Anantnag voting ends peacefully but with low turnout

Srinagar: Amid heavy security arrangements, voting ended peacefully on Tuesday in the first phase of the three-phased Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag constituency.

The constituency spans the Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian districts. On Tuesday, polling was only held in Anantnag district.

Poll officials said barring a few incidents of stone pelting in Dialgam and Damhal (Kokernag) areas, voting in the six segments of Anantnag ended peacefully at 4 p.m.

Security forces used tear gas to disperse stone pelters who tried to dissuade voters from reaching polling stations.

“Voter turnout remained low with only 13 per cent voters exercising their democratic right. The overall voter turnout is likely to improve marginally after exact poll figures are available by the evening,” an official said.

Security forces, out in force on the roads and hillsides overlooking polling stations to deter any militant attack and to provide voters safe passage, ensured peaceful polling in the otherwise volatile Anantnag district. Mobile Internet facility and train services had been suspended for the day.

No militancy-related incident was reported from anywhere in the district, poll officials said.

After a slow start as polling centres opened at 7 a.m., voting picked up gradually on Tuesday in rural and hilly areas while it remained very low in urban centres.

Queues of voters were seen in Shangus, Kokernag, Dooru and Pahalgam where voters came out in good numbers. However, people only came out in ones and twos to cast their votes in towns like Anantnag and Bijbehara.

Peoples Democratic Party President Mehbooba Mufti, who is contesting from the seat, cast her vote at a polling station in Bijbehara.

The former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister faces state Congress President Ghulam Ahmed Mir, the National Conference’s Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Sofi Yusuf and People’s Conference candidate, Chowdhury Zafar Ali.

Authorities had set up 26 polling stations outside the Kashmir Valley for Kashmiri Pandit migrant voters. Of these, 21 were in Jammu, four in Delhi and one in Udhampur district.

Voting is scheduled in Kulgam on April 29 and on May 6 in Shopian and Pulwama districts. Votes will be counted on May 23.