Intro: Defying bycott call by the separatists, for the first time, the voter turnout in five assembly constituencies of Kashmir Valley is in power with the Jammu division.
Amidst heavy security deployment, the first phase of voting began in the early hours in Jammu and Kashmir on November 25. Had it been an ordinary day, the chilling cold of Kashmir and Ladakh, would have ideally kept people inside their homes. But on the day such as this, people were lined up in long queues to participate in the festival of democracy- J&K completed its first phase (out of five) in the Assembly elections. Unlike other states of India where elections are held after every five years, assembly of Jammu Kashmir has tenure of six years, one of the outcomes of Article 370 in the state.
“Polling has gone off absolutely peaceful without any incident. It was 100% flawless polls and there was not a single incident which vitiates poll process,” Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi told reporters in Delhi. The kind of voters’ turnout (71.28%) that Jammu-Kashmir has witnessed on November 25, is termed as huge in any democracy of the world and before any say on high turnout, let us give you basic information related to Assembly elections of Jammu-Kashmir.
Total number of Legislative Assembly seats in Jammu and Kashmir are 111, out of which 24 are kept empty (The seat are not contested happen) as these seats are reserved for Pakistan Occupied Jammu-Kashmir (PoJK), strategically a very important region of India which is under illegal/forced occupation of Pakistan.
The present assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir are being held for the 87 remaining Assembly constituencies. Out of these 87constituencies, elections on fifteen constituencies of seven districts of J&K were held on November 25. The five districts where the elections were held are Bandipora (3 constituencies) and Ganderbal (2 constituencies) from Kashmir Valley region, Leh (2 constituencies) and Kargil (2 constituencies) from Ladakh region, and Kishtwar (2 constituencies), Doda (2 constituencies) and Ramban (2 constituencies) form the Jammu region. These elections did not witness any unpleasant incident and a record turnout of 71.28% was recorded. Vote percentage for the same constituencies in 2008 was recorded at 61.23%. Significantly, the turnout in 15 Assembly constituencies recorded about 10 per cent increase in voting this time as compared to 2008 Assembly elections and 20 per cent as compared to April-May 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Statistics from Kashmir Valley
Defying the separatist poll boycott call and braving the winter chill, voters turned out in large numbers at polling stations in five Assembly constituencies of Kashmir valley recording highest percentage of voter turnout for the first time since outbreak of armed militancy in 1989.Three constituencies of Bandipora district, namely, Gurez, Bandipora and Sonawari recorded a turnout of 77.1, 70 and 80.1 per cent respectively.
The voting percent in Kangan and Ganderbal seats of Ganderbal district was 76.83 and 59 respectively. It’s clear that, in the complete first phase, Sonawari, a constituency from Valley, recorded highest voting percentage of 80.1.
Statistics from Jammu region
In six seats of Jammu division, two constituencies in Doda district, namely, Doda and Bhaderwah recorded a turnout of 79.6% and 70.1 per cent respectively while it was 77.09 and 74.32 percent for the two seats, Kishtwar and Inderwal, of Kishtwar district respectively. Ramban and Banihal constituencies of Ramban districts recorded a turnout of 68.78 and 72.32 percent.
Statistics from Ladakh region
Leh district Nubra saw 75.6 percent polling and Leh 67. In Kargil district and Zanskar constituency turnout was at 71.07 per cent, and 71.44 per cent people voted in Kargil constituency.
Arvind (The writer is researcher at J&K Study Centre)