Hajin: The final phase of District Development Council (DDC) polls held in Jammu and Kashmir reported 50.98% polling on Saturday while the overall turnout in the eight phases across the Union territory was recorded at around 51%. In Kashmir, an overall voting percentage of 35% has been witnessed.
In the eighth phase, the highest turnout was reported at 83.58% in Poonch area while Pulwama continued to witness dismal voting at 8.50% today. The Kashmir region witnessed 29.91% voting with highest polling of 56.56% reported from Bandipora area of North Kashmir.
DDC polling, the first major electoral exercise in J&K after the region was downsized into two Union territories and the abrogation of Article 370 last year on August 5, concluded without any major incident of violence. There were, however, a few small attacks carried out by suspected militants during which, in one of the incidents in Srinagar, a policeman was killed.
The voting was held in phased manner across the UT, which consists of as many as 280 constituencies,with about 140 of them in Kashmir Valley. In the final phase, voting was held in the remaining 28 constituencies -- 13 from the Valley – where a total of 168 candidates are in the fray, according to the State Election Commission (SEC).
In Bandipora’s Hajin area, about 40 km north of Srinagar, voters were seen in long queues to cast their votes. Imtiyaz Parray, a local politician from the Congress party, called the people’s participation “unexpected.” “The people are coming out with enthusiasm,” he said.
Parray is the son of Mohammad Yusuf Parray or better known as Kukka Parray, who was a militant turned renegade turned politician, who was killed in 2003. The Parray’s, who have also fielded a candidate for the local body, hold a sway in the area, a former stronghold of Ikhwans – the government backed militia.
Several voters said they were “fed-up” of politicians and their promises and it was time for a change. “We hope any replacement is better that what we have seen in the past decades. There are no roads, no water and no electricity in our area,” Gulzar Ahmad, a voter, said.
On the peripheries of Hajin, in Baniyar village located on the banks of Wular lake, a non-local candidate Shazia is in the fray. Shazia is from Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-Administered-Kashmir and is married to a local resident here who had crossed over in the 1990s to get the arms training. In 2006, he returned with a wife via Nepal and the couple has been living here since.
The village, from which Shazia is fighting, is a far-flung area with no proper roads or access to drinking water and electricity.
“It is a backward area and I hope to do something for them. It is an opportunity for me to return the love I have received from them since I have been here,” Shazia told NewsClick.
Shazia, who is contesting as an independent candidate, added that being a Pakistani has helped her. “The locals here love people from Pakistan more than others and they came to me and asked me to represent them,” she said.