Anantnag: Poll-bound areas of the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir witnessed 57.22% voting in the seventh phase of the District Development Council (DDC) polls held in the region here on Wednesday. While Jammu recorded 71.93% voting, the Kashmir Valley witnessed a 39.52% voter turnout today.
The highest polling percentage was reported in Poonch, which recored 80.12% voting. The lowest was reported in south Kashmir’s Shopian district, at 6.55%. Jammu, the winter capital, witnessed 68.66% polling.
In Kashmir Valley, the highest polling percentage was reported from north Kashmir’s Bandipora, which recorded a 70.47% voter turnout in what is the penultimate phase of the DDC polls. The areas of Baramulla and Kupwara reported 59.53% and 59.23% polling respectively while volatile areas of south Kashmir like Kulgam and Pulwama reported 17.98% and 11.06% polling respectively.
The DDC election is the first major electoral exercise in the region since the abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories on August 5, 2019. Polling is being conducted in eight phases since November 28. The final phase will be held across the region on December 19, with the results to be declared on December 22.
In the poll-bound areas of south Kashmir’s Anantnag, which witnessed 22.46% polling on Wednesday, voters told NewsClick that their participation in the process was motivated by the lack of development in the area.
“It is important to chose a representative who can facilitate a solution for basic issues we have like roads and water supply,” a voter from Naibasti locality told NewsClick.
The voters added that locals are apprehensive about the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its policies, which they referred to as “unpopular”. The voters, however, said they also did not “expect” much from the alliance of regional mainstream political parties, called the People’s Alliance of Gupkar Declaration (PAGD). The parties are contesting the polls against the BJP and its allies with a seat-sharing arrangement in place.
Polling was held in as many as 31 constituencies, including 13 seats from Kashmir and 18 from Jammu division. In Kashmir Valley, 148 candidates were contesting in the seventh phase, including 34 female candidates, according to the State Election Commission (SEC).
“Even if the issues during the polls are around development, but, the issue of Article 370 and the larger Kashmir problem is also important and we want the restoration of our rights, including 370,” said Abdul Majid, another local from the area.
Voters in the town of Anantnag, which is a stronghold of Congress party, said there is fear in the region. “BJP should be defeated in these elections as it will send a message that not everyone is with what they are doing in Kashmir, including the abrogation of 370. But many are not speaking out due to lot of repression,” a local from Anantnag said.
While polling was being held in the south Kashmir district, all shops and business establishments in the area, especially along the Khanabal-Pahalgam road, a commercial hub, were closed. According to locals, the shutdown was enforced by police, who had directed them to do so in the wake of the polling exercise.