Srinagar: Ramban district in Jammu and Kashmir has, so far, recorded a huge voter turnout of 69.4% in the ongoing first phase of Panchayat polls in the state. By 12 noon, 35% turnout was reported from Kupwara, 42% from Bandipora and 36.5% from Baramulla. Kathua and Rajouri clocked almost 63% turnout.
Polling is underway in seven districts of Jammu, six districts of the Kashmir Valley and two in Ladakh region. As many as 427 candidates are in the fray, battling for 536 Sarpanch Halqas and 5,951 candidates for 4,048 Panch wards in this phase. The leading regional parties- National Conference (NC) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP)- are boycotting these elections over Article 35A.
“It was a wrong decision by the PDP and NC to boycott the elections and people have come out in large numbers and answered militants and separatists that people want development,” Shabbir Ahmed Khan, former Congress party leader in the state, told ANI.
Despite boycott calls and terror threats, people came out in large numbers to cast their votes. Voters were seen standing in long queues outside the polling booths in terrorist-affected areas of Balhama, Uri, Udhampur, Ganderbal, Manjakote and Panjgrain blocks.
The Panchayat polls will be held in nine phases and the model code of conduct will remain in force till the election process is completed. The casting of votes would take place on 20, 24, 27, 29, December 1, 4, 8 and 11. Counting will take place on the days of polling.