Over 70 per cent turnout in Kashmir and Jharkhand

While voting in both the states was peaceful, Kashmir recorded the highest turnout in 25 years

Jammu & Kashmir and jharkhand: Braving the winter chill, an astounding 13 lakh people, or 76 percent of the electorate, turned out to vote in the fifth and final round of the Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections on Saturday. Officials termed the turnout “historic and unprecedented” and the highest in the last 25 years.

Voters wait in queues to cast their votes at a polling during the fifth phase of the J&K Assembly elections in Jammu on Saturday. Pic/PTI
Voters wait in queues to cast their votes at a polling during the fifth phase of the J&K Assembly elections in Jammu on Saturday. Pic/PTI

State chief electoral officer Umang Narula said that balloting was “peaceful and incident-free”, and there was no firing from across the border to disrupt the polling process.

Narula said the overall turnout was 66 per cent, while it was 56 per cent in the 2008 elections. Of the 20 contituencies in Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri districts, 11 saw turnouts of 80 per cent or more. Bani constituency in Kathua recorded the highest turnout of 83.2 per cent, while Gandhinagar in Jammu saw the lowest of 60 per cent.

Though polling, which took place in Jammu region, was peaceful, village headman Gulam Ahman Bhat was killed by terrorists in Kashmir’s Baramulla district. He was the third village headman to be killed since the poll process started in October.

“(We are taking) no chances this time. The candidate for whom I voted will bring in change and ensure that youth get jobs, the elderly get good health care and development reaches our village,” said 32-year-old Jugul Kumar in Rajpura village of Raipur Domana constituency.

Sheetal, a 24-year-old who was among the first voters at a polling station in Jammu, said: “I am sure I have voted for the candidate who will work against corruption and give opportunities to youth according to their talent and not family lineage.”

Polling in Jharkhand
Over 25 lakh people — more than 70 per cent of the electorate — exercised their franchise in the fifth and last round of the assembly election in Jharkhand on Saturday, officials said.

Sixteen constituencies voted on Saturday in the final phase. Of the 16 seats, seven were reserved for Scheduled Tribes.

An Election Commission official in Ranchi estimated the voting poll to be around 70.42 per cent with a total of 36,90,069 voters — that included over 19 lakh men and more than 17 lakh women — were eligible to vote at 3,773 polling booths.

The highest polling was recorded in Pakur with 75.5 per cent, followed by Littipara with 75 per cent, while the lowest turnout was recorded in Mahagama at 66.32 per cent, the official said, adding that polling was by and large peaceful. Of the total booths, 833 were declared ‘very sensitive’, while another 1,496 were declared ‘sensitive’.

As many as 22,240 personnel were deployed in the fifth phase.

Chief Minister Hemant Soren of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), the sitting legislator from Dumka, contested from two constituencies —Dumka and Barhet.

In the 2009 election, the JMM had won nine of the 16 seats and the Bharatiya Janata Party two.

Other prominent candidates in the fray in the final phase were Speaker Shashank Shekhar Bhokta, cabinet minister Lobin Hembrom, Sita Soren, Louis Marandi, Hemlal Murmu, Simon Marandi and Pradeep Yadav.

Votes will be counted on December 23.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had urged voters to turn up in record numbers in the fifth and final phase. “I urge all those voting in the fifth and final phase of Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand assembly polls to turn out in record numbers and vote,” Modi tweeted.

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