57% Turnout As J&K Voters Snub Boycott Call

14 December 2008
The Times of India

Srinagar: Sporadic violence claimed one life and left several others injured during the fifth phase of assembly voting in Jammu & Kashmir,but there was no sign of fatigue with the prolonged election as Kashmiris again thronged polling stations to vote on Saturday and underline the groundswell of opinion against the separatists poll boycott call. etween 50% (Tral) and 76% (Bani) balloting was recorded in 11 constituencies - six in the Valley and rest in Jammu’s Kathua district - against 65%, 67%, 62%, 55% turnout in the first four rounds on November 17, 23, 30 and December 7. The 50% turnout in Tral, once a militant hub in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, was a far cry from the 11% balloting in 2002. Rafiqa Bano, a Tral voter, said there were few takers for Hurriyat’s boycott call. 'We’ve seen much bloodshed and mayhem in this area in last 18 years of militancy. These goons (militants) killed my husband as he happened to be a policeman,' she said and added that she had voted for a better life for her children. 'I’m living a dejected life with my three daughters and one son after my husband was killed in 2007,' she said. The voter mood was equally upbeat at Pulwama. Abdul Salam Ahanger (82), who braved chilly winds to lead early morning voters at Pinglana, directed his ire at the separatists and said he voted for a peaceful tomorrow. 'These leaders (separatists) have brought misery by calling for frequent strikes; we want a peaceful life and have voted for it,' he said. 'I exercised the right for the common good,' said Gulzar Ahmad, who was among the first voters at Konaba. Polling at PDP president Mehbooba Mufti’s constituency in Wachi was slow due to the sub-zero winds but picked up as the sun came out in the afternoon.