Moderate turnout in Baramulla, brisk in Ladakh

Posted By: IANS
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Baramulla/Leh, May 7: There was brisk polling for Jammu and Kashmir's Ladakh Lok Sabha seat on Wednesday while a moderate turnout was recorded in the state's Baramulla constituency, where voters defied a separatist call for a poll boycott.

With more voters coming out to exercise their franchise, the voting percentage rose to 30 in Baramulla by 3 p.m. while it stood at 50 percent in Ladakh, officials said.

In the Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency, Karnah assembly segment saw over 50 percent polling while the lowest was recorded in Sopore assembly segment where less than 1 percent voters exercised their franchise by 3 p.m.

Long queues were seen in Hajin, Dangerpora, Malroo and Nesbal villages in the Sumbal assembly segment despite fears that voters might prefer to stay away from polling stations, heeding a boycott call by the separatists.

In Baramulla town, where the poll authorities have clustered 11 polling stations in the old town for security reasons, just 25 votes were cast by 3 p.m.

Baramulla town is a bastion of hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, who has given a poll boycott call in the Kashmir Valley.

The main contest in Baramulla is between the ruling National Conference candidate Sharief-ud-Din Shariq who is seeking re-election and Muzaffar Hussain Baig of the regional Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

There are 13 other candidates in the fray and prominent among them are Engineer Rashid, a sitting Jammu and Kashmir legislator, and Salamuddin Bajad, a tribal Gujjar fielded by the Peoples Conference (PC) headed by Sajjad Gani Lone.

There are 11.89 lakh voters in Baramulla. In the 2009 elections, 41.84 percent voters exercised their franchise.

Meanwhile, queues of voters, both men and women, could be seen even before the voting started at 7 a.m. at the Goma polling station in Kargil district in Ladakh's Lok Sabha constituency.

Kargil registered 60 percent voter turnout while 45 percent voters exercised their franchise in Leh district by 3 p.m. People also turned up early in the morning in Nubra and Zanskar assembly segments of Ladakh.

In the 2009 elections, 71.86 percent votes were polled in Ladakh.

Poll officials, some of whom spoke to IANS, said they are expecting the voting percentage to increase given the enthusiasm of the voters.

"They have turned out in large numbers to cast their votes. We expect the poll percentages to cross the 2009 figure this time," said Ghulam Ahmad, an assistant returning officer in Leh district.

The voters wore their traditional dresses to the polling stations.

As many as 1.59 lakh voters get to decide the fate of four candidates for the Ladakh Lok Sabha seat. They are Tsering Samphal of the Congress, Thupstan Chhewang of the Bharatiya Janata Party and two Independents, Ghulam Raza and Sayed Mohammad Kazim.

[Know your state this LS poll: Jammu and Kashmir]


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