Bullets overshadow ballots in Kashmir's Anantnag, only 28% votes cast
In a bullet-versus-ballot battle, bullet had the upper hand in at least three districts out of four in Anantnag constituency on Thursday, the valley's first parliament seat that witnessed turnout of around 28%. Militants attack CRPF vehicle in Shopian, poll officer killed, 5 injuredindia Updated: Apr 24, 2014 23:15 IST
In a bullet-versus-ballot battle, bullet had the upper hand in at least three districts out of four in Anantnag constituency, the valley's first parliament seat that witnessed poll percentage of around 28% on Thursday.
The figure was similar to the previous poll percentage of 27.1 in 2009.
Though polling started on a slower note across 16 assembly segments, because of recent militant violence and separatist boycott campaign, ruling National Conference bastion Noorabad assembly constituency witnessed brisk polling as the day proceeded.
Out of 1,943 votes at a polling station at Noorabad's DH Pora, around 657 cast votes by 11am.
"We are voting for madam (NC's Sakina Yatoo)," said Zeenat Jan, a 32-year-old voter.
Haji Ghulam Ahmad Laway, a 110-year-old voter, also made his vote count and hoped to "see prosperity for Kulgam" through his franchise.
Similarly, opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) bastion Anantnag assembly segment also witnessed comparatively better voting, around 30% by noon. Most voters vouched for PDP's Mehbooba Mufti at the tourist spot Pahalgam.
Also read:Polling picks up in Anantnag, Kulgam, tension prevails in Shopian, Pulwama
"The PDP provided better governance during its tenure. We want Mehbooba to represent us in the parliament now," said Ejaz Ahmad, a voter in Anantnag area.
With Congress-NC coalition candidate Mehboob Beg pitted against PDP's Mehbooba Mufti, game-changers for these parties remain Congress voters and socio-religious group Jamaat-e-Islami. Votes in Congress' bastions Dooru and Kokernag remained split as the NC-Cong voters failed to put up a joint face.
"NC-Congress voters could not turn up in strength. We are disappointed," admitted NC polling agent Parvaiz Ahmad at Kokernag.
Similarly, Jamaat dominated areas of Kulgam and Shopian districts stayed away from polls, denting the PDP's chances.
In 2002, the Jamaat, a significant political force in Kulgam and Shopian, in a secret alliance did vote for the PDP to bring it to power.
Pulwama district, which just polled 5% till 3pm, remained tense throughout the day with roads and polling booths wearing a deserted look. At least six people, including cops and sarpanches, were killed by militants in the run up to the polls.
Several polling staff vehicles were attacked since Wednesday by stone-throwing youth. Polling staff in these two districts were dropped during the dead of night because of the volatile situation.
Security forces resorted to aerial firing and tear-smoke shelling to contain situation from going out of hand.
"Very few are turning up for voting," said PDP polling agent Yawar Banday. In tense Shopian town, stone-throwers held sway over several areas and the army was also out helping the CRPF to maintain calm.
In another case of violence, a polling officer was killed and five others were critically injured after unidentified gunmen opened fire at them in Shopian's Nagbal area, the police said.
PDP's father-daughter duo, patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed and president Mehbooba Mufti, cast rheir votes around 5pm.
"It was not easy for people to vote. I know what people went through to cast their franchise. I am hopeful to win the seat with a good margin," said Mehbooba.
Anantnag constituency: An overview
4 districts | 16 assembly segments | 12.72 lakh electorate | 6.01 lakh women
Full coverage:My India my vote
Key candidates in fray
Here's a map for the constituencies going to polls on Thursday. On searching, you will get details of all parties fighting from a constituency and key candiates there: