64% voter turnout in J

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Srinagar/New Delhi, Nov 18 (UNI) About 64 per cent of 6,06,667 voters cast their ballots in 10 Assembly constituencies in the first phase of seven-stage elections in Jammu and Kashmir yesterday, which was hailed by the Congress as the victory of democracy.

According to state Chief Electoral Officer B R Sharma, the poll percentage announced as 55 per cent last evening climbed to 64 per cent with reports from far-flung and remote areas reaching here late last night.

''Gurez recorded 74.10 per cent Bandipora 57.08, Sonawari 46.05 (tentative), Nobra 60.16 (tentative), Leh 60.40, Kargil 60.02, Zanskar 60.19(tentative), Surankote 68.01, Mendhar 73.05, Poonch-Haveli 73.23 per cent,'' Mr Sharma said today.

Hailing it as the victory of democracy, the Congress in New Delhi said the "huge" voter turnout in the first phase poll in Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections yesterday augured well for the unity and integrity of the nation.

AICC spokesman Manish Tewari told newspersons that it was the rule of the Congress in the past three years that had encouraged the people to participate in the electoral process in huge number.

He said though the law and order situation deteriorated in the wake of the Amarnath land row, it was the development works undertaken by the Congress that had reinforced a lot of confidence in the minds of the people and encouraged them to participate in the election.

In Jammu and Kashmir, where the President's rule was imposed six months ago after Congress Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad resigned after his government lost majority, voters turned up in huge numbers and cast their ballots in ten assembly seats in the first phase of the seven-tier polls.

''In spite of the secessionist politics and support of the BJP for the forces favouring trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir, the people had demonstrated their faith in democracy which augurs well for the unity and integrity of the country,'' Mr Tewari said.

''We wish that the remaining phases of the polls in Jammu and Kashmir are also peaceful with a huge voter turn out so that the Congress can come to power and continue with its development works in the state,'' the AICC spokesman added.

UNI TEAM AE RP KN1853

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