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J&K phase IV sees 55% voting

Polling held in vast stretches of north and central Kashmir.

, ET Bureau|
Dec 08, 2008, 01.18 AM IST
SOPORE/SRINAGAR: The fourth phase of polling in Jammu and Kashmir, which was held in vast stretches of north and central Kashmir, saw an overall high turnout though certain areas recorded low polling percentages.

���By and large, the tempo of earlier three phases was sustained by this one as well,��� a senior officer said. ���Last time Sopore polled slightly more than 8%; this time it is tentatively at 14%,��� chief electoral officer B R Sharma said.

Baramulla moved up from 24% to 25%. The final figure may be higher. Barring a few segments, there was improvement everywhere.

For 18 segments that went to polls on Sunday, the overall average was 55%, 7% more than 2002. District-wise it was 43% for Baramulla, 54% for Budgam, 62.67% for Udhampur and 73.28% for Reasi.

Mr Sharma said his office received complaints on booth capturing by security agencies and political activists. His office has taken every complaint seriously. There were clashes at a number of places. In one case, the personal security officer of a contestant fired, forcing authorities to detain him.

In a separate incident of clashes between PDP and NC in Noorabad in south Kashmir, that will go to polls later this month, an activist was killed.

���We have only one polling station where a single vote was polled and that was in Uri, where people said it was not convenient for them to vote,��� Mr Sharma said. Urban belts of north Kashmir especially Sopore, Baramulla, parts of Pattan and Palhalan had scores of polling stations where the voting percentage was in single digits. There were three polling stations in Sopore where not a single vote was cast.

���I do not know how to comment on the grim situation,��� Congress veteran Ghulam Rasool Kar who fought tribals in 1947 and was a friend of Nehru and Indira Gandhi told ET, after polling his vote at Town Hall in Sopore. At 90, he is contesting as an independent against the Congress. ���The youth are out in all the lanes, they pelted stones on me but somehow I managed to reach the booth.���
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