No polling agent for 18 candidates
its 4:10 pm and the polling staff is wrapping up EVMs from a government school in Kanelwan village of Bijbehara, the native constituency of PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti.
Four polling booths had been set up for around 3500 voters at the Government High School here but only one turned to cast his vote.
Interestingly, none of the 18 candidates in the fray that included Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), National Conference (NC), Congress and the rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had any polling agent present here, depicting the mood at large.
People were seen busy with their daily chores, working in farms and orchards.
Youth in groups kept on intermittently attacking polling station with stones but were chased away by the paramilitary forces deployed around.
The scene was no different in other rural areas of the constituency that included Mahand, Wupzan, Waghama, Marhama, Sirhama and to an extent Khiram.
Senior PDP leader Abdul Rehman Veeri has won the Bijbehara assembly seat on three consecutive occasions from 2002 to 2014 while his party chief Mehbooba wrested the seat in 1996 on a Congress ticket.
While Bijbehara town always sided with Muftis, PDP had also made inroads in rural areas which till 1990s were a stronghold of NC.
But the 2014 assembly elections had slightly tilted the equation in favour of NC’s Bashir Veeri, the son of an NC veteran and former Prime Minister Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah’s close aide Abdul Gani Veeri in the rural pockets of Bijbehara.
However, the good turnout in the town had ensured that PDP’s Veeri sailed through.
The rural pockets this time boycotted the polls altogether while only in Veeri, the native village of NC’s Bashir Veeri and PDP’s Abdul Rehman Veeri, some 100 votes were polled.
Similarly, some votes were polled in Dadi village too but overall the constituency which consists of around 60 villages, mostly in Daochnipora belt along the Bijbehara-Pahalgam road, stayed away.
“How does one expect us to vote? Aren’t we all witness to violence perpetuated on us since the last PDP-BJP rule? On a daily basis, two to three civilians lost their lives,” said an elderly man, Ghulam Hassan, a former PDP supporter.
In the Anantnag town, some 3.47 percent votes were polled.
PDP chief turned out to vote along with her daughter and mother at the polling station set up along the old highway in the PHE office at Bijbehara.
“Even the workers of the party did not come out to vote. So, in Bjbehara it will be neck-to-neck between NC and PDP with the later having slight edge in Mufti’s native town,” said a PDP supporter.
Bijbehara witnessed the lowest turnout of 2.04 percent in the Anantnag district, which comprises of six assembly segments, during first phase of three-phased polling for the Anantnag parliamentary seat.