Polling booths were deserted in Bijbehara that is the home segment of PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, whereas enthusiasm was seen among the voters who queued outside the polling stations at Dooru which is the assembly segment of Congress candidate GA Mir during the first phase of the three-phase polling for South Kashmir’s Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency on Tuesday.
Despite the poll-boycott call of separatists in the Anantnag district, which is the epicentre of terrorism, 12.86% electorate, including women, showed courage to turn out at the polling stations to cast their vote.
In view of the terror threat, polling for the Anantnag Lok Sabha has been scheduled for three phases with the Anantnag district going to polls on Tuesday. Polling in the other three districts, Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian will be held on April 29 and May 6. The Election Commission has also cut the polling time by two hours, 7 am to 4 pm, as a precautionary measure.
The polling booths at Bijbehara, which was very well nursed also by Mehbooba’s father late Mufti Sayeed, wore a deserted look right from the morning when only 0.27% votes were cast in the first two hours of polling till 9 am. Her assembly segment recorded the lowest voting of 2.04% when the polling concluded. The Anantnag segment, which is also considered the stronghold of PDP, polled 3.47% votes.
However, enthusiasm was witnessed in the Dooru and Kokernag segments where 17.28% and 19.50% votes were cast. Congress party enjoys influence in both these segments.
Prominent among the 18 candidates in the fray are; Mehbooba Mufti (PDP), GA Mir (Congress), Hasnain Masoodi (National Conference) and Sofi Yousuf (BJP).
Low polling of 1.55% was recorded in the first two hours of voting till 9 am in the district and the polling percentage increased to 12.86% when polling concluded in the evening. However, the final trend will get indicated only when polling is held in the other three districts in the Anantnag constituency.
The Pahalgam segment witnessed the highest polling of 20.37%, while the lowest polling, 2.04%, was in Bijbehara. The polling percentage in the other four segments was: Anantnag 3.47, Dooru 17.28, Kokernag 19.50 and Shangus 15.10.
National Conference enjoys influence in Shangus and Pahalgam segments.
Supporters of separatists and terrorists tried to create a scare among the electorate by pelting stones at several polling stations on Monday evening. Separatists have given a call for poll-boycott in Anantnag constituency that had recently witnessed the worst terror strike in Pulwama where more than 40 CRPF personnel were martyred in February. A shutdown was also observed in the area during the polling.
Mobile internet services in the area have been snapped as a precautionary measure.
Security forces, including the Army, BSF, CRPF, ITBP and J&K Police were deployed in strength to thwart any attempt to disturb the polling process.
In the initial two hours, an abysmally low voter turnout indicated that the poll-boycott call of separatists had worked as out of the 716 registered voters in the Muniwara A polling station, only 35 votes were cast while not even a single vote was cast out of the 804 voters in the Muniwara B station. Only eight votes were cast till 10 AM out of the registered 602 electorate at the Takiya Behram Shah polling station.
The Anantnag district has 5, 29,256 electors including 2, 69,603 male and 2, 57,540 females. For smooth polling, 714 polling stations were set up in the district.