‘Give Your Anger a Voice’: Omar Abdullah Urges Anantnag to Vote
Omar Abdullah, former CM  of Jammu and Kashmir, took to Twitter to request voters to exercise their right to vote.
Omar Abdullah, former CM of Jammu and Kashmir, took to Twitter to request voters to exercise their right to vote.(Photo: Reuters) 

‘Give Your Anger a Voice’: Omar Abdullah Urges Anantnag to Vote

Polling for Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag Lok Sabha polls began on Tuesday, 23 April. However, in the first two hours of voting, not a single vote was cast in the constituency, which is a hotbed of militant activity.

According to the Election Commission of India, the voter turnout in Jammu and Kashmir was at 9.63% till 2:30 pm.

Voting gradually picked up, although has remained very low. Meanwhile, former chief minister Omar Abdullah took to Twitter and urged people to “vote to give anger a voice.”

In the hilly areas of the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, a total of 4.2% voter turnout was recorded till 10 am.

Unlike Shangus, Kokernag, Dooru and Pahalgam, where queues of voters were witnessed coming out to exercise their franchise, in Anantnag and Bijbehara, very few people turned up.

Due to the strained security situation in the constituency, it was decided that the voting will be held in three phases, beginning Tuesday. Ensuring the highest security in the constituency, the EC has also curtailed the voting time to 2 pm.

Security forces have been deployed along roads and hillside areas overlooking the polling stations to prevent militants from disrupting the poll process. In addition to this, mobile internet facility and train services have been suspended for the day.

Earlier in the day, the voting percentage figures released by the Election Commission showed 0% voting in Anantnag at 9 am as voters stayed indoors and its 1,842 polling booths were empty.

The seat is crucial for former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti as she is among the 18 candidates whose fate is to be decided by 5.3 lakh voters in Anantnag.

The high-profile elections are vital in shaping the political future of Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Considered a PDP stronghold, Mehbooba Mufti had won from here in 2014, defeating NC candidate Mehboob Beg by more than 65,000 votes. Later in the Assembly elections, the polling in south Kashmir reached 39% turnout and the PDP got the highest vote share in south Kashmir.

After her father’s death, when Mehbooba became J&K chief minister in 2016, she got elected from her father’s Assembly seat and she then vacated her Lok Sabha seat to field her younger brother Tasaduq Mufti from there.

However, the by-elections could not be held in the state owing to the fragile security situation.

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Mehbooba Mufti is engaged in a tripartite contest with NC candidate Justice Hasnain Masoodi (retd) and Jammu and Kashmir Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir.

Sofi Yousuf, the only Muslim legislator fielded by BJP from Kashmir, is also in the fray in Anantnag. However, the party does not have a strong base in South Kashmir.

(With inputs from IANS).

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