LC polls:Only 537 panchayat members did not exercise franchise

Kashmir polls
Over 1,200 panchayat members in Kashmir had announced their resignations through paid advertisements in the wake of militant threats early this year but the high turnout in the Legislative Council polls proved that all of them were not serious about it.

According to the official data, the overall voting percentage for the two Legislative Council seats of Kashmir division was 97 per cent of the 17,912 eligible voters.

It shows that only 537 panchayat members had not cast their votes in the polling that took place yesterday.

As many as 37 candidates were in the fray for the four seats of the Legislative Council, reserved under Panchayat quota, for which polling was held after a gap of four decades.

Militants had carried out several attacks on panchayat members, who were elected in the landmark elections last year, killing three of them and injuring nearly 10 others.

The ultras had issued posters, asking the Panchayat members to resign from their posts or face the consequences.

A panchayat member was shot dead in February in Kulgam district while two more were killed by the militants in September in Baramulla district.

The killings led to a spree of resignations by the panchayat members who made the announcements through paid advertisements in local newspapers.

Hardline Hurriyat Conference headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Hizbul Mujahideen supremo Syed Salahuddin had asked the panchayat members to boycott the polls.

"The polling was conducted in a free and fair manner and no untoward incident was reported from anywhere," Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir Asgar, Hassan Samoon, who is the Returning Officer for the two seats of Kashmir division, said.

In Kashmir Division, Srinagar district recorded the highest poll percentage of 100 per cent but, surprisingly, Kargil district recorded the lowest turnout of just over 65 per cent.

Officials attributed low voter turnout to chilly weather and ongoing Muhurram mourning in the predominantly Shia district of the state.

Pulwama in south Kashmir and Baramulla in the north of the Valley where the militants had issued the threatening posters also recorded comparatively lower turnouts of 86.75 per cent and 88.28 per cent, respectively.

Budgam (91.56 per cent) Anantnag (95.87 per cent), Kupwara (90.25 per cent), Kulgam (92.84 per cent), Shopian (92.68 per cent), Bandipora (97.80 per cent), Ganderbal (97.80 per cent) and Leh (93.28 per cent) recorded high voter turnout. The electronic voting machines have been stored in the strong room established at SKICC, where counting of votes will take place on Thursday.

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