Enthusiastic voters lined up outside polling stations in Jammu and Kashmir Tuesday as a weak winter sun peeped through the clouds.Long queues of men and women appeared at polling stations in Kangan, Ganderbal, Sonawari and Gurez assembly constituencies of the Kashmir Valley after polling started on a dull note in the morning at 8 a.m. because of the intense cold.Election authorities have said no untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the state where first two hours of polling passed off peacefully."Polling started peacefully at all the 1,787 polling stations spread over seven districts," an official said.Over a million voters will get to decide the political fate of 123 candidates who are in the fray in the first phase of the five-phase election.In Banihal, Ramban, Kishtwar, Inderwal, Doda and Bhaderwah constituencies, brisk polling started after a dull start in the morning.
Reports from Leh, Kargil, Zanskar and Nubra constituencies of the Ladakh region said both Muslim and Buddhist voters turned out wearing traditional dresses to exercise their franchise.Women outnumbered male voters at some polling stations of Ladakh region.Enthusiasm was palpable in Lar town of Ganderbal assembly constituency as both the National Conference (NC) and the PDP candidates, Sheikh Ashfaq Jabbar and Qazi Muhammad Afzal, belong to this town.In the polling station set up inside the block development office in Lar town, presiding officer Sheikh Bashir Ahmad had a tough time convincing two candidates' supporters who had turned up in large numbers to remain peaceful and allow polling to proceed.
Out of 1,200 votes at this polling station, 180 were cast in the first two hours and voter queues continued to swell."We have decided to participate in the elections to vote for change," said Nisar, 24, who was voting for the first time.Long queues were also seen in Sumbal town of Sonawari constituency and in Bandipora town of Bandipora constituency.Both Sonawari and Bandipora are witnessing a close contest between the NC, PDP and the Congress.In Ganderbal polling station established in Ganderbal Higher Secondary School, because of the poll boycott in the town, out of 878 votes, only 65 votes were cast in the Lok Sabha election. In Tuesday's voting, during the first two hours more than 250 voters have already exercised their franchise.
Voting started on a slow note in the 15 assembly constituencies due to the freezing temperature and foggy weather.In Nubra, Leh, Kargil and Zanskar constituencies of Ladakh region, the morning temperature was several notches below the freezing point. In Gurez border constituency, only one or two voters turned up at the start of ballotting.The morning cold also affected the early voter turnout in Doda, Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Inderwal, Ramban and Banihal constituencies in the Jammu region.Young voters queued up at the Hariganimen polling booth of the Kangan constituency in Ganderbal district. Dressed in traditional Kashmiri attire, most of them probably were first-time voters.
The total number of registered voters at this booth is 642 - 335 males and 307 females - of whom around 50 votes were cast by 8.30 a.m.Mamina, a 20-year-old student, told IANS: "I will vote for somebody who will work for development of this backward area."Two districts in the Kashmir Valley, two in the Ladakh region, and three in Jammu region vote Tuesday.Besides 225 micro observers, the Election Commission has arranged webcasting at 159 polling stations.