Sopore, Apr 11: The separatist bastions in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district chose to stay away from polls while a moderate voting was witnessed in rural areas of the district in the first phase of Lok Sabha elections on Thursday.
The state government led by Governor Satya Pal Malik had arrested most of the separatist leadership months ahead of the polls.
However, the impact of their boycott call was still felt in their bastions in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district including Palhallan, Sopore and Baramulla towns, where majority of the people didn’t turn to polling booths.
In Palhallan, which has a population of over 15,000 people, a huge deployment of forces was seen around five polling booths and streets of the entire village.
On either end of the road leading towards the village from the highway, paramilitary CRPF in tens had occupied the entry and exit points of the streets.
The main gates of all the five polling stations were closed where every person entering the booth was thoroughly frisked before being allowed to head towards the polling booth.
Only 44 votes were polled out of 3,979 voters in five polling booths of the village till 12 pm.
Later, a group of youth appeared from one of the streets and pelted stones at the forces guarding the polling booth Palhallan (A).
Locals said that many youth in the village had faced police cases and were slapped with Public Safety Act (PSA) in the recent years.
“Even now scores are detained. So people won’t majorly vote for any politician. Those who have voted are not civilians but workers of political parties,” said a youth, who didn’t reveal his name.
Sopore, home town of Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, equally looked deserted where the lowest voter turnout of 4.35 per cent was recorded during the day.
In the main town, only 58 voters turned to cast their vote out of 7,303 electorates in 11 polling booths till noon.
“We have two booths Baghat (A) and Tawheed Bagh (A) where no vote has been polled yet. People in the town and some of the nearby villages completely boycott polls,” said a polling officer in one of the polling booth in Boys Higher Secondary School Sopore.
Not a single vote was cast till 6 pm in all the five villages including Dooru, Reshiabad, Yamberzal Payeen, Yadipora and Jageer, hometown of Afzal Guru.
As per an official statement, 4,864 out of 1,11,928 votes were cast in Sopore which is the lowest turnout among all constituencies for Baramulla seat where nine candidates were in fray.
Many polling booths in Baramulla town too recorded nominal voting on Thursday as majority of the areas witnessed a shutdown on Joint Hurriyat’s call.
At polling booth Arimpora, only five votes were cast till 2pm out of 449 electorates.
Similarly, in polling booth Azadgunj, 23 votes had been cast out of 1135 electorates till 2 pm.
Meanwhile, a moderate voting was witnessed elsewhere in the district particularly in rural areas where people had come out to vote for basic amenities.
In Singhpora village of Pattan area, voters had lined up in three polling booths to cast their vote.
The villages this Lok Sabha elections witnessed brisk polling as compared to the 2014 elections.
“We are forced to use water from the nearby stream and our demands have not been heard so far. We hope this time our demands will be met as many are casting their vote,” said an elderly man, Abdul Rehman Malik from Singhpora.
Similar scenes were witnessed in Hanjiwera, Tangmarg and Pattan, where men and women had queued outside polling booths right from the early hours.