SRI NAGAR: In an unexpected turn of events, voter turnout has increased in the volatile Sopore Assembly constituency in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district and the Soibugh area in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, hometowns of separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin respectively, in the third phase of the elections.
Chief Electoral Officer Umang Narula on Tuesday said Sopore, where the people had been boycotting elections, witnessed 30 percent polling. In the 2008 elections, the constituency registered 19.95 percent polling while 24.34 percent of the voters exercised their franchise in 2002.
Geelani had won elections from the seat three times --1972,1977 and 1987 -- before militancy erupted in the state in 1989.
Though 15 candidates are in the fray, the main contest in the constituency is between the National Conference’s sitting MLA, Mohammad Ashraf Ganai, the Congress’s Abdul Rashid Dar and the PDP’s Nazir Ahmad Naikoo. In the hometown of Salahuddin, who is living in Pakistan, people defied the separatists’ boycott call and voted in large numbers.
The residents who had been staying away from elections said: “The roads in the area are in bad shape. Besides, we are facing acute water shortage, outages and unemployment. We exercised our right this time to get our day-to-day issues resolved.”
Voter turnout was on the higher side in five other constituencies in Baramulla district as well. However, polling in Uri dropped by two percent. In 2008, the constituency recorded 81.73 percent voter turnout which fell to 79 percent this time.
Parrikar To Visit J&K Today
New Delhi: In the wake of the series of terror strikes in Jammu and Kashmir, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will visit Srinagar to assess the security situation there on Thursday. Parrikar’s daylong visit to an Operation Corps of the Army will be his maiden trip to the Valley after assuming office. According to officials, Parrikar will visit the 15 Corps’ headquarters in Srinagar, where he will be briefed about the situation along the Line of Control. Eight Army men, including a Lt. Colonel, and three police personnel were killed in two terror attacks, at Nowgam and Uri on December 1 and December 5 respectively. Six militants were also killed in the attacks.