Srinagar: More people on Wednesday stayed away from voting than those who turned up to exercise their franchise to decide fate of 14 candidates including National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah and opposition Peoples Democratic Party’s Tariq Hamid Karra from Lok Sabha’s Srinagar constituency.
According to Chief Electoral Officer Umang Narula, the constituency—spanned over three districts of Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal—recorded overall voting of 26 percent.
Of the three districts, Srinagar with 11.46 percent voting tops the list of lowest voter turnout followed by Budgam (39.50%) and Ganderbal (45.61%) respectively.
In Srinagar, none of the eight assembly segments even crossed 20 percent turnout mark with Habba Kadal recording meager 4.3 percent voting.
The second lowest turnout was recorded in Zadibal assembly constituency with 5.59 percent followed by Amira Kadal (7.73%), Khanyar (10.22), Eidgah (10.85%), Batamaloo (12.90%), Sonawar (17.14%) and Hazratbal (17.92%).
In contrary, central Kashmir districts of Budgam and Ganderbal shared 42.55 percent of the total polling recorded with Kangan and Chadoora assembly segments recording over 65 percent voting.
As per the “tentative” data, seven assembly segments of the twin districts recorded voting of 38.67% in Budgam constituency, 35.38% in Chadoora, 13.64% in Beerwah, 28.83% in Khansahib, 65% in Chrar-e-Sharief, 30.5% in Ganderbal while Kangan had the highest voting percentage of 65.5%.
Addressing reporters here, Narula also disclosed that besides three districts, around 2500 migrant voters also exercised their franchise in special polling booths set up in Jammu, Udhampur and New Delhi.
The voter turnout, which is generally taken as an obvious indicator of people’s interest in the electoral process, was about 41 percent in 1996 elections which were held amidst high-intensity militancy and coercion on voters by government forces. As per the data of Election Commission of India (ECI), around 786, 301 people were registered to vote in the ‘96 election, but only 321, 928 came out to cast their vote.
The turnout figure, however, dropped sharply to mere 19 percent in 2004 elections when only 195, 678 of 105, 3734 registered voters participated in the polls. And the figure increased only marginally to about 26 percent in 2009—out of 110, 6729 votes, only 282, 791 were polled.
14 candidates were in fray for the constituency which comprised 1206919 registered electors.
The CEO said that as many as 1546 polling stations were set up across the Parliamentary Constituency and 233 of them were critical while 1021 were declared as hypersensitive.
The CEO also disclosed that web casting was done in as many as 44 booths while 15 digital and 51 video cameras were installed for covering the voting process.
Asked about reason for a lesser turn out, Narula said, “Compared to 2009, 11 lakh more voters were added this time round. There are local issues, many issues, and bigger issues.”
The CEO who was flanked by IGP Kashmir A G Mir also made a categorical statement that there was ‘no’ bogus voting and that “it was free fair and smooth election.”
To question about number of complaints received regarding Model Code of Conduct and subsequent action, the CEO said, “There were only three to four and we have taken the reports from Returning Officers and they have been sent to election commission.”
Meanwhile, IGP Kashmir made an evasive reply to question about the number of youths taken into preventive custody ahead of polls in Srinagar.
“We have already told you that there are two kinds of detention, one preventive and another detention in cases. Later pertains to courts while as far as preventive detention, it lies with executive magistrate.”
Regarding attack to photojournalists in south Kashmir where 28 percent voting was recorded last week, the IGP said one official has been suspended pending inquiry. “The inquiry has not yet been completed,” he added.
He said baring stray incidents of stone-pelting, the polling in Srinagar concluded peacefully.