard but voters stayed away from polling stations.
Memories of 2017 bypolls were palpable in the district, and villages that had seen violence mostly refrained from voting. Villages like Beerwah, Chewdora and Rathsuna witnessed stone-throwing.
Ganderbal district — comprising the Assembly segments of Kangan and Ganderbal — also saw a sharp decline in turnout. It was 17.5 per cent, down by 28 per cent from 2014.
Jammu’s Udhampur constituency recorded a turnout of 70 per cent, even as Wednesday’s rain disrupted vehicular traffic along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway and nearly 2,000 people from hilly areas of Reasi district failed to reach polling stations for lack of public transport. The polling was slow in the morning and picked up later.