SRINAGAR: Nearly 28 per cent votes were polled in south Kashmir’s Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency that went to polls on Thursday, according to the Chief Electoral Officer, as he blamed the recent killings by suspected militants in Pulwama for the decline in voter turnout.
“Evidently, some incidents in Pulwama led to the low voter turnout. We will do analysis of what has happened,” the CEO Umang Narula told reporters during a briefing here.
The Anantnag constituency, which has over 1.2 million voters, half of them women, will decide the fate of 12 candidates including ruling National Conference’s sitting MP, Mehboob Beg, and opposition People’s Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti. Around 1600 polling stations were established in the four south Kashmir districts for smooth conduct of elections.
Narula said that in comparison to 2009 Lok Sabha elections when the constituency had witnessed 27 per cent polling, this time the constituency witnessed an estimated 28 per cent turnout. He said the total poll percentage might shoot up because the details were still pouring.
“Pulwama district witnessed 6.32 per cent polls, Shopian 20.43 per cent, Kulgam 36.68 per cent and Anantnag 37.76 per cent. Baring some mild incidents, the polling remained by and large normal,” he said.
“In Pulwama district last elections witnessed a voter turnout of 10.49 per cent. We also witnessed 40 per cent turnout in migrant votes. 4000 migrants cast their votes at the polling booths set up in Jammu and Delhi,” he added.
When asked about the poll percentage in Tral and Pulwama towns, where suspected militants shot dead three people, including a Congress Sarpanch and his son on Monday night, Narula said that he hasn’t received the breakup for assembly constituency wise. He also declined information on the same grounds on polling booths were a minimum or 10 votes or none were cast.
Narula also refused to comment on whether the poll boycott call by pro-freedom groups has been taken well in south Kashmir.
Responding to a question that the heightened deployment of forces prevented people in Samboora from voting, Narula said that deployments “are made to get the maxim voter turnout”. However, he said, he was not aware that voters faced inconvenience at Samboora.
Chipping in, IGP Kashmir, Abdul Gani Mir said the deployments are “made to bring confidence among the voters”.
Mir said that he has received a complaint of alleged assault on some journalists covering elections in south Kashmir and that he will take appropriate action after receiving report of the enquiry ordered into the incident.
“A gazetted officer will probe the allegations. We’re enquiring the matter. Appropriate action will be initiation soon,” Mir said.