In first major polls after Art 370 abrogation, Srinagar records highest voter turnout in last 28 yrs

Srinagar PC records highest poll percentage of 37.99 in many decades, Kangan AC tops with 58.80 % | 6700 migrant voters exercise their voting right


SRINAGAR, May 13: A voter turnout of more than 36 per cent took place in the redrawn Srinagar Lok Sabha seat without any untoward incident on Monday, the highest since 1996 when the constituency in Jammu and Kashmir recorded nearly 41 per cent polling.
The Srinagar constituency recorded 36.58 per cent voting till 8 pm, the Election Commission of India said.
This was the first general election in the valley after the abrogation of Article 370 and the enactment of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, the EC said in a statement.
Voting took place in the districts of Srinagar, Ganderbal, and Pulwama, and partly in Budgam and Shopian districts at around 2,135 polling stations across the Srinagar parliamentary constituency with live webcasting at all the polling stations.
Polling started at 7 am with long queues of enthusiastic voters waiting to cast their votes, the statement said.
Voters of Srinagar, Budgam, Ganderbal, Pulwama, and Shopian showed up in record numbers to cast their votes in a show of faith and enthusiasm in the election process, it added.
According to the EC, the highest polling in this constituency in the last 34 years has been in 1996 when nearly 41 per cent voters used their franchise.
In 2019, 14.43 per cent votes polled whereas the figure in previous parliamentary elections stood at 25.86 per cent (2014), 25.55 (2009), 18.57 (2004), 11.93 (1999) and 30.06 per cent (1998), the statement said.
National Conference candidate Aga Ruhullah, PDP's Wahid Para, JK Apni Party's Ashraf Mir and DPAP's Amit Bhat are among 24 candidates fighting from the Srinagar seat. In the 2019 general elections, only 12 candidates were in the fray from the seat.
The Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency was redrawn after the delimitation and parts of Budgam in central Kashmir were taken away from it, while Pulwama district and parts of Shopian district were added.
Polling and security personnel worked tirelessly to ensure that an atmosphere of calm, peace and festivities welcomed voters at the polling stations, the EC added.
More than 8,000 polling staff were on duty to cater to the over 17.47 lakh-strong electorate.
Command-and-Control centres have been working 24x7 in Srinagar as well as Jammu since March 16, the date of announcement of the general elections, to ensure free and fair elections, the EC said.
In order to ensure inclusive voting, polling stations managed by women, specially abled persons and youths were set up. There were 21 green and eco-friendly polling stations, it added.
The Commission has enabled Kashmiri migrant voters residing at various relief camps in Delhi, Jammu, and Udhampur to also have the option of voting in person at designated special polling stations or using postal ballot.
As many as 21 Special Polling Stations were established at Jammu, one at Udhampur and four at Delhi.
Planned, consistent and targeted interventions to promote voter awareness as part of SVEEP activities has contributed to the noteworthy rise in voter turnout, the EC said.
As per the data provided, the polling percentage until 5 P.M. stood at 36 percent, marking the second-highest turnout since 1989. The figures for previous years were shared as follows:
• 2019: 14.43%
• 2014: 25.86%
• 2009: 25.55%
• 2004: 18.57%
• 1999: 11.93%
• 1998: 30.06%
• 1996: 40.94%
Pole, estimated the final polling percentage to be approximately 40 percent, noting the significant improvement in turnout compared to previous elections.
Highlighting the logistics involved, Pole mentioned that there were 2135 polling stations across 18 assembly segments. Over 8500 civil employees, along with police and CRPF personnel, double that number, worked tirelessly over the past two days to ensure the smooth conduct of the polls.
“We had special arrangements in place for females and aged persons, with every polling station under CCTV surveillance,” he added.
Regarding youth participation, Pole stated that there were 2 lakh registered youth voters, and 26 special polling stations were set up for migrants, with over 6 thousand migrant voters casting their ballots, contributing to a tentative poll percentage of 36 percent among migrant voters.
Pole also addressed preventive measures, emphasizing the overall peaceful conduct of the polls. “Preventive measures were taken only in cases where individuals had a criminal background or anti—national history, ensuring that polling stations remained incident-free,” he clarified.
Pole added that Srinagar recorded the lowest EVM replacement rate at 0.1 percent, while Jammu reported the highest at 3 percent.
The CEO attributed the great success behind this hugely increased polling percentage to improved security and law and order environment in last 4-5 years, mobilization by 24 candidates and political parties, election awareness executed by Deputy Commissioners and CEO office through SVEEP activities and more importantly voters strong belief that it is the ballot which can lead to sustainable development (Aman, Tarraki and Khushhali).
The polling took place in 2,135 polling stations across the Srinagar Parliamentary Constituency with live webcasting at all the polling stations with voting started at 7 am across the PC with long queues of enthusiastic voters waiting to cast their votes.
Demonstrating the spirit of democracy, the voters of all the districts showed up in record numbers to cast their votes in a significant show of their faith in the election process. Since beginning of the poll at 7.00 am, the voters were seen queuing up at many polling stations across the all 5 districts. Elderly, ladies and youths were seen enthusiastically exercising their right to vote in a peaceful environment.
The Chief Electoral Officer monitored the progress of voting across the Parliamentary Constituency from the Union Territory-level Command and Control Center established at ICCC- HMT, Bemina and CEO Office, Srinagar. It is pertinent to mention here that the Command and Control center has been working 24x7 at Srinagar as well as Jammu since 16 March to ensure free, fair and inducement-free elections.
After two hours of polling, 5.16% voting was recorded in the constituency at 09:00 am, 15.05% at 11.00 am, 23.80% at 01:00 pm and 30.23% voting was recorded at 3:00 pm. By 5:00 pm, 36.10% polling was recorded in the constituency. Assembly segment wise highest poll percentage was observed in Kangan with 58.80 % while Habbakadal registered lowest polling of 14.05 %.
The gross voter turnout recorded in past few elections in the Srinagar PC, as given by the CEO office, was 14.43 % in 2019, 25.86 % in 2019, 25.55 in 2009, 18.57 % in 2004, 11.93 % in 1999, 30.06 % in 1998, 40.94 % in 1996, no election was held in 1991 due to turmoil and 1989 remained uncontested.
The highest ever poll percentage since the eruption of terrorism in Kashmir was recorded in year 1996 with 40.94 %. But in 1996 the geographical boundary of Srinagar Parliamentary Constituency was smaller (only Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts), however, now with addition of districts and increase in size of PC we can say it is the highest for Srinagar PC in today’s size, added the CEO.
At the time of culmination of polling, Assembly Segment wise tentative voter turnout in 2-Srinagar PC was Kangan 58.80 %, Ganderbal 49.48 %, Hazaratbal 28.28 %, Khanyar 24.24 %, Habbakadal 14.05 %, Lal Chowk 27.33 %, Channapora 22.97 %, Zadibal 29.41 %, Eidgah 26.81 %, Central Shalteng 26.43 %, Khansahib 50.35 %, Charar-e-Sharib 56.00 %, Chadoora 49.10 %, Pampore 38.01 %, Tral 40.29 %, Pulwama 43.39 %, Rajpora 45.79 %, Shopian 47.88 %. Also, the total migrant special PS polling was 39.09 % besides receiving 2832 postal votes (absentee, VFC and receive ETPBMS till date).
These figures against each Assembly Segment are tentative as postal votes polled during home voting, through EDC, Postal ballot, ETPBs and migrant votes polled at special polling stations are not added.
More than 8,500 polling staff has performed poll duty and actual polling continued till 6.00 pm or conclusion of the polling, whichever is later. At every polling station, basic minimum facilities of water, electricity, toilet, ramp, verandah/ waiting room etc were made. The wheelchairs and volunteers were provided as and when required. In order to ensure inclusive voting, 20 number of polling booths managed by women (also called as pink polling stations), 18 polling booths managed by specially abled persons and 17 polling stations managed by youths were established. Also to spread the message about environmental concerns, 21 green polling stations were set up. To facilitate voter identification, apart from EPIC card, other documents such as Adhar card, Bank Passbooks, Driving License, PAN Card, Govt employee ID card etc documents were also allowed as per Election Commission of India’s directions. Media facilitation was done through special passes for more than 600 journalists.
The democratic spirit has won over any kind of apprehension in the mind of the average Kashmiri voter. As per guidance of CEC, Rajiv Kumar, the meticulous planning and execution of SVEEP activities was done which ultimately resulted in a significant increase in the voter turnout. Every nukkad natak, street play, painting competition and rally has translated into an increase overall voter turnout. The spirit of democracy has triumphed and not even a single incident of stone pelting has been reported.
The enthusiasm among the political parties, who are an important stakeholder in the democratic process can be gauged from the fact that a record number of applications regarding various permissions had been received on the Suvidha portal. The General Elections to Lok Sabha in PC- SRINAGAR have been violence free and has witnessed historic participation from the voters of Kashmir.
There were 17140 Kashmiri migrants electors in Srinagar who opted for voting at 26 Special Polling Stations established at Jammu (21), Udhampur (01) and Delhi (04). At these 26 special polling stations, there was voter turnout of 39.09 %. A total of 6700 migrant voters exercised their voting right, out of which, 213 voted at Delhi, 160 at Udhampur and 6327 exercised their voting right at Jammu. It is also for the first time that the migrant community has turned for vote in such a large numbers.
The Chief Electoral Officer extended gratitude to all the voters for their historic participation in the festival of democracy. He also appreciated the Polling personnel including security staff, police officers, ARO, RO and District Election Officers for their contribution in making the ongoing elections successful.

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