Heavy turnout in villages near LoC as 74 pc cast votes29 May 2011
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: Three districts in undivided Doda and border district of Poonch totally accounting for seven blocks in Jammu region had a peaceful polling today with writ of the militants failing to have any impact on the electorates in 12th phase of the Panchayat elections. A number of polling stations on the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch and Mandi blocks including famous cross-LoC trade route Chakan-Da-Bagh besides Sabjian and Loran areas of Mandi, known for firing and ceasefire violation by Pakistan, had a huge turnout. A total of nine blocks in seven districts of the State went to polls today recording a percentage of 74. Voting percentage for all 12 phases stood at 78.14. Highest turnout of 88 per cent was recorded in Nagseni block of Kishtwar district while lowest poll percentage of 54.3 was reported from Kakapora block of Pulwama district. Voting percentage in other blocks was Poonch (74), Mandi, Poonch (81), Gool, Ramban (83), Ghat, Doda (82.5), Padder, Kishtwar (83), Achabal, Anantnag (71) and Baramulla (74.6). Election was today held for 226 Sarpanch and 1253 Panch constituencies. Nine blocks had 235 Sarpanch and 1783 Panch constituencies. While eight Sarpanches and 492 Panches had been elected unopposed, no nominations had been filed for one Sarpanch and 38 Panch constituencies, all falling in three blocks of Kashmir. Out of a total of 3.14 lakh votes, 2.33 lakh were polled today. With the completion of 12th phase, only four phases have been left for completion of lengthy electoral process of Panchayat elections, which had started on April 13 and would conclude on June 18. In militancy sensitive blocks of Gool in Ramban district, Mandi and Poonch in Jammu region, additional CRPF companies had been deployed in all polling stations to thwart any disruption of polling. Gool block had been rated as highly sensitive in view of recent killing of some top militants including Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) divisional commander Abu Moosa, who had let loose a reign of terror there for several years. Despite threats by the militants, people turned out in large numbers in Gool to cast their votes. Eighty-three per cent turnout was recorded in Gool. Reports said people even in remote and far off mountainous areas voted heavily. Almost all polling stations of the block including hubs of militancy recorded about 80 per cent voting. A number of polling stations in Poonch, Sabjian, Loran and adjoining areas on the LoC also reported a massive turnout ranging between 75 to 90 per cent. Large queues of electorates were seen at Chakan-Da-Bagh where a polling station had been set up ahead of the Trade Centre, a route used for cross-LoC movement of civilians and trade between two parts of the divided State. Voting in Sabjian, Digwar and Loran areas in Mandi block also passed off peacefully. Firing from Pakistan Army to facilitate infiltration attempts by the militants often rocks these areas. However, voting today passed off peacefully amid tight security arrangements made by the authorities. At Morha Ladian polling station in Government primary school, Bhanot in Ward No. 6 of Poonch, one of the two stamps allotted for casting votes, was stolen by some unidentified persons. The stamp remained untraced. At Digwar on the LoC, tension flared up when an entire family of 12 persons headed by Tirath Singh had been listed as dead in the voting list though all of them were alive. Tirath Singh and his family protested against the lapse. At Chandak, Poonch, voting was held up for about half an hour when supporters of some contestants alleged bogus polling by the rivals. However, the issue was sorted out by the election authorities. Deputy Commissioner, Poonch, Ajit Kumar Sahu and SSP Poonch Ashkoor Wani visiting the polling stations set up at the LoC to monitor voting. Twenty-four out of 72 polling stations in Nagseni block of Kishtwar recorded above 90 per cent turnout. Total percentage of the block also stood at 90. Reports said there was much enthusiasm among the people of Padder and Nagseni blocks of Kishtwar and Ghat in Doda. The people voted fearlessly. A large number of women had turned-out for voting in far off areas. Sources in the Elections Department said counting had been completed for majority of Sarpanch and Panch segments by midnight tonight where voting was held in the day. About 98 per cent results had been declared by tonight while election process for 12th phase would be over by tomorrow morning. Out of a total of 45,238 electorates in Baramulla block, 33,784 voted. In Kakapora block of Pulwama, 23,868 electorates used their right to franchise from a total of 43,958. In Achabal block of Anantnag, 42, 781 votes were polled from a total of 60,255. In Padder and Nagseni blocks of Kishtwar district, 11,120 and 8723 people cast their votes from a total of 13,506 and 9912 electorates respectively. In Ghat block of Doda, 22,641 people used their right to votes out of 27,437 while Gool block of Ramban district accounted for 21,175 votes from 25,512. In Mandi and Poonch blocks of Poonch district, 33,904 and 34,965 votes were polled out of a total of 41,856 and 47,249 electorates respectively. Out of a total of 235 Sarpanch constituencies involved in today’s election, eight Sarpanches had been elected unopposed. Two Sarpanches each had been elected uncontested in Kakapora block of Pulwama and Poonch block while one Sarpanch each had won without any contest in Baramulla, Achabal, Ghat and Mandi blocks. At one Sarpanch constituency in Baramulla, no nomination had been filed. Out of 1783 Panch segments involved in today’s polling, 492 were already elected unopposed including 94 in Baramulla block, 81 in Kakapora, 53 in Achabal, 31 in Padder, 23 in Nagseni, 48 in Ghat, 27 in Gool, 75 in Mandi and 60 in Poonch. Of 492 Panches elected unopposed, 200 were women. For 38 Panch constituencies, no nominations had been filed. Nineteen constituencies fell in Baramulla block, 15 in Kakapora and 4 in Achabal. For 226 Sarpanch and 1253 Panch segments, where election was held today, 847 candidates including eight women were in fray for the posts of Sarpanches while 2967 contestants, 870 of them women, were in race for the posts of Panches. Our Srinagar Correspondent adds Brisk polling was recorded in the blocks of Kakapora, Achabal and Baramulla that went to polls for Panchayats today. Reports said that people in large numbers came out and exercised their franchise in these blocks falling in Pulwama, Anantnag and Baramulla districts. Most of the voters used their voting right within the first few hours and they had a reason to smile. 'This is the season of plantation and we need to focus on it, but at the same time we would not lose focus of our voting power. I came out early in the morning to cast my vote and I am glad over this. We are facing problems on account of drinking water, electricity and roads. Our belief is that the elected representatives would solve these problems,' said Irshad Ahmad, a voter at Kakapora. Similar views were expressed by a group of voters waiting for their turn outside a polling booth in this block. These people wanted a solution to their problems and were happy that the Government had taken this step of strengthening the democracy in the State at grassroot level. 'If we want a solution to our problems then we have to contact the local elected representative. Sarpanch comes first followed by the team of Panches. We cannot go to the MLA and seek redressal of our grievances. Credit goes to the State Government for holding Panchayat elections in true spirit and they deserve all the accolades,' said group of youth. Some of the voters were perturbed over the problems being faced by the Kakapora residents with respect to clean and potable drinking water. They wanted the Sarpanch and Panches to solve their problems. 'Our area has always remained neglected when it comes to drinking water facility. There are certain Panchayat halqas where tap water is available but in most of the Panchayat halqas, people have to consume dirty water. This I believe should be primary job of our elected representatives and I hope they deliver the goods,' said Mohammad Ishaq, a resident. There were some others in this block who think that the foremost priority should be the upkeep of the roads and they want the elected representatives to address this issue at the earliest. 'In today's world connectivity in the form of good roads hold key to the future of a nation or a State. But when it comes to our block I must say we are living in a primitive world where few drops of rain make the roads, lanes and by-lanes muddy. As such I would hope that Sarpanch and Panches would devote their attention to this problem and get it resolved,' said Ali Mohammad, a resident. Reports from Achabal and Baramulla said that people in overwhelming numbers came out to cast their vote during the elections. The electorate wanted the elected representatives to come up to their expectations and get their problems solved.