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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Dec 2014

Voters trickle in Kashmir's Anantnag, 16% voting till 1pm

Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, April 24, 2014
First Published: 09:33 IST(24/4/2014) | Last Updated: 15:05 IST(24/4/2014)

Voting picked up in Anantnag and Kulgam districts of Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency on Thursday where 26.11 and 22.48% votes were cast till 1pm as voters turned up slowly at polling booths, election officials said.

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However, Shopian and Pulwama districts witnessed the least turnouts of 12.32% and 4.14% respectively, they added.

The overall voter turnout, however, remained low in the constituency with a little more than 16% voters turning up till 1pm.

"My vote will change life for good," said Haji Ghulam Ahmad Laway, a 110-year-old voter at Kulgam's HC Gam.

Although 12 candidates are in the fray for this Lok Sabha seat spread over 16 assembly segments in four districts, the contest is expected to be a direct fight between ruling National Conference candidate Mehboob Beigh and opposition PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.

Of the 16 assembly segments, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) MLAs represent 12, the Congress two and the National Conference (NC) and the CPI-M one each.

Beigh, NC candidate from Anantnag constituency who is seeking a re-election, cast his vote around 11am from Sarnal. Beigh faces a challenge from PDP president Mufti.

Speaking to the media, Beigh said he was hopeful of a win again.

"I am very hopeful of a win. Have never seen such enthusiastic rallies since 1990s. Besides we have full support of Congress this time, which has a strong vote bank in the area. So, we are hopeful of a win with a bigger margin,'' he said.

Beigh reiterated his performance in Parliament was better than Mufti.

"Compare our respective tenures in Parliament. I have taken the voice of my people to Parliament, utilised the funds better,'' he added.

In Pulwama and Shopian districts, incidents of police crackdown and stone pelting have forced people to stay indoors.

"Even if people wanted to vote, they have decided not to after the excesses of the police. They entered our villages and broke window panes," alleged a resident of Weil village of Shopian.

A shutdown is being observed in Shopian town and stone throwing protesters were not allowing voters to cast their ballot in several areas.

Several people said they are boycotting polls on the call of separatists.

Over 1.2 million electors are eligible to exercise their franchise in 1,615 polling booths. This is the third round of voting in Jammu and Kashmir where balloting will be completed in five phases. Voting in two Lok Sabha constituencies has already been completed.

(With PTI and IANS inputs)

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