STATE TIMES NEWS
Srinagar: In the first electoral exercise in Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370, nearly 52 percent turnout was recorded on Saturday in the maiden District Development Council (DDC) polls.The first round of polling on Saturday in the eight-phase DDC election passed off peacefully, except for a minor incident of stone-pelting in Kulgam.State Election Commissioner K K Sharma told reporters that 51.76 percent of the 700,842 eligible voters exercised their franchise during the voting which began at 7.00 AM and ended at 2.00 PM.
Jammu: Enthusiasm was palpable among voters at polling booths here on Saturday as the maiden District Development Council (DDC) polls and panchayat by-elections, the first democratic exercise in Jammu and Kashmir since it was reorganised as a union territory last year, was underway.With the abrogation of Article 370, several communities like West Pakistan refugees, Valmikis and Gurkhas are now eligible to vote in local elections, purchase land and apply for jobs in Jammu and Kashmir, and besides these, they can also contest elections.“We have heard the words equality, justice and liberty, and today we are feeling the true meaning of these words,” Sujati Bharti, a young voter from the West Pakistan refugee community, said standing in a queue outside a polling station at Kot Ghari in Akhnoor block in the outskirts of Jammu.She thanked the Centre for its decision to do away with the special status, saying members of her community were exercising their right to vote in local elections after 70 years.Bharti said she felt liberated as she stood in queue with permanent residents. Justice has finally been granted after an over seven-decade-long struggle, she added. Except for parliamentary elections, these refugees, were, till last year, barred in Jammu and Kashmir from voting in assembly, panchayat and urban local body polls.Bishan Dass (67), another voter from the community, said he did not want to remember the past and instead, pinned hopes on a bright future in which his grandchildren could get jobs without moving outside.“We feel empowered. Earlier nobody used to come to our places to seek votes. Today, every candidate came thrice knocking our doors,” he said, flashing a victory sign.Most of the West Pakistan refugees, after migrating from Pakistan during the Partition, settled in R S Pura, Akhnoor, Samba, Hiranagar and Jammu. Currently, there are over 1.5 lakh refugees in the Union territory.“This election is meant to strengthen grassroots democracy and ensure development at village level. We are voting with focus on the candidates who can provide us better facilities,” 25-year-old Ashok Kumar said.He said people in the area were facing tremendous hardships due to the scarcity of water and underdeveloped roads.“We have to decided to vote for a DDC candidate who can be accessed easily and can address our day-to-day problems,” Kumar said.Chuni Lal, another voter, said they heard all the 10 candidates in the fray during campaigning and accordingly made up his mind.He said he was hopeful that the maiden DDC elections would strengthen the Panchayati Raj system after successful conclusion of the Block Development Council elections, and also paves way for early Assembly elections in the Union Territory.
Reasi in Jammu recorded the highest voter turnout of 74.62 percent while militancy-infested Pulwama witnessed the least voter participation at 6.7 percent.Sharma said the voting was peaceful across the Union territory, barring one incident of stone-pelting that took place in Kulgam district of South Kashmir.In the first phase of the DDC elections, voting was held in 43 constituencies, including 25 in Kashmir, and 1,475 candidates were in the fray, according to officials.
Ganderbal: COVID guidelines were flouted at some polling stations in the valley and excitement overtook precautions as enthusiastic voters jostled with each other to cast their ballot in the first elections in Jammu and Kashmir after its reorganisation last year.Authorities had said necessary COVID measures, including the use of masks and social distancing, have been put in place for ensuring safe polls.From not maintaining adequate distance while standing in queues waiting for their turn to vote, to basking in the lawns, the voters flouted the pandemic guidelines openly with most of them without face-masks or shields.Health department personnel were deployed at the polling booths to check the temperatures of the voters and others using infrared thermometers, but sanitisers and masks at the entry points of most of these places were not available.In Thune area of the district, four booths were clubbed together and housed at a cramped panchayat ghar. While the view outside – of river Sindh and pine-filled and snow-clad mountains in the distance – was beautiful, the sight inside the polling booth was off-putting. Voters lined up, back-to-back, leaving no space in between, through a dark alley to a small room where the voting took place, without face masks – throwing social distancing and other guidelines to the wind.Security personnel occasionally asked the voters present to maintain distance.Similar scenes were witnessed at Government Higher Secondary School in Hariganiwan area – where four polling booths were clubbed, Government Primary School at Haaknaar and Government Middle School at Rayil Gund – which housed seven polling booths. All these polling stations saw rush of people.The pleas of officials and even mediamen present had no impact on the voters and it seemed the pandemic was a thing of the past.At the Rayil Gund booth, while dozens of the voters were waiting in line, without maintaining the social distance, several dozens of others were basking in the lawn and without face masks.Police personnel deployed there blamed the agents of candidates for flouting the guidelines even as they repeatedly asked the people to keep distance and wear face masks.Fayaz Chopan, a local near the booth, said the excitement of voting trumped the need to follow protocols.“We do not have many positive cases here, so people are not taking much precaution. And there is excitement among the voters and they are only concerned about the voting right now,” Chopan said.A stark contrast to other polling stations was Government Higher Secondary School at Gund where the COVID protocols very followed visibly.At the entry point of the polling station – where six booths were clubbed – an official was sprinkling sanitiser on the hands of everyone who entered inside, while also providing the face masks.The voters were lined up keeping some distance in between and everyone wore masks. Many polling personnel even wore hand gloves.An official said it was necessary to follow the protocols for everyone’s safety and the polling staff had stressed on the need to maintain social distance and the use of face masks.
It is the first election since the Centre scrapped Article 370 that gave special status to J-K in August last year and bifurcated the state into UTs.Polling has been by-and-large peaceful in 43 constituencies of DDC that went to polls in which 3,62,766 voters including 1,93,375 males and 1,69,391 females out of 7,00,842 voters, voted to choose their representatives in their respective councils, the SEC maintained.The SEC further informed that the Reasi District recorded the highest polling at 74.62 per cent followed by Rajouri District at 70.52 per cent and Poonch with 68.69 per cent polling. In Kashmir Division, Budgam district recorded highest polling at 56.96 per cent with followed by Kupwara District at 50.74per cent and Ganderbal with around 48.62 per cent polling.Giving the district wise details about the DDC, the SEC informed that in Kashmir Division, the polling percentage recorded in Bandipora was 43.57 per cent, Baramulla 32.51 per cent, Srinagar 33.76 per cent, Pulwama 6.70 per cent, Shopian 42.58 per cent, Kulgam 34.35 per cent, Anantnag 43.32 per cent voters casted their votes.Similarly, in Jammu division Kishtwar has voting percentage of 55.16 per cent, Doda 64.49 per cent, Ramban 64.21 per cent, Udhampur 57.13 per cent, Kathua 62.82 per cent, Samba 68.61 per cent and Jammu 61.49 per cent people exercise their right to franchise during first phase of elections.The SEC further said that large numbers of people have come out to cast their votes during first phase of District Development Council Elections 2020 and Panch/Sarpanch By-polls. Long queues could be seen despite of severe cold conditions in Kashmir Division and hilly areas of Jammu Division, he added.
The SEC said that the DDC elections will play a decisive role towards development at a grass root level. He informed that the polling went peaceful and smooth across the region. He appreciated every stakeholder for their tireless efforts for the successful conduct of the polling process. Adequate security personals were deployed at all polling stations to ensure the smooth conduct of the polls, he said.The SEC further informed that arrangements regarding second phase of elections have been put in place which is going to be held in 43 constituencies including 25 in Kashmir division and 18 in Jammu division.
JAMMU: The State Election Commission (SEC) in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday imposed restrictions on conduct of exit polls till the last of the eight-phase District Development Council (DDC) election is completed.An order to this effect was issued by State Election Commissioner K K Sharma here, an official spokesman said.The DDC elections along with panchayat bypolls commenced in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday.“In exercise of powers conferred under Section 36 of the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, the Election Authority (State Election Commission) hereby prohibits the conduct of any exit poll and publishing or publicising/displaying the result of exit poll by means of the print or electronic media or in any other manner in the ongoing DDC elections, till the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in the last phase of these elections – 2:00 PM on December 19, Sharma said in his order.
Download 10Cric Casino app, and enjoy Indias most popular casino games, directly on your mobile!
Gamble with real money online! Play Indias favourite casino games at 7Jackpots.com, Indias most trusted online casino site.
Rajinikanth to launch party in Jan, outfit to fight 2021 polls
Prabhas to star in ‘KGF’ director Prashanth Neel’s next, ‘Salaar’
UK first country to approve Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine, rollout in days
Daughter of soil ‘Shikara’ girl Sadia gets best debutant actress award
Arshad Warsi joins Akshay Kumar for ‘Bachchan Pandey’
© 2020 State Times Daily Newspaper