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Jammu/Srinagar: Defying terrorist threats and boycott calls by separatists, 64.5 per cent of electorate voted in the first phase of Panchayat elections in Kashmir while an impressive turnout of 79.5 per cent was recorded in Jammu region on Saturday.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shaleen Kabra said the State recorded 74.1 per cent polling in the first phase of Panchayat elections on Saturday held in 47 blocks, including 16 blocks in Kashmir, 21 in Jammu and 10 in Ladakh region. Kabra said the polling passed off peacefully, except for minor clashes and stone-pelting incidents in Mendhar in Poonch district.
Repolling has been ordered at a polling centre in Atholi in Kishtwar district due to technical snag, the official said.
The turnout in rural areas was significantly higher in Kashmir Valley unlike during the recent urban local bodies elections where barely four per cent of the electorate voted.
Separatists who asked people to boycott the polls had called for a strike on Saturday. Major regional parties — the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party — had decided not to participate in the local bodies polls.
As per officials, total polling percentage in Kashmir division was recorded 64.5 per cent as 1.05 lakh of 1.63 lakh voters exercised their franchise in the Valley on Saturday, they said.
Giving details, they said Srinagar district recorded 21.8 per cent followed by 30.14 per cent in Budgam, 70 per cent in Kupwara, 69.1 per cent in Baramulla, 56.2 per cent in Bandipora, 60 per cent in Leh and 77.7 per cent in Kargil.
The total polling percentage in Jammu division was 79.5 per cent as 2.35 lakh voters out of 2.95 lakh voted, they said.
In Jammu region, polling per cent in Kishtwar was recorded 74.1 per cent, 78.9 per cent in Rajouri, 78.7 per cent in Poonch, 83.6 per cent in Udhampur, 80.8 per cent in Doda, 80 per cent in Kathua and 78.2 per cent in Ramban, they added.
The officials said the total number of electorate in Kashmir was 1,35,774.
There will be eight more phases of Panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir.
The first phase polling was held in 47 blocks, including 16 blocks in Kashmir, 21 in Jammu and 10 in Ladakh region.
The polls are being held after a delay of two years when the State is under the Governor’s rule. The counting of votes will be held on November 27.
A senior BJP leader of Jammu and Kashmir and his brother were shot dead by suspected terrorists in Kishtwar district, officials said.
Ahead of the polls on October 31, BJP state secretary Anil Parihar and his brother Ajeet were shot dead by suspected terrorists while they were returning from their shop in Kishtwar district.
The two were fired upon from close range at a dark, narrow lane leading to their house, officials had said.
Meanwhile, some unknown persons on Saturday set ablaze a Panchayat Ghar in Nutnussa village of North Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
An eyewitness said that a Panchayat building was set on fire in Reshwari Khan Mohalla on Saturday evening by unknown persons.
Firemen rushed to the spot as soon as the news of the incident was received, the official said.
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