J-K Poll: Turnout 55%, Polling Peaceful

6 December 2008
The Indian Express

Srinagar: Defying separatists yet again, voters came out in good numbers in the fourth phase of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections with an estimated 55 per cent turnout being recorded for 18 seats in four districts amid stray violence. Braving the winter chill and cocking a snook at the separatists, the electorate in 12 seats in Kashmir valley and six in Jammu region followed the trend of enthusiastic turnout in the previous three phases when there was over 60 per cent voting. There was a tight security during the polling. Sporadic clashes between anti-poll protesters and security forces occured at a few places while there was a grenade explosion at Sopore but no one was killed. The voting was spread over Baramulla,Udhampur,Budgam and Reasi districts. Four photojournalists, covering anti-poll protests at Arampora, were allegedly roughed up by security personnel. AP photographer Mukhtar Khan received head injuries and was admitted to the sub-district hospital in Sopore, the sources said. Three other photojournalists - Tauseef Mustafa of AFP, Fayaz Kabuli of Reuters and Habib Naqash of Asian Age also received minor injuries, the sources added. Reports of malfunctioning of Electronic Voting Machines at four places in Reasi and Udhampur districts were reported. Minutes after the start of polling in Baramulla district, militants exploded a hand grenade on Sopore- Sangrama road but there was no report of loss of life or damage to property. Gool Arnas (70 per cent), once the operational hub of the militants in lower Pirpanchal ranges, recorded a very high turnout while Sopore, the home town of hardline faction of Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Shah Geelani, had the lowest turnout of 14 per cent, though it was six per cent more than in 2002 polls.