People boycott Hurriyat’s boycott call, 71.1 percent vote in 2nd phase of Panchayat elections

TSL News Network

JAMMU, Nov 20: Poll boycott call of separatists and terrorists is having no impact across Jammu and Kashmir. The second phase of panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday recorded a massive 71.1 percent turnout.

The record turnout during the Panchayat elections is all set to re-ignite the debate in Kashmir valley over separatism being a completely urban phenomenon. Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Jammu and Kashmir Shaleen Kabra said “An overwhelming 80.4 percent polling was witnessed in Jammu division and 52.2 percent in Kashmir division.”

According to Shaleen Kabra, Udhampur district in Jammu recorded the highest turnout of 83.9 percent while Anantnag district in South Kashmir recorded the lowest at 1%. In Kashmir, Kupwara district topped with 69.7% polling, followed by Kargil at 66.5% and Bandipora and Leh, which recorded 66.3% turnout. In Ganderbal, 27.4% of the electorate voted while in Baramulla the figure was 11.2%.

Giving district-wise details, Kabra said that Kupwara witnessed 69.7%, Bandipora 66.3%, Baramulla 11.2%, Ganderbal 27.4%, Anantnag 1%, Kargil, 66.5%, Leh 66.3%, Kishtwar 77.8%, Doda 81.7%, Ramban, 72.3%, Udhampur 83.9%, Kathua 78.7%, Rajouri 83.5% and Poonch 81.7%.

Pertinently, in the Phase-I of Panchayat Polls held on 17 November 2018, 74.1% polling was recorded across the State with 64.5% in Kashmir division and 79.5% in Jammu division. For Phase-III of Panchayat Polls, voting will take place on 24 November 2018.

Seven more phases will be held until December 11. The election panel set up 2,179 polling stations, of which 828 are in Kashmir and 1,351 in the Jammu division. At least 601 of these stations have been  categorised as hypersensitive, including 490 in Kashmir division and 111 in Jammu. According to Kabra, 4,014 candidates were in the fray for 281 sarpanch and 1,286 Panch seats in the second phase. Ninety sarpanches and 1,069 Panches were elected unopposed.

The separatist group Joint Resistance Leadership had called for a complete shutdown in Kalaroos, Machil, Rajwar, Ganstan, Nowgam, Sangrama, Wagoora, Kangan, Rathsun and Bijbehara areas to protest against the “sham panchayat elections thrust on them by the authoritarian state”. The separatists had asked people to “demonstrate their total rejection and disregard of this futile exercise by staying away and boycotting it completely”.

The National Conference, the People’s Democratic Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) boycotted the elections over the lack of clarity on Article 35A of the Constitution, which grants special rights and privileges to the state’s citizens. The three parties did not participate in last month’s urban local body elections as well.