A security personnel stands guard as people queue to cast vote during the second phase of general elections, at a polling station in Fakir Gujri on the out skirts of Srinagar | PTI
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Srinagar: Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir are “very satisfied” that elections have been held, that too without any major incident, in the Srinagar Parliamentary constituency despite the dismal voter turnout.

The much-awaited second phase of the Lok Sabha polls in J&K saw voting at Udhampur and Srinagar on 18 April. The total voter turnout on the day was 45.7 per cent but the figure was largely due to the 70 per cent voting at the Udhampur Parliamentary constituency in the Jammu division.

Srinagar, meanwhile, witnessed a paltry 14.1 per cent voting.

“It was not an overwhelming voter turnout but we are very satisfied for two reasons,” J&K chief election officer (CEO) Shailendra Kumar told ThePrint. “One, the poll numbers today are double of what they were in 2017 (by-election for Srinagar). The second thing is that we have had peaceful elections and that is very satisfying. I had hoped that the voter turnout would be slightly higher but it’s ok,” he said.

“I have spent almost 7-8 years in the Valley. In the given scenario, if it (elections) is conducted peacefully in Kashmir and if it is over then God is kind,” Kumar said, adding that the state election body and the security forces had put in a great effort in holding the elections.

This time around, violence was reported at many places but the situation remained largely peaceful.

“During the election process, security forces came under severe stone pelting from miscreants who had congregated at various places,” a state government statement read. “However, security forces while dealing with such hostile stone pelting mobs exercised utmost restraint.”


Also readThis Kashmir district used to defy calls for poll boycott, but now it couldn’t care less


Low turnout an issue

While the state government might feel satisfied for holding the elections, the low voter turnout might be a long term problem with the J&K assembly elections approaching soon.

So far, elections have been held in four of the six Lok Sabha seats in the state — Baramulla and Jammu voted in the first phase on 11 April. The voter turnout at Jammu was 72.16 per cent whereas it was 34.61 per cent in Baramulla. Elections are yet to be held in Anantnag, which votes in three phases, and the Ladakh Lok Sabha constituency.

Kumar too admitted that the voting percentages in the three districts — Srinagar, Ganderbal and Budgam — which make up the Srinagar parliamentary constituency, were lower than what was expected.

Srinagar district recorded a voting percentage of 7.69 per cent, Ganderbal saw 16.75 per cent while in Budgam, the figure was 21.6 per cent.

The figure, however, is an improvement from the Srinagar Lok Sabha by-poll in 2017 when things went south from the morning of the voting day, 9 April, as locals in Budgam district clashed with security forces posted at polling booths. The day witnessed massive clashes all over Srinagar, resulting in the death of eight civilians. The voting percentage was a mere 7 per cent.


Also read: ‘Elections are haram’: Kashmiri militant groups ask voters to stay away from Lok Sabha polls


 

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  1. It is good to see that people of Kashmir are allowed to elect their representatives like every other Indian Citizen.
    It is now up to the people to choose their representatives. If they decide to stay at home and not vote; what they are doing is leaving the selection of their representative to the people who vote. Maybe they are confident in the people who vote for them or maybe they dont like the people who are contesting to be their representative. Either way they are free to do what they want. Let the government know who they want as their representative or that “NOTA”; they dont like any of the candidates. Now the Govt. cant do anything about NOTA. That is up to the people to find their representative.

    Either way; if I was a separatist, I would either stand for an election and ask everyone to vote for me and get a near 1005 participant from my supporters or I would ask all my supporters to go vote and hit that NOTA button; which gives a clear signal that people do not want those standing to be their representatives. The a good govt. can talk to the people and find why NOTA in huge numbers.

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