The fifth phase of the Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections saw relatively low voter turnout (47 per cent) on Saturday. It was also for the first time in the seven-phase polls that the state witnessed incidents of violence.
One person was killed and four injured when police opened fire at an anti-election rally at Koyal village in Pulwama. Besides, seven persons were picked up in a police crackdown.
Elections were held in 11 constituencies of Pulwama and Shopian districts in the Valley and Jammu’s Kathua district. Official figures said the two Valley districts recorded a turnout of around 57 per cent.
Divisional Commissioner Masood Samoon said Tral recorded the highest polling percentage of 50 per cent against 11.55 per cent in the 2002 assembly elections. He said Pulwama recorded 45 per cent (against 18.13 per cent), Pampore 46 per cent (19.1 per cent), Rajpora 45 per cent (36 per cent) and Shopian 49 per cent (26 per cent).
“The poll percentage is tentative, it can go up,” Samoon said.
Soon after polling began in the morning, several hundred protesters gathered outside the polling stations, chanting anti-election slogans. The police cane-charged the protesters and fired teargas shells to disperse them. But as this failed to control the mob, the police opened fire.
Later, anti-poll demonstrations were held at Samboora, Nihama, Rajpora, Parigam, Karimabad, Woyen and half a dozen other villages. At Samboora village in Pampore assembly segment, only one vote — that of a polling agent of a candidate – out of 741 was cast.
“We are for boycott. Elections are no solution to the Kashmir issue. Even those who have cast their votes are for azadi,” said Master Abdul Rasheed.
Low polling was also seen at the Jamaat-e-Islami-dominated areas of Wachi constituency in Shopian. At Mooloo Chitragam, the ancestral village of former Jamaat chief Hakeem Ghulam Nabi, only 106 votes out of a total of 1,203 were polled.
However, brisk polling was witnessed in Shopian, Kakapora, Pinglina, Druso, Prechu, Pinjoora, Tranj, Chitrgam, Reshipora, Aglar and Littar villages. Voters turned up in large numbers in areas of Tral constituency as well.