The north Kashmir parliamentary seat, which went to polling on Thursday, has set a trend for low turnout in other two seats—Srinagar and Anantnag (Islamabad). Given the impressive election rallies by contesting candidates and parties, massive participation of voters was deemed in the constituency. However, at the end of the day almost 66% voters chose to stay away from polling. According to Election officials 34 percent voters made to polling booths to cast their votes. In 2014 elections, around 40 percent polling was witnessed in the constituency.
The constituency consists of three districts—Baramullah, Kupwara and Bandipora. While Baramullah polled 24 percent, Bandipora recorded 31 percent and Kupwara the highest percentage of around 52 percent. In 2014 elections Kupwara had polled 63 percent of total votes. The Sopore assembly constituency, the home of Syed Ali Geelani, recorded less than four percent voting.
The participating candidates and parties were shocked by the low participation of voters as the constituency had witnessed brisk campaigning. “We had expected over 60 percent polling”, said a close aide of one of the candidates. “It is quite against our expectations”, he added.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) said that 34.6 percent voters cast their votes in the daylong exercise.
Those who are familiar with pattern of voting in Kashmir observe that the low participation in north Kashmir would have a serious impact on Srinagar and Anantnag seats as well. Srinagar, where National Conference patriarch and former chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah, seeks re-election, is scheduled for polling on April 18. Anantnag seat would go for polling in three phases, starting from April 23. Former chief minister Mahbooba Mufti is seeking election from the seat with a stiff opposition from the Congress and the National Conference.
The voting in North Kashmir parliamentary seat ended at a familiar note. A 13 year old boy Owais Mir was killed in the firing by government forces at Qazigund in Langate are of Handwara.
Owaise was hit when government forces fired upon during stone pelting by a group of local youth when the former were leaving the area after polling was over.
Owaise was hit in the head. He was rushed to local Kralgund health center from where doctors referred him to Handwara in critical condition.
Owais was declared brought dead by doctors in Handwara Hospital, sources said.
Another youth whose identity was not immediately known also received serious injuries during the incident.