Deserted Roads, Near-empty Booths Mark Polling In Militancy-Infested Shopian, Pulwama
Till 2.00 PM, only 1.8% of the 5.22 lakh electorate cast their votes in the six Assembly segments across the two districts
Shopian / Pulwama: Deserted roads leading to polling stations with no or a few voters and the overbearing presence of security forces were dominant scenes on Monday in militancy-infested Pulwama and Shopian districts of Jammu and Kashmir where polling is underway for the Anantnag parliamentary constituency.
Officials at several polling stations were idling around, while security forces maintained a vigil against possible disruption by miscreants.
The polling for Anantnag Lok Sabha seat is being held over three legs in view of security threats and the election authorities have clubbed many polling stations at one location to ensure minimal dispersion of security forces in Shopian and Pulwama districts.
Till 2.00 PM, only 1.8 per cent of the 5.22 lakh electorate cast their votes in the six Assembly segments spread across the two districts, officials said.
Main thoroughfares crisscrossing through Pulwama and Shopian districts were deserted with only security forces vehicles and mediapersons moving around as they discharged their duties.
Two polling booths in the Lelhaar area of Pulwama — home to many slain militants in recent years — did not see anyone turning up to cast vote.
Several polling stations set up in Kakapora — even for voters hailing from Kupwara town — had the same story to tell. Beating the trend, two people had braved militant threats and cast vote at Pulwama ‘E’ polling station, out of 1,039 eligible voters.
At Chowgam and Murran-38, one person each had cast their votes while at Murran-A, 16 people voted till 3 PM.
No one had turned up to vote at Drussoo, Ashwander, Daoora, Larkipora, Rohmoo, Maitrigam and Kangan polling stations.
The threat perception to poll process in these districts was not unfounded as militants lobbed a grenade at a polling station but there was no damage to life or property in the attack.
A police official said the explosive was a “socket grenade”, a crude bomb manufactured locally with explosive material fitted in a pipe.
Incidents of pelting of stones by miscreants were reported from many places in the twin districts. Shattered pieces of windscreens could be seen at some places, highlighting the dangers of moving between places in the poll-bound areas.
People in the Tral assembly segment, the native area of slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani and several of his associates, have mostly stayed away from voting. Out of 88,000 voters, only 458 voted.
Moderate polling could be seen at some polling stations in Pampore Assembly segment, the hometown of National Conference candidate and former High Court judge Hasnain Masoodi.
Pulwama and Shopian districts have witnessed low key campaigning both due to security reasons and general disinterest among people in the elections.
No wall, street or building is festooned with colourful flags and banners of the parties.
Security forces working to ensure smooth conduct of the polls have cracked the whip on trouble-mongers.
While there are no official figures, a rough estimate is that 400 youths have been picked up and lodged in jails as a precautionary measure.
Pulwama, known as the “Anand (delight) of Kashmir” for its congenial climate, innumerable springs and water falls, hogged the headlines when a suicide bomber rammed his car into a CRPF convoy on February 14, killing 40 paramilitary forces.
Since then the campaign for 2019 Lok Sabha polls has revolved around Pulwama and terrorism with parties making nationalism a key poll issue.
Pulwama district has 3,51,314 electors, including 1,81,259 males, 1,69,508 females, 541 service electors (533 male and 08 female) and 6 transgenders.
For smooth polling, the Election Commission has set up 450 polling stations across the district.
Shopian district has 1,71,216 electors, including 89,868 males, 81,227 females, 116 service electors (113 male and 03 female) and five transgender voters and for them 245 polling stations have been set up across the district.
The elections to Anantnag parliamentary seat was divided into three phases.
Earlier Anantnag voted on April 23 in which 12.8 per cent votes were cast. This was followed by the second phase in Kulgam on April 29 which recorded around 10 per cent voting.