SRI NAGAR: The second phase of the Urban Local Bodies (ULB) polls in Jammu and Kashmir concluded on Wednesday with only a 3%turnout in the militancy-ridden Kashmir Valley. However, the Jammu region witnessed a turnout of 76%. A total of 1029 candidates were in Wednesday’s fray for 362 wards. Of the 362 wards, 214 are in Jammu while 148 are in Kashmir.
J&K’s Chief Electoral Officer Shaleen Kabra said, “the overall polling percentage in the second phase of the ULB polls stood at 31.3%.” In Jammu division, the highest polling percentage (84.4%) was recorded in Reasi followed by Ramban (79.5%), Kathua (79.4%), Udhampur (79.2%), Kishtwar and Doda, both of which saw a 72.8% turnout. According to Kabra, in Kashmir, Bandipora witnessed the highest turnout (35.6%) while Anantnag saw a 1.1 % turnout, Baramulla saw 7%, Kupwara saw 5.1% and Srinagar 2.3 %.
The polling, which started at 6 pm, concluded at 4 pm after an hour’s extension granted by Kabra.
“So many people have died in Kashmir since 2016. What should we vote for,” said youngster Mohammad Uzair of the Bemina East Municipal ward. People in Srinagar, central Kashmir’s Budgam and south Kashmir’s Anantnag and Kulgam wards largely stayed away from polling stations. However, brisk polling was reported at several booths in Sumbal, Bandipora district and across all 214 wards in Jammu.
Security arrangements were tight with police and paramilitary personnel deployed across the Valley.
The elections have been boycotted by two of the major political parties in the state — the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party — and separatists and militants have called for a boycott as well over the Central government’s stand on Article 35A of the constitution which grants special privileges to the residents of the state.
The third and 4th phase of the ULB polls would be held on October 13 and 16 while counting of votes would take place on October 20. Meanwhile, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate in the Ramban district, Azad Singh Raju, died of a heart attack inside a local booth just before he cast his vote. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was declared dead.