Record voter turnout in first LS polls in Srinagar since Article 370 nullification | India News

SRINAGAR: The redrawn Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency on Monday recorded 36.1% voter turnout, highest after 1996 polls, in the first general election held since the nullification of Article 370. In 1996, it was 40.94%, but fell to 30.06% in 1998.
The electoral battle for the LS seat, comprising 21 assembly segments after delimitation, is a three-cornered contest involving National Conference’s Aga Ruhullah, who is backed by Congress; Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP’s Waheed Parra; and Mohammad Ashraf Mir of Altaf Bukhari’s JK Apni Party, which is supported by Sajad Lone’s JK People’s Conference.
Although BJP didn’t field a candidate in any of the three LS seats of Kashmir region for the first time in three decades, NC and PDP see JK Apni Party and JK People’s Conference as “proxies” of the saffron party.
Assembly segment Chadoora recorded a 46.60% turnout, Chrar-i-Sharief 53.23%, Ganderbal 46.81%, Kangan (ST)-55.55%, Khan Sahib, 48.5%, Pulwama 39.25%, and Shopian 45.04%, EC officials said.
Polls in this constituency, once infamous for intimidation by terror outfits and alleged rigging, drew mixed reactions from voters, with Article 370’s nullification and development of the region being the deciding factors.
Several exiled Kashmiri Pandits were seen awaiting their turns at special polling booths in Jammu. “I have voted for our permanent return to Kashmir valley in an atmosphere of peace and security,” said Shrikrishan Kaw, in his late 40s, at Jagti camp in Jammu’s Nagrota.
His daughter, Rashi Kaw, first-time voter, said, “I voted to be part of democracy. I also want central govt to chart out the economic empowerment of the exiled community and create job opportunities in the Valley so that youth are engaged in nation building instead of being distracted from the mainstream.”
52,100 Kashmiri migrants are registered as voters in Srinagar seat. EC gave Kashmiri migrants residing at relief camps in Delhi, Jammu, and Udhampur an option to cast their vote via postal ballots or in person at 26 designated special polling booths: 21 in Jammu, 4 in Delhi, and 1 in Udhampur.
Kamran Ayub in Srinagar said, “I cast my vote to express my feelings. People should vote to tell the world whether they are happy with the nullification of Article 370.”
Abdul Qayoom Dar, 60, from Batapora in Rajpora assembly segment, said “We don’t want BJP and its allies to represent us in Parliament for scrapping special status to J&K.”
Gulzar Ahmad Dar of Ganderbal said he was backing Ghulam Nabi Azad’s DPAP in the NC bastion. His wife, Rafiqa Akhtar, said, “NC has done nothing for Ganderbal. This is why Abdullahs didn’t contest from Srinagar.”
NC chief and ex-CM Farooq Abdullah won the seat in 2019.
A section of the youth expressed scepticism about the impact of their vote. “Nobody in my family has ever cast a vote. I don’t think I will either. We don’t want false promises,” a first-time voter Gazala Mir said.
(With inputs from Dipak Dash in New Delhi and Sanjay Khajuria in Jammu)

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