Deserted polling booths, clashes mark polling

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 4/24/2019 11:29:55 AM

Low to moderate turn-out in Anantnag Phase I

SRINAGAR, Apr 23: Deserted booths in most areas and low to moderate turn out of voters in some other areas today marked the polling in Anantnag district of Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency today.
The polling was held amid a boycott and shutdown call by separatists and tight security arrangements by the government. The polling was marred by clashes at a number of places also.
The contest in Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency is being closely watched due to the presence of former chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti in the fray. Congress too has fielded its strong man from south Kashmir G A Mir. National Conference is banking on a new political entrant Justice ( Rtd) Hasnain Masoodi.
The response of voters in whole Anantnag district was almost similar to that of Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency, which went to polls on April 18 recording 14.1 poll percent.
According to official figures the poll percentage was 13.63 in Anantnag district today.
Two important assembly segments from PDP's point of view- Bijbehara and Anantnag were almost indifferent to polls. Bijbehara recorded 2.04 percent and Anantnag 3.47 percent. Scores of polling booths in these areas recorded zero polling. Deserted polling booth with polling staff waiting for the voters could be seen at the polling stations for a number of villages including Wofzen, Mehand, Kanilwan, Sirhama, Ghatalipora and Khiram. A polling agent of NC was allegedly thrashed by PDP workers at a polling station at Bijbehara on the issue if bogus voting
Mehbooba cast her vote at a polling station at Bijbehara. She had got elected from Bijbehara in 1996 assembly polls on Congress ticket.
Mehbooba had won the assembly bye election from Anantnag after the death of her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as she became the first woman chief minister of the state.
"This is not for the first time that Bijbehara town was indifferent to polling. This has been happening here in the past. However, a number of villages used to vote in past but this time, the voters are missing there also," said Rayees Ahmad, a local.
However, long queues of voters were seen in a number of polling stations in Pahalgam assembly segment which recorded the highest poll percentage with 20.37 percent in whole Anantnag district assembly segments. These votes can help Mehbooba to some extent even as National Conference is also expecting good share of votes from there. In the last assembly, their leader Altaf Kaloo represented the constituency.
Long queues of voters were also seen in a number of polling stations at Kokernag, Dooru and Shangus areas also. Dooru and Kokernag are said to be strongholds of Congress candidate G A Mir. Intetestingly some polling stations in these two assembly segments also witnesses zero or low turn-out of voters. "This election is a fight between secular and communal forces. I have come out to strengthen secular forces and vote," said Imtiyaz Ahmad at Dooru.
Amid boycott and polling, clashes erupted in different parts of Anantnag district including Hawkora Gund, Daharna, Briniti, Dayalgam, Sofishali Kokarnag, Wanihama, Kenalwan,Seerhamdan and other areas.
Violent clashes erupted in Daharna village when protesters tried to attack a polling booth. The forces allegedlly resorted to pellet shelling resulting in the injuries of several youth. Reports said that an 18-year-old youth whom locals identified as Adil Rashid Malik suffered pellet injuries in his face. He was rushed to district hospital Anantnag for advanced treatment.
Kulgam district of Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency is going to polls on April 29, while Pulwama and Shopian districts on May 6.



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