Over 57 pc polling in Jammu LS seat till 3 pm

Jammu, Apr 26 (PTI) More than 57 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the first four hours of polling in the Jammu constituency in the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections on Friday, officials said.

The voting began at 7 am in 2,416 polling stations in the constituency and is going on peacefully, the officials said and added that 57.76 per cent votes were polled till 3 pm.

There are more than 17.80 lakh eligible voters in this constituency.

Electors are casting their votes to decide the fate of 22 candidates, including sitting MP Jugal Kishore Sharma, who is eyeing a third term after winning the seat for the BJP in 2014 and 2019. The INDIA bloc has fielded Jammu and Kashmir Congress working president Raman Bhalla.

The Lok Sabha polls is the first major electoral battle in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of the erstwhile state into Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh — on August 5, 2019.

The highest voter turnout of 65.78 per cent was recorded in Jammu Lok Sabha constituency’s Akhnoor assembly segment till 3 pm, the officials said.

The Shri Mata Vaishnodevi segment recorded 64.77 per cent followed by Reasi 64.19 per cent, Gulabgarh 63.07 per cent, Nagrota 61.76 per cent, Samba 61.36 per cent, March 60.71 per cent and Chhamb 60.19 per cent.

The lowest voter turnout till 1 pm was recorded in the Bahu segment at 49.31 per cent, the officials said.

Union Minister Jitendra Singh cast his vote in the Trikutanagar area of Jammu and said there is massive excitement among people.

“This is the base of successful democracy and that is why it is called a festival… All the phases will turn out to be great for the BJP,” he told reporters here.

Sitting MP Sharma, who along with his family members voted at a polling booth set up at the Kishenpur government high school in Nagrota, said that people should come out of their homes and contribute to a strong democracy by exercising their right to vote.

Jammu and Kashmir BJP chief Ravinder Raina, who undertook visits to various polling booths in Samba and Jammu districts, thanked people for coming out in large numbers to vote.

“People are coming out of their houses since morning and voting. They enthusiasm is high. More voters should come out of their houses to exercise their right,” he said.

Congress leader Bhalla, who voted in Jammu along with his family, expressed happiness over the smooth polling going in the constituency.

“I am proud to say that this time hopefully we will get the blessings of Mata Vaishno Devi. We will win the constituency. Reasi has been included in Jammu constituency so that we can get the blessings of Mata,” said Bhalla.

In a polling station in Reasi district, 102-year-old Haji Karamdin exercised his right to franchise. “I am very happy to vote at this polling station at this age,” he said.

Over 15,000 polling staff have been deployed while security arrangements are foolproof to ensure free-and-fair polls, the officials said.

Of the 2,416 polling stations 158 are along the International Border and the Line of Control (LoC).

“Security and other related arrangements are in place to ensure free, fair and peaceful voting. A contingency plan has also been worked out to ensure no disruption in polling along the borders,” Jammu and Kashmir’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Pandurang K Pole said.

Around 1,454 polling stations have CCTV cameras for live webcasting to control rooms and around 124 polling stations have two cameras for inside and outside surveillance, the officials said.

Around 2,000 vehicles of polling parties and sector officers are equipped with a GPS system so as to locate the vehicle and monitor movement, including over speeding, they said.

Besides, satellite phones, wireless sets and special runners have been put in place in around 13 polling stations which fall in communication shadow areas, the officials said.

Jammu is the second Lok Sabha seat in Jammu and Kashmir to go to polls. Earlier, polling was held in the Udhampur seat on April 19, recording a voter turnout of more than 68 per cent.

Jammu recorded a voter turnout of 74 per cent in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

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