Srinagar, April 29: Voting in the second phase of the troubled Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency in Jammu and Kashmir ended on Monday marred by street protests but with only 10 per cent of the electorate coming out to vote.
Two youths sustained pellet injuries in clashes with the security forces in Kulgam district. Both were shifted to Srinagar for treatment, police said.
Although there are 18 candidates in Anantnag, one of three Lok Sabha seats in the Kashmir Valley, the main contest involves former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of the People’s Democratic Party, Ghulam Ahmad Mir of Congress and Justice (Retired) Hasnain Masoodi of the National Conference.
The total electorate eligible to vote on Monday was 345,486 and covers Kulgam district. The first phase of voting involved Anantnag district and the third and final round will cover the districts of Pulwama and Shopian.
Despite the promise of unprecedented security, the voter turnout was pathetic on Monday.
Of the 76,468 voters in Nooradabad Assembly segnment, only 15,663 voted. In Devsar, of the total 91,233, a mere 15,160 came to the polling booths.
In Kulgam, out of 97,569 voters, a merely 1,684 exercised their right to franchise. The voting percentage was more pathetic in Homshalibugh: out of 78,278 voters, only 891 voted.
Indeed, more migrant voters — 1,762 — voted in Jammu, Udhampur and Delhi, officials said. This was out of 1,938 migrant voters.
An Election Commission official here said the overall total voter turnout came to 10.2 per cent.
As the voting began, some youths took to the streets throwing stones to disrupt the polling. Security forces then opened fire to disperse the mobs.
At the Laram polling station in Homshalibugh, voting was delayed for 40 minutes due to a faulty Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).
A total of 433 polling stations had been set up at 244 locations.
As a precaution, mobile Internet services were suspended in the south Kashmir areas. Train services between Baramulla and Banihal were also cancelled.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded Sofi Yusuf and the People’s Conference Choudhary Zafar Ali. In addition, a woman candidate, Ridwana Sanam, is contesting as an Independent.
For the first time in the electoral history of the state, a non-local, Shams Khwaja, a lawyer from Uttar Pradesh, is also in the race.
The last phase of the three-phased poll process in this constituency is scheduled on May 6