24 percent turn out to vote in desolate Srinagar

8 May 2009

Srinagar: With boycott, an anti-poll strike and undeclared curfew reigning in Kashmir, polling concluded in the prestigious Srinagar parliamentary constituency which voted in the fourth phase of elections on Thursday amid sporadic incidents of violence. Though most of Srinagar remained clamped down and on boycott, modest to moderate polling was witnessed in the outskirts and areas like Kangan, Gandarbal, Budgam, Khansahib, Chadoora, and Chrar-e-Sharief. A petrol bomb was hurled at a polling station in La'l Bazar, but caused no damage, while anti-poll demonstrations and stone-pelting broke out in Rambagh, Barzulla, Habba Kadal, Mahjoor Nagar and Beeru, leaving at least forty persons injured. Voting opened at 7 in the morning, but the 50-hour anti-poll strike by the separatists, which entered its concluding day Thursday, kept polling stations idle in most of Srinagar city. Police restrictions in the old city with thousands of police and paramilitary personnel patrolling the streets added to the sense of desolation on polling day, reinforcing the impact of the poll boycott call. Reports from Srinagar interiors spoke of the forces maintaining strict restrictive guard virtually at every door step. Though the city remained clamped down by an anti-poll strike, voter enthusiasm was discernable in the outskirts where long lines of people were seen before polling stations. Meanwhile Chief Electoral Officer, Jammu and Kashmir, B. R. Sharma told IRNA that about 24 per cent polling was recorded in Srinagar Parliamentary constituency Thursday. He said polling was peaceful across the 15 Assembly segments of the second-largest Parliamentary constituency in Kashmir division, adding today's voting percentage has surpassed that of 2004 parliamentary polls which was only 18.57 per cent. Giving details of the poll percentage recorded in the 15 Assembly segments of Srinagar PC, Sharma said Kangan recorded 44 per cent, Ganderbal 34, Hazratbal 14.05, Zadibal 12.84, Idgah 7.50, Khanyar 7.34, Habbakadal 1.75, Amirakadal 4.96, Sonawar 25.24, Batmaloo 12.87, Chadoora 33, Budgam 29, Beerwah 35, Khansahib 33 and Chrar-e-Sharief recorded 56 per cent voter turnout. He said for Sonawar bye-elections, a voter turnout of 26 per cent was recorded. Replying to a query about voter turnout Thursday, Sharma said that voters record higher percentage in Assembly elections as compared to Parliamentary elections as issues on which the elections are fought in the two sets of polls are entirely different. 2160*1420