Voting picks up in J&K



Women queue-up outside a polling booth  to cast their votes during the first phase of Jammu and Kashmir polls in Ladakh district of the state.
Women queue-up outside a polling booth to cast their votes during the first phase of Jammu and Kashmir polls in Ladakh district of the state.

The turnout picked up in the second phase of Jammu and Kashmir polls as more and more men and women queued up at polling stations to cast their votes.

People waited in long, disciplined queues to cast their franchise. Many of them said they were voting for change.

Men and women lined up in all the five polling stations in Handwara town. Many of the voters said they were voting for change that would bring employment, better healthcare facilities, roads, and schools.

“I have come out to vote for change. I have no reservations in admitting that remaining out from voting in the past has compounded our day-to-day problems,” said Abdul Majeed, 45, who voted at the girls’ higher secondary school polling station in the town.

“We are voting for a better representative for a better tomorrow,” he said.

In the neighbouring Langate constituency also, voters queued up in Kargama, Langate and other polling stations. Most of the voters said they want change for development and a better tomorrow.

“Nobody did anything for us in the past. We have decided to change the beneficiaries of our democratic rights. Let us see what happens,” said Bashir Ahmad, 48, at Kargana polling station.

“The urge to bring in change for the better is making me stand in this long queue,” he said.

The highest voter turnout – 19.95 percent – in the first two hours was recorded in Reasi constituency, while the lowest of around 2 percent was witnessed in Homeshallibugh. An average of 15 percent voting was seen across the 18 constituencies.

Voters in Udhampur, Chenani, Ramnagar and Reasi constituencies, as well as in Gulabgarh, Gool Arnas, Mendhar and Poonch Havelli constituencies of the Jammu region waited patiently for their turn to vote.

In the Kashmir Valley, the turnout was low in the initial hour due to the winter cold, but it gained momentum as the day progressed.

Voters could not come out in large numbers in south Kashmir’s Devsar, Homeshallibugh, Noorabad and Kulgam constituencies initially. In the north Kashmir Kupwara district also where polling has begun for five constituencies, the voter turnout was low in the morning.

But polling improved later on.

Over 1.5 million voters will get to decide the political fate of 175 candidates in the fray. Polling started at 8 a.m. and will end at 4 p.m.

Balloting began Tuesday in 18 assembly constituencies in the second of the five-phase elections in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.

The Election Commission has set up 2,181 polling stations for this phase.

Nine of the constituencies are in Jammu region — three each in Udhampur, Reasi and Poonch districts, while the remaining nine are in the valley — four in Kulgam district and five in Kupwara district.

The first phase of polling Nov 25 saw 70 voter turnout.