Voter turnout will be watched keenly Tuesday in the third phase of the five-phase Kashmir assembly polls that is taking place in the shadow of terror attacks from across the border Dec 5 that left 21 people dead, an attack that Prime Minister Narendra Modi denounced as an "attack on democracy". The first two phases had recorded 70 percent and more electoral turnout.Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is one of the leading candidates in the electoral battle in 16 constituencies spread over three of the districts of the Kashmir Valley.
"For the first time this year, such a large number of security forces are being deployed to provide a safe and secure environment to voters and staff," a security officer told IANS. The officer said the deployment of over 500 companies of Jammu and Kashmir Police and the Central Reserve Police Force had become necessary following the terror attacks of Dec 5.
About 1.37 million people are eligible to vote in the districts of Baramulla, Badgam and Pulwama at 1,781 polling stations. The electorate includes 717,049 males, 650,476 females and 23 third gender voters.A total of 138 candidates will be in the fray Tuesday.They include Omar Abdullah (Beerwah), Congress leader Chowdhary Taj Mohiuddin (Uri), minister Ghulam Hassan Mir (Gulmarg), National Conference leader Abdul Rahim Rather (Chrar-e-Sharief) and junior minister Javaid Ahmad Dar (Rafiabad).Omar Abdullah is contesting from Beerwah after giving up his family's political bastion, the Ganderbal constituency, from where he won in 2008.No constituency in the Jammu region goes to polls Tuesday.The 16 constituencies include four in Pulwama district (Pulwama, Pampore, Rajpora and Tral), five in Badgam district (Chadoora, Badgam, Beerwah, Khan Sahib and Chrar-e-Sharief) and seven in Baramulla district (Uri, Baramulla, Sopore, Rafiabad, Sangrama, Pattan and Gulmarg).Sopore has the highest number of voters at 103,727 while Uri has the lowest -- 74,417 voters.The highest number of 15 candidates is also in the Sopore constituency. Only five candidates are contesting in Uri.While the first phase of the Jammu and Kashmir election witnessed 70 percent voter turnout, this rose in the second phase to 72 percent.Tuesday's polling will start at 8 a.m. and end at 4 p.m.