BUDGAM: Only 109 voters cast their votes out of the 642 registered voters, with women voters outnumbering the males, in the lone ward where voting was held in Budgam district on Monday.
The polling booth in Bazaar Mohalla (Ward 5) in Budgam municipal area was established in the Government Girls’ Higher Secondary School, where not many voters turned up. The multiple-storey building was mostly occupied by policemen and ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) personnel.
Family members of the ward’s two contestants, Mushtaq Ahmad and Nissar Ahmad, arrived early to cast their votes after voting commenced at 7am.
When media persons tried to take their photos, the two contestants asked the government forces to tell them to shut their cameras.
“They are scaring away our voters,” the contestants said, adding that they do not want their pictures shown, as “this can make us vulnerable.” Both Mushtaq and Nissar, who are fighting on Congress and BJP tickets, respectively, claimed to be childhood friends.
A group of women later arrived at the polling station with cautious steps. They opened the gate of the school most quietly. Among them was an elderly lady. “Aes che aamaet vote travne yoer (we have come here to cast our vote),” she replied when this reporter went to talk to her.
Both of the candidates were expecting brisk polling, but at the end of the day only 16.59% turnout was recorded in the station. Of the 109 votes cast, 69 were by females and 40 by males.
Budgam district is divided into six municipalities which are sub-divided into 72 wards. Of these six municipalities, elections in the first phase were held for only three – for Budgam, Chadoora and Khan Sahab.
In rest of the three municipalities of Charar-e-Sharief, Beerwah and Magam, elections would be held on Wednesday.
In 45 wards, candidates have already been declared elected unopposed, and in 26 wards no one has filed nomination for the elections. Municipal elections are being held after more than a decade in J&K.