Nearly 80 per cent of over 1.26 lakh voters exercised their franchise in Jammu while there was a low voter turnout yet again in Kashmir with 3.4 per cent of 2.20 lakh electorate casting their votes Wednesday in the second phase of municipal polls in the state, officials said.
The second phase witnessed overall voter turnout of 31.3 percent out of total electorate of 3.47 lakh in the state, they said.
The low voter turnout in Kashmir was in line with a meagre 8.3 per cent turnout in the valley during the first phase of polling, when the Jammu and Ladakh divisions had witnessed over 65 per cent of voting, they said.
Nineteen wards of Srinagar Municipal Corporation, having an electorate of 1.78 lakh, witnessed a turnout of just 2.3 per cent, officials said.
Bandipora district, however, witnessed brisk polling as 34.2 per cent of the 8,300 voters exercised their franchise, the officials said.
They said Sopore in north Kashmir and Anantnag in south Kashmir registered turnouts of 6.1 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively.
The ongoing municipal polls in Jammu and Kashmir is being held amid the looming threat of militant violence and boycott by two key political parties – the PDP and NC.
Kashmir witnessed low voter turnout despite election authorities having advanced the starting time of polling for the second phase by an hour to 6 am, half an hour before the day break.
The advancement of the time for start of the voting has led to fears among some political parties that it may be meant to manipulate the election process.
Polling was held amidst stringent security measures at 544 polling stations across the state and ended at 4 pm.
Over 1,000 candidates – 881 in Jammu division and 148 in Kashmir division – are in the fray for 263 municipal wards including 49 in Kashmir and 214 in Jammu.
As many as 65 candidates with 61 of them from Kashmir valley have already won the polls uncontested while in 56 wards all in the valley – no nomination was filed, due to which no voting took place there, they said.
Massive security arrangements were put in place for smooth conduct of the polls, the officials said, adding no untoward incident was reported during the polling.
Municipal elections, covering 79 local urban bodies with an electorate of about 17 lakh, are being held in four phases.
A total of 3,372 nominations have been filed for 1145 wards. The next phases are scheduled to take place on October 13 and 16.
National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and CPI(M) have boycotted the polls due to the legal challenge to Article 35A of the Constitution in the Supreme Court.
The government has declared holiday on the days of voting in the municipal areas going to polls so as to enable voters to cast their vote.