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LC polls under Panchayat quota: 90 pc peaceful polling in J&K: CEO
`5-8 complaints of MCC violation’ * Stray incidents of protests vitiate brisk polling
KT NEWS SERVICE
JAMMU/SRINAGAR, Dec 3: Amid 5-8 complaints of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) violation and stray incidents of protests on varied accounts including the one by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over “dissatisfied” polling arrangements in R S Pura, ninety percent “incident free” polling was registered across the state for election to four seats of Legislative Council under Panchayat quota on Monday.

In Kashmir division, MLA Shopian Abdul Razak Zawoora of PDP lodged a complaint against the Deputy Commissioner Shopian of misbehaving with him during his visit to a polling booth at Shadimarg in the South Kashmir district.

Nevertheless, exuberance marked the election scene across the state as the village heads including women braved the chill and even defied boycott calls from the militant organizations and the separatists to reach the polling booths, in many cases covering more than 35-40 kilometers of distance. Severe morning cold led to a slow start to polling for the two seats in the Kashmir Valley, while voting was quite brisk across the Jammu region.

Interestingly, the hilly districts mainly in Jammu region, with majority of areas devoid of decent road network and transport facilities, scored over the urban districts in polling percentage notwithstanding the complaints of inconvenience on account of “far-off polling booths” set up in block headquarters.

However, on the whole, according to Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Umang Narula, the polling process remained “peaceful with no untoward incident reported from anywhere in the state.”

CEO even sought to downplay the complaints of MCC violation stating that they were not of serious nature. He however informed that one complaint was already forwarded to the Election Commission of India.

Addressing a press conference in Jammu this evening, Narula said the entire polling process remained incident free in all the 149 booths across the state. He said polling material in respect of some snow bound areas like Kishtwar, Gurez, Machail, Zanaskar etc was airlifted. He said counting for the two seats of Kashmir would be held at SKICC, Srinagar while for the two seats of Jammu would be held at Polytechnic College, Jammu and at respective district headquarters of Leh and Kargil.

The CEO said the Election Commission had appointed two observers and some micro-observers to monitor the election process. He said 5-8 complaints of violation of Model Code of Conduct were received by the Commission, which were being examined.

In Srinagar, IGP Kashmir S M Sahai told the media persons that polling across the valley was conducted in a peaceful manner and without any untoward incidents. “There were no clashes between contesting parties or otherwise. We were monitoring the situation through the day. No untoward incidents were reported,” Sahai was quoted by a local Kashmir based agency KNS.

The IGP said that he along with other senior police officials visited some sensitive areas like Sopore, Pattan etc to personally monitor the situation and ensure a peaceful polling day.

The polls for the reserved seats were held over three decades as the Panchayat elections in the state were held last year after a gap over three decades.

National Conference and Congress — partners in the ruling coalition — are contesting the elections jointly and have fielded two candidates each for the four seats. The opposition parties, including PDP and Panthers Party, have fielded candidates on all four seats while the Bharatiya Janata Party is contesting on three seats —— two from Jammu region and one from Kashmir Valley. The Bahujan Samaj Party has also fielded three candidates. SP has boycotted the elections.

As many as 15,628 Panchayat members were to elect two MLCs in Jammu division from a total of 21 candidates, while 17,912 members were to cast their votes to elect two members from the 16 candidates in fray from Kashmir division.

Tight security arrangements were put in place with para-military and state police personnel deployed in sensitive areas to deal with any untoward incident. On the whole, 27 companies of CRPF and 40 complanies of police and armed police were deployed for security and monitoring during voting.

Counting of votes will take place on December 6 and the EVMs will be shifted from all district headquarters to Jammu and Srinagar on December 4 and 5.

JAMMU DIVISION: Jammu division though on the whole registered brisk polling amid exuberant ambience yet the process was punctuated by stray incidents of protests and complaints of violation of Model Code of Conduct, mainly by the political parties.

Interestingly, the hilly districts of the region, with majority of areas devoid of decent road network and transport facilities, scored over the urban districts in polling percentage notwithstanding the complaints of inconvenience on account of “far-off polling booths” set up in block headquarters.

It was the stronghold of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) R S Pura sector, which witnessed a protest by the party activists against “inadequate arrangements for polling.” The party activists alleged that proper arrangement of light was not made inside the polling booth. The protest attracted the media persons who were devoid of any “action scene” so far.

However the media persons were initially not allowed to enter the polling booth.

The reporters from both print and electronic media - holding valid election duty cards - were barred from entering the booth by the security staff reportedly on the direction of SDPO.

The scribes later called up the Jammu Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dilbagh Singh to register their protest. It was only after the IGP's intervention that media was allowed inside the polling hall after standing outside for over an hour, the media persons later alleged.

Agency reports quoted Senior Superintendent of Police VS Sambyal that it was wrong to stop the media persons, holding election duty cards, from going inside the polling station.

Yet another small protest was witnessed in Kathua district where the activists from different political parties joined the cause opposing the entry of Minister of Industries Surjeet Singh Salathia into the premises of polling booth of Hiranagar block.

In Samba block, the village heads had to poll votes using handy gas inside the polling booths in the absence of proper light arrangements. The handy gas cylinders were arranged after the instruction of Minister for Industries Surjit Singh Slathia, who had gone there to visit polling arrangements.

Nevertheless, the village heads enthusiastically participated in the polling process.

“We have voted for democracy and strengthening of the Panchayati Raj in J&K. It was also a vote against threats issued by the militants from across the border,” remarked Anil Sharma general secretary All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference (AJKPC).

AJKPC had earlier given a boycott call for the polls on the pretext of non-implementation of 73rd and 74th amendments of the Constitution yet later decided to take part in the elections.

POLLING TRENDS: As per official reports a turn-out of over 92 percent was recorded in the Jammu region till 4 PM, with the militancy-infested areas registering 96 percent voting.

Over 98 percent peaceful polling was registered in Rajouri where a total of 18 polling booths for 9 blocks were constituted with adequate security measures. A total of 2258 voters exercised their right to vote.

As per official sources, 96.39 percent voting in J1 and 96.78 percent voting in J2 election was registered in Rajouri. The break up included 98.66 percent in Manjakot, 94.92 percent for J1 and 95.73 percent for J2 in block Budhal, 96.88 percent for J1 and 96.88 percent for J2 in Darhal block, 96.85 percent for J1 and 96.85 percent for J2 in block Dungi. Block Sunderbani registered 97.16 percent polling for J1 and 96.68 percent for J2, in block Nowshera 94.95 percent for J1 and 94.58 percent for J2, in block Kalakote 94.96 percent for J1 and 95.38 percent for J2 and in block Thanamandi 94.05 polling was registered for J1 and 94.05 for J2.

In a stray incident, heated exchange of words took place among the Sarpanches and Panches in block Rajouri.

Akhnoor and Khour blocks registered 98 percent polling. In Akhnoor block, 398 votes were polled out of 408 while in Khour block, 278 votes were polled out of 282 votes.

Doda district registered 92 percent voting while Reasi district registered 95.37 percent polling for J1 and 95.63 percent for J2 election.

In Reasi, out of 1145 total voters, 1092 voters (756 males, 336 females) cast their votes for J-1 and for J-2, 1095 (760 males, 335 females) voters cast their votes.

Kathua district recorded 90 percent polling while Samba district recorded 98.7 percent polling.

In Kathua district, Basohli, Kathua, Billawar, Lohai Malhar, Bani, Barnoti and Hiranagar blocked registered 92, 96, 96, 85, 84, 96, 98 percent polling for J-1 and 76, 92, 96, 85, 84, 96 AND 98 percent polling for J-2 respectively.

KASHMIR DIVISION:

MLA Shopian Abdul Razak Zawoora of the PDP accused the Deputy Commissioner Shopian of misbehaving with him during his visit to a polling booth at Shadimarg in the South Kashmir district. “The Deputy Commissioner along with BDOs and other officers misbehaved with me and pushed me out of the polling station while he was interacting with NC workers who were serving them tea and snacks,” Zawoora was quoted by a local Kashmir based news agency KNS. He said that he had brought the matter to the notice of Divisional Commissioner Kashmir.

The agency report said Divisional Commissioner, Asghar Samoon confirmed that he had received a complaint from the MLA. “If such an incident has occurred, it is unfortunate. I will raise the issue with the Chief Minister and the Election Commissioner,” Samoon was quoted by agency.

POLLING TRENDS: According to official sources, 100 percent voting was observed in Srinagar district, 94 percent in Budgam, 98 percent in Ganderbal, 96 percent in Bandipora, 91 percent in Baramulla, 94 percent in Kupwara, 87 percent in Pulwama, 93 percent in Shopian, 92 percent in Anantnag, 87 percent in Kulgam, 86 percent in Leh and 57 percent in Kargil districts. 84 percent voting was reported from Sopore and 94 percent in Handwara.

Meanwhile, Election Observer for the conduct of Legislative Council Elections for the two seats from Panchayat quota, Shantmanu today visited various polling booths in Kashmir division, to ensure smooth and fair elections.

Among other polling stations, the Observer visited Polling stations at B K Pora, Narbal in Budgam district, Pampore in Pulwama district, Pattan and Singhpora in Baramulla district besides Wakoora in Ganderbal and Sumbal in Bandipora districts.

Polling started at 9 AM at various polling stations across the valley for the elections today. The turnout of Panches and Sarpanches was low in the beginning because of the cold, but it picked up later in the day. The voting process ended at 5 PM.

The turnout of Panches and Sarpanches during these polls was being keenly watched in the valley, because of the threats the elected local body leaders received from separatists, and the militant bodies asking them to resign from their posts as representatives.
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News Updated at : Tuesday, December 4, 2012
 
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LC polls under Panchayat quota: 90 pc peaceful polling in J&K: CEO
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