Voting continues peacefully in J-K

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Ganderbal/ Rajouri (J-K), Nov 23 : People in Ganderbal and Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir cast their votes on Sunday during the second phase of the scheduled seven-phased assembly elections in the state.

The voting in two constituencies of Ganderbal and four constituencies of Rajouri districts are taking place a day after two people including a teenage boy were shot dead by troops during anti-elections protest in Baramullah town, some 55 kilometers from Srinagar.

Sunday's voting will decide the fate of 22 candidates including state's former ruling party National Conference's chief Omar Abdullah.

Surprisingly ten seats, which went to polls on November 17 across Jammu and Kashmir, saw a high turnout of 64 per cent.

Abdullah said that high voter turnout could be termed as a growing interest among the people to resolve their day-to-day issues.

"I think the huge voter turnout is the symbolic of the sensibility and the way in which the Kashmiri voter has been able to compartmentalize. They realised they have concerns, they have issues, on day-to-day basis, that they need to resolve. Some of them may be voting because they feel what is the current dispensation is correct, some of them don't," Abdullah said in Ganderbal.

Previous elections have seen militants threatening violence to enforce their call for a boycott, and security personnel trying to coerce people to vote. This time the militants said they would not interfere and the soldiers kept a low profile.

On Sunday voters were seen rushing towards the polling booths since morning.

"We came here around 7.00 in the morning. We are voting because we believe that it will solve our problem of unemployment besides our day-to-day issues," said Shabir Ahmad, a resident.

Meanwhile, polling was peaceful and large numbers of voters queued up outside polling stations in Rajouri.

"I am thankful to the government for conducting polls in such a disciplined manner. Females are posted here on duty, who are frisking women. A woman and two men are going in to cast votes as per their turn. It's been long that we are here in a long queue," said Gul Naz, a resident.

Six constituencies where the votes are being polled include Rajouri, Naushera, Darhal and Kalakot in Rajouri district and Ganderbal and Kangan in Ganderbal district.

The Election Commission has appointed 110 observers in Rajouri District to keep vigil on violence-prone sensitive stations.

More than 3,53,000 voters will decide the fate of 59 candidates including 27 independents. Central Paramilitary forces will man all 454 polling stations while the army personnel will provide additional security cover in sensitive areas.

Security is especially tight in about 200 polling stations situated near the Line of Control.

The Election Commission on Sunday directed the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to ensure that the political functionaries shall not be allowed to remain present in the constituencies in which they are not electors after the period of campaigning is over in Jammu and Kashmir.

Meanwhile, filing of nominations for the sixth phase of polls began in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday.

In the first four phases, the number of candidates showed a marked increase this time as compared to last time. In the Kashmir division the number has gone up to more than double. Meanwhile, high-pitched campaigning is going on peacefully for the third, fourth and fifth phase of elections.

Separatist leaders, who either want Kashmir to become independent or part of Pakistan, have appealed for an election boycott after some of the biggest anti-India protests were staged in Kashmir this year since an insurgency began in 1989.

Meanwhile an estimated 500,000 Indian troops are stationed in the region to defend the frontier, fight separatist militants and now provide security to the elections.

ANI

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