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Kashmir holds peaceful panchayat polls

Monday May 16, 2011 02:49:43 PM, IANS

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Srinagar: People exercised their franchise peacefully yet again in the Jammu and Kashmir panchayat polls Monday, with women voters in particular turning out in large numbers in the ninth phase of the elections.

A total of 3.4 lakh voters were eligible to vote to elect 1,790 panches and 253 sarpanches in the nine blocks that went to the hustings.

The blocks were Tangdhar in Kupwara, Singhpora in Baramulla, Sumbal in Bandipora, Khoripora in south Kashmir, Anantnag and Srinagar block in Srinagar district of the valley, and Kishtwar, Rambal, Kathua and Marh in the Jammu region.

Voting started at 8 a.m. and concluded at 2 p.m.

A large number of voters came out early morning in Khimber area of Srinagar block to cast their votes. Women outnumbered men at many polling stations in the Srinagar block.

Over 75 percent votes have been polled on an average in the panchayat elections despite a boycott call given by hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani.

Other separatist leaders, including Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, chairman of the moderate Hurriyat group, and Muhammad Yasin Malik of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) have maintained a discreet silence over these elections.

Instead of electronic voting machines (EVMs), poll authorities are using paper ballots and ballot boxes for the panchayat polls, which are being held in 16 phases. The last phase will be held June 18.

Votes are counted at the polling stations and results declared the same day. The elections are being fought on a non-party basis and no political party has been allowed to field its candidates.




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