A little over 30 percent voter turnout was recorded in the fifth phase of panchayat polls in Kashmir Valley on Thursday, even as the overall polling percentage in the state stood at 71.1, officials said.From less than 1 percent polling in southern Kashmir’s Pulwama district to 42.5 percent in northern Kashmir’s Kupwara district, the electoral exercise evoked a mixed response in the Valley.
According to figures released by state’s chief electoral officer, 0.5 percent electorate exercised their franchise in Pulwama district, which has witnessed a spurt in local youth joining militancy and street protests since 2016. In the previous phase, there was a similar response to the electoral exercise in the district, with its polling areas recording a dismal 0.6 percent turnout.
In neighbouring Anantnag district, 10.1 percent voter turnout was recorded in the fifth phase.
The response to the recently-held urban local body elections—and to the ongoing rural body elections—in southern Shopian, Pulwama, Kulgam and Anantnag districts indicates that space for electoral politics is shrinking following the 2016 uprising triggered by the killing of popular Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani that year.
During the five-month-long uprising that followed Wani’s death, more than 50 civilians were killed in action by forces in southern Kashmir areas.In 2017, the Election Commission of India failed to hold by-polls for southern Kashmir’s parliamentary segment, citing “law and order disturbances and increase in militancy”.
According to CEO’s figures, 42.5 percent polling was recorded in Kupwara Thursday, 34.6 percent in Bandipora, 32.9 percent in Baramulla, 20.3 percent in Ganderbal and 34.8 percent in Budgam.The Jammu region saw overall voter turnout of 85.2%, the figures suggest.
According to figures, Doda recorded 83.3 percent polling, Ramban 85.2 percent, Udhampur 82 percent, Reasi 89.1 percent, Jammu 88.9 percent, Rajouri 82.8 percent and Poonch 84.5 percent.