BUDGAM: The trend of low voter turnout continued in Budgam district on Saturday, with 8.9 percent of polling recorded overall in Charar-e-Sharief and Nagam panchayat blocks.
Most people preferred to stay away from polling stations. For instance, in Charar-e-Sharief-A (Ward 1), till 1pm no voter had turned up. Out of 117 total registered voters in this ward, only one eventually turned up to cast his vote. The rest 116 voters preferred boycott over participation.
Similarly, in Loolipora ward in Nagam block, no one was seen at the polling station during the day. A few polling staff sat idle inside the booth that was guarded by scores of paramilitary troops and policemen.
In this ward, out of the total 1,220 registered voters, only 8 cast their vote. Locals said these eight voters were family members of the contestants.
The polling percentage in this ward was in fractions, at 0.66.
People living close to the polling stations said they had no idea if there was anyone contesting the election from their ward.
A resident of Charar-e-Sharief, who identified himself as Basharat, said there were multiple reasons why people had shown disinterest in the panchayat elections. The first reason he cited was the bloodbath in 2016, which he said was still alive in the memories of people.
“Second,” he said, “is that these elections going on in Kashmir are nothing but a sham. There is no legitimate reason to take part in these polls at a time when atrocities by government forces continue.”
A third reason is the boycott by the regional parties NC and PDP, he said. “So their workers, too, have stayed away,” he said.
Charar-e-Sharief block is divided into seven panchayat halqas and 49 Panch wards. Six Sarpanch candidates have won unopposed and only for one Sarpanch seat the election was held on Saturday.
Of the 49 Panch constituencies, 30 have been won uncontested, 13 lie vacant, and 6 went to polls on Saturday.
In Nagam block, the total panchayat halqas are 18. Out of these, elections were held in only three. Nine Sarpanch seats have been won unopposed and six have been left vacant.
The Panch wards in Nagam block number 132. Of these, 58 have been won uncontested, 60 are vacant, and 8 have more than one candidate contesting the election.