Voters reject boycott call; 57% polling in J

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Srinagar/Jammu , Nov 17 (UNI) An estimated 57 per cent of 6,06,667 voters cast their ballots in ten assembly seats in the first phase of the seven-tier elections in Jammu and Kashmir, where a poll boycott call by separatists failed to evoke any response.

Official sources said a 57 per cent voter turnout was recorded in by and large peaceful elections.

Barring an anti-poll protest by a few hundred people, who were chased away by the police at Bandipora, the polling remained by and large incident free. About 20 people were injured in the clash.

However, security forces across the state have been put on maximum alert in view of the poll boycott call given by the Coordination Committee (CC), spearheading the agitation in Kashmir and the strike call by the separatists.

State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) B R Sharma told reporters this evening that polling was by and large peaceful, barring some incidents of violence.

He said the initial reports had said that 55 per cent polling was recorded in the ten constituencies. ''However, we are still receiving information from some far-flung and remote areas. The voting percentage may increase after getting information from all places,'' he added.

He said Gurez near the Line of Control (LoC) witnessed the highest 74 per cent turnout against the 76 per cent witnessed in the 2002 polls. The percentage had dropped because of the weather, he said.

Gurez was followed by Mendhar 65.3 per cent against 60 per cent in 2002, Poonch 64 per cent against 60 per cent in the last polls, Surankote 58 per cent and Kargil 57 per cent against 74 per cent in 2002.

In the Nobra constituency, where the temperature was minus ten degrees, about 55 per cent voters cast their ballots and Leh 53 per cent, Zanaskar 48 per cent and Bandipora and Sonawari 42 per cent each. The reason for this was the severe cold, he said.

The spokesman said...Eds here pl pick up from para five of Dr 25 ''ELECTION J&K FOURTH LEAD POLLING''.

UNI BAS RR AS1928

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