While people have come out in good numbers to cast their votes in Jammu region, barely three per cent of the electorate showed up to exercise their franchise in the Kashmir valley in the second phase of the local body elections in the state under tight security. The second phase polling today recorded 30 per cent voter turnout in the state, officials said.
Reasi recorded the highest voter turnout of 84 per cent and Kashmir valley had a mere 3 per cent electorate turning up at the polling booths. Three districts -- Chenab Valley, Doda, Ramban and Kishtwar -- recorded over 70 per cent polling, officials said.
Two major political parties of the state -- Peoples Democratic Party and National Conference -- have boycotted the elections.
The four-phase elections, covering 79 municipal bodies with an electorate of about 17 lakh, are being held in the state after 13 years. Though the voting had begun slowly, it gathered momentum by noon in the state except in the valley.
Ramban district in Jammu division recorded 62.9 per cent voter till noon. The turnout was 59.4 per cent in Kathua, 50.8 in Udhampur, 60.8 in Reasi, 57.8 in Doda and 55.9 in Kishtwar districts of Jammu division till noon, officials had said. Both the Congress and the BJP have strong presence in the three districts Chenab Valley.
However, the voters shied away from turning up in big numbers in Kashmir valley. Two candidates were declared elected unopposed in Kulgam and Badgam districts.
Till noon, Bandipora topped the voter turnout at 22.2 per cent in the valley while in Srinagar, Baramulla, Kupwara and Anantnag districts the voter turnout was 1.4, 3.7, 3.3 and 0.8 per cent, respectively.
Of the 1.78 lakh voters in 19 wards of Srinagar Municipal Corporation, only 1.3 per cent turned up to exercise their franchise at the heavily fortified polling station till noon. The poll percentage in north Kashmir's Sopore and south Kashmir's Anantnag municipal areas was 2.3 per cent and 0.7 per cent, respectively.
An overwhelming deployment of security forces ensured that the voting remained peaceful despite threats by terrorists to disrupt the election process. The municipal polls are being held in 11 districts of the state in the second phase -- six in Jammu division and five in the Valley.
The election body in Jammu and Kashmir changed the poll timings, advancing it by an hour. Voting is being held between 6 am and 4 pm. The opposition alleged that starting the voting before daylight is aimed at facilitating "bogus voting". This is the first time when polling started over half an hour before sunrise.
Polling is going on amidst stringent security arrangements at 544 polling stations across the state and would end at 4 pm. Over 1,000 candidates -- 881 in Jammu division and 148 in Kashmir division -- are in the fray for 263 municipal wards in both the divisions.
With inputs from agencies