J-K: 65% Voting In Second Phase

22 November 2008
The Indian Express

Jammu: Defying separatists' boycott call, nearly 65 per cent of the five lakh electorate exercised their franchise in six constituencies in the second phase of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections which was by and large peaceful barring sporadic clashes between rival groups. Despite biting cold, Darhal in Jammu recorded the highest turnout with 73 per cent. Ganderbal in Valley, where National Conference chief Omar Abdullah is in the fray, recorded the lowest with 44 per cent of the voters turning up at the polling stations. In 2002 Assembly elections, Darhal had registered 46 per cent turnout while Ganderbal 35.21 per cent. The turnout in all the six seats- four in Jammu region and two in the Valley- was better that the last time when it was below 50 per cent, Deputy Election Commissioner R Bhattacharya told reporters in New Delhi. Kangan, one of two seats in the Valley, recorded 61 per cent voting compared to 52.03 per cent in 2002. Police fired in the air near two polling stations as supporters of rival political groups clashed in Darhal Assembly constituency in Rajouri district, leaving five persons injured. The election-boycott call by separatists including Hurriyat Confernce failed to deter the voters, especially women and the aged, who queued up in large number at the polling stations to exercise their democratic right. Among the first persons to cast their ballots were 110-year-old Noor Begum and 101-year-old Sheikh Mohammad Sikander, who came out despite winter chill and illness to vote at the polling station in Shahdra Sharief in Rajouri. Nearly 69 per cent turnout was registered in the first phase of polling for 10 constituencies in the state on Nov 17. The third phase of polling is on Nov 30.