J&K Municipal Polls Peaceful, Brisk Polling In Jammu

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Srinagar (IANS): Barring an incident of stone pelting in Srinagar, the municipal polls in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday took place peacefully after 13 long years, with Rajouri in Jammu region registering the highest turnout and Bandipora in the Kashmir Valley the lowest.

Amid tight security, polling was brisk in the Jammu region where an official said that Rajouri district recorded nearly 60 per cent of voter turnout and Poonch 52 per cent. Voting began at 7 a.m.

Long queues of enthusiastic voters were seen in almost all the municipal corporation and committee wards in Jammu district.

Voting took place peacefully in Gandhi Nagar, R.S. Pura, Bishnah, Arnia, Khour, Jurian, Akhnoor, Nowshera, Surankote and Kalakote areas and other wards.

But the story in the Kashmir Valley was starkly different, with most voters keeping away from the balloting centres amid a separatist called shutdown.

Kupwara in the Valley recorded the highest voter turnout at 29 per cent while at all other places, including the three municipal corporation wards in Srinagar city, saw less than 10 per cent of voting, the official added.

Voting was subdued throughout the valley — 21 per cent in Handwara, 2.96 in Bandipora, 4 per cent in Badgam and Baramullah and 6 per cent in Anantnag.

Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir and the urban hub of a lingering separatist campaign, registered 4 per cent polling till 1.30 p.m.

Some youths clashed with security forces in Bagh-e-Mehtab in Srinagar but officials said the situation was quickly brought under control.

No militancy related incident was reported in the state. Mobile Internet services were suspended in all south Kashmir districts.

The first phase of the civic polls took place amid a boycott by the two key parties in the state — the National Conference and People’s Democratic Party.

In the three Srinagar municipal corporation wards of Humhama, Bagh-e-Mehtab and Hamdania colony, 1,400 votes were polled till 1.30 p.m.

In Ladakh region, a biting cold kept voters away early in the day. But voting picked up in both Kargil and Leh.

A presiding officer was suspended at Aloosa in Bandipora district for allowing a woman to accompany a voter to the voting counter.

Director General of Police Dilbag Singh said no restrictions had been imposed anywhere in the Valley.

Elections are being held in 422 of the state’s 1,145 municipal wards. As many as 1,204 candidates are in the fray for the four-phased municipal polls that will end on October 16. Counting of votes will take place on October 20.

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