Despite an encounter raging between security forces and terrorists in the area in the morning and election boycott call by Separatists, 14.5 per cent electorate in Kulgam, the epicentre of terrorism, showed courage on Tuesday to cast their vote in the fourth of the 9-phase polling for the Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

The South Kashmir districts of Kulgam, Pulwama and Anantnag were among the 15 districts where polling for 339 sarpanch and 1749 panch seats was held.

Anantnag, which is also considered hotbed of terror activities, registered 6.2 per cent polling. The lowest percentage of 0.6 was recorded at Pulwama.

Although low, it was to the credit of the electorate who dared to come out of their homes to cast their votes at these three places of South Kashmir that had recently witnessed incidents of abduction of several innocent people and their brutal killing of terrorists.

Various terrorist outfits had also warned the people to keep away from polling booths.

Chief Electoral Officer, Shaleen Kabra, said that 71.3 per cent polling was recorded today in Jammu-Kashmir. Giving break up of polling, he said that 32.3 per cent votes were cast in the areas of Kashmir that went to polls while the polling percentage in Jammu division was 82.4.

The other four districts of the Valley recorded encouraging polling with Kupwara recording 56.1 per cent, Bandipura 24.4 per cent, Baramulla 62.4 per cent and Budgam 46.3 per cent.

The 8 districts of Jammu division witnessed brisk polling with Kishtwar 82.3 per cent, Doda 84.6 per cent, Ramban 81.1 per cent, Udhampur 78.9 per cent, Kathua 80.7 per cent, Rajouri 81.8 per cent, Poonch 65 per cent and Jammu 85.2.

According to the chief electoral officer, Shaleen Kabra, 99 sarpanch and 969 panch have already unopposed won the 4th phase of the election.

A total of 2618 polling stations – 639 in Kashmir and 1979 in Jammu – were set up for today’s polling. Of the polling stations in Kashmir, 571 were categorised as ‘hypersensitive’.