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Elections 2019: Civilian Killed, Defunct Voting Machines, Shutdown, Heavy Deployment of Forces Mark Phase I in JK

According to the reports, people at least from 23 polling stations returned without casting their votes due to the ‘non-functioning’ of the voting machines.
Voters waiting for their turn to cast their vote at Handwara

Voters waiting for their turn to cast their vote at Handwara. Image Courtesy : Kamran Yousuf

A 7th class student was killed during clashes between forces and protesters in the first phase of Lok Sabha elections in Mandigam Qaziabad Handwara in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district after polling ended on April 11, 2019.

As per reports, a civilian who was identified as Owais Ahmad Mir, son of Mushtaq Ahmad, received multiple pellet injuries in his head when forces used pellets, tear gas canisters and live ammunition to disperse the protesters.

Immediately, Owais was taken to the Sub District Hospital in Karlgund from where he was referred to SDH Handwara but the doctors declared him brought dead.

All the shops and other business establishments were closed across the Valley during the first phase of Lok Sabha election in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Private as well as government offices were closed in the view of the holiday announced by the government in the poll bound areas as well as due to the shutdown call given by Joint Resistance Leadership.

Under the shadow of heavy deployment of forces and strike, the first phase of Lok Sabha elections was conducted in J&K. Public transport remained shut on most of the streets in the Valley, while the private vehicles were seen plying.

Polling for the first phase of Lok Sabha elections took place in North Kashmir’s Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora districts. In Jammu region, voting took place in Samba, Rajouri, Poonch and Jammu districts.

The timing for casting the ballots was set from 7 am to 6 pm. In the first two hours, long queues of voters were seen at many polling booths in Kupwara district.

In the first of its kind, the electorates in Bandipora have got a candidate from their district, Muhammad Akbar Lone, who is a candidate of National Conference (NC).

Besides Lone, eight other candidates are in fray for the constituency – Farooq Ahmad Mir of Congress, Raja Aijaz Ali of People's Conference, Mohammad Maqbool War of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Jahangir Khan of National People's Party (NPP), Abdul Qayoom Wani of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and independent candidates Javid Ahmad Qureshi, Syed Najeeb Shah Naqvi and Abdul Rashid Sheikh.

The lowest turnout was recorded in Kashmir division at 34.61% with the highest turnout of 51.7% in Kupwara district. 

Zero per cent polling was recorded in five villages in Sopore in Baramulla district including Yamberzal Payeen, Yadipora, Dooru Reshiabad and Jageer. Overall 4,864 out of 1,11,928 votes were cast in rest of the booths in Sopore.

As per the details provided by Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of J&K, Shailendra Kumar, highest turnout in Jammu region was recorded in Samba District at 75.07% followed by 74.50% in Jammu district, while twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri recorded 70.40% and 65.70%, respectively.

The total turnout in Jammu and Kashmir was recorded at 57.31%.

Deserted view of polling booth at Sopore, Baramulla.

Deserted view of polling booth at Sopore, Baramulla. Image courtesy: Kamran Yousuf

According to the reports, people at least from 23 polling stations returned without casting their votes due to the ‘non-functioning’ of the voting machines.

A video went viral on social networking sites, in which people from the Poonch a district of Jammu region were complaining that the fourth button on the EVM, which assigned to Congress, was not functioning. Former chief minister Omar Abdullah shared this video on his Twitter handle.

Another video surfaced on social networking sites in which people can be heard raising anti-BJP slogans in the same Loran belt.

In the video people of Loran alleged that a Border Security Force (BSF) man was tyrannising the voters – mostly Gujjars, asking them why they are not voting for the BJP.

What Kashmiris think about the elections

People in large numbers were seen waiting for their turn to exercise their franchise today. Many of them were first-time voters.

NewsClick talked to many voters regarding their aspirations, reasons for voting etc.

Zeeshan Mohammad Dar* (name changed), a 29-year-old, who exercised the franchise for the first time, hails from a small hamlet of Baramulla. Among the nine members of his family who are eligible for voting, Khalid is first in his family to cast his vote.

“Many politicians in Kashmir are not being able to represent Kashmir well. Kashmir has witnessed massacres, mass rapes, extrajudicial killings and tortures. Politicians use it for their own benefits. We lack a proper representative. I cast my vote to bring in change. We are seeking a leader, not a despot.”

Soon after he came out of the polling booth, he erased the mark from his index finger with turpentine fluid. He had managed to keep turpentine in a vial, and had carried it to the booth in his pocket.

He explained, “There are many people in my locality, who will ask questions to me. Many will say that I have been paid to cast my vote. To avoid this kind of a situation, I have erased the mark.”

Khalid was among the eight voters who cast their votes in the first four hours of the polling.

Also read: Elections 2019: J&K Gears up for General Elections, Assembly Polls Given Wide Berth

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