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Srinagar/Jammu, Nov 25 : Ignoring boycott call by separatist groups and braving cold weather, nearly 33 percent polling was today recorded till noon, in most of the 15 constituencies going to polls in first of the five-phased polls in Jammu and Kashmir. According to official figures, Doda Assembly segment has recorded the highest turnout of 41 per cent, followed by Inderwal with 39.67 per cent, Kangan with 39.50 per cent, Sonawari with 38.99 per cent. Also Read - India-US 2+2 Dialogue: China on Cards, Rajnath, Jaishankar Seek to Bolster Bilateral Partnership
Similarly, Bandipora Assembly segment recorded 32.72 per cent polling, 36.89 per cent in Banihal, 36.20 per cent in Ramban, 37.20 per cent in Bhaderwah, 31.17 per cent in Ganderbal, 37.54 per cent in Gurez, 36.57 pc in Kisthwar. Ladakh region, where the minimum temperature is eight degrees below freezing point, recorded slow polling in the morning hours. Kargil Assembly segment recorded 24 per cent polling, followed by Leh with 10.47 per cent, Nobra with 27.52 per cent and Zanskar with 22.80 per cent polling. Also Read - India, US to Sign Landmark BECA Military Deal Today to Strengthen Defence Ties | All You Need to Know
While nearly 33 per cent of the 10.52 lakh electorate exercised their franchise till 12 PM, serpentine queues could be seen at many polling stations as voters waited for their turn. In the 2008 Assembly elections, an average of over 60 per cent polling was witnessed. The situation across the state has been by and large peaceful so far, barring couple of stray incidents of violence in Ganderbal and Bandipora districts. Suspected militants hurled grenades at two polling stations in Nowpora area of Bandipora and Naidkhai area of Sonawari but there was no damage done in the explosions.
The polling went on peacefully even after the explosions as the grenades landed some distance away from the booths. In Barsoo area of Ganderbal, PDP supporters clashed with National Conference supporters, resulting in minor injuries to one person. Twelve sitting MLAs, including seven ministers, are among 123 candidates trying their luck in the 15 constituencies where polling in underway in all three regions of the state. While six constituencies in Jammu division have gone to polls, electorate in five segments in Kashmir and four in Ladakh will decide the political fortunes of the aspirants in the polling.
The Assembly segments going to polls include Kishtwar, Inderwal, Doda, Bhaderwah, Ramban and Banihal (in Jammu division); Gurez, Bandipora, Sonawari, Kangan and Ganderbal (in Kashmir), Nobra, Leh, Kargil and Zanskar (in Ladakh). A total of 10,502,50 voters, including 5,49,698 men and 5,00,539 women, besides 13 transgenders are eligible to exercise their right to franchise in the first phase of the polls.
Nearly 1900 polling stations have been set-up by the election authorities in these 15 constituencies.
While Bandipora, Ganderbal and Bhaderwah have the highest number of candidates, 13 each, in fray, Leh has the lowest number of candidates with a direct fight between Congress and BJP. There are four candidates in fray in Gurez, seven in Sonawari, 10 in Kangan, six each in Nobra and Banihal, four each in Kargil and Zanskar, 10 in Kishtwar, 12 in Inderwal, 11 in Doda and eight in Ramban. Seven ministers are seeking re-election in the first phase – Nazir Ahmad Khan Gurezi (from Gurez), Mohammad Akbar Lone (Sonawari), Mian Altaf (Kangan), Sajad Kichloo (Kishtwar), Abdul Majid Wani (Doda), Nawang Rigzin Joa (Leh) and Vikar Rasool Wani (Banihal).
Besides the ministers who are all sitting MLAs, five legislators are seeking a re-election in the first phase of polls. PDP’s Nizamudding Bhat (Bandipora), Congress candidates Ghulam Mohammad Saroori (Inderwal), Sharief Niaz (Bhaderwah), Ashok Kumar (Ramban) and National Conference’s Tsetan Namgyal (Nobra) are the sitting MLAs seeking another term. Many star campaigners, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi campaigned for their party candidates for the first phase of polls. Separatist groups like all factions of Hurriyat Conference and JKLF have called for a boycott of the polls.