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J-K assembly polls: 72 per cent polling in 2nd phase

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Srinagar/Jammu (Dec. 02, 2014):In a rerun of record polling in the first phase, a 72 per cent voter turnout was registered in the second phase of incident-free Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir today with people again ignoring boycott calls by separatist groups and braving chilly weather.

Election commission officials said the figure for the polling in 18 constituencies in five districts-- two in the Valley and three in Jammu--could go up a little once the final tally is available.

Dealing a serious blow to separatist politics, enthusiastic voters stood in serpentine queues at several polling stations waiting for their turn after they walked in fog and cold.

The first phase of the five-phase polls for 15 seats on November 25 had witnessed a record 71.28 per cent polling.

Election Commission officials said tonight that according to latest updates voting had touched 72 per cent.

Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshi at a press conference in Delhi shortly after the conclusion of polling in the evening said there was a 71 per cent turnout and that it could go up by 1-2 per cent.

Zutshi said that during the entire phase today there was "no untoward incident" and the entire poll process was peaceful.

Today's poll percentage, the Deputy EC said, is higher than 61.04 per cent polled during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and 68.79 per cent recorded during the 2008 Assembly elections.

Voters came out in large numbers in Kulgam district(over 60 per cent) in the Valley unmindful of the back-to-back attacks by militants on two sarpanches over the last two days in adjoining Shopian district. The attacks led to the death of one sarpanch on Sunday night. There was a tight security cover in Kulgam and Kupwara districts.

The corresponding figures for voting today in the other four districts were: Reasi (80 per cent), Udhampur (76 per cent), Poonch (75 per cent) and Kupwara (68 per cent).

Zutshi said the weather was "very supportive" during the polls and there was no snowfall.

Today's phase involved an electorate of 15.35 lakh. A total of 175 candidates, including four sitting ministers and 11 other sitting MLAs were in the fray.

Of the 18 constituencies, Handwara in north Kashmir's Kupwara district was in focus as separatist-turned-mainstream politician Sajad Gani Lone is making a debut in Assembly elections after unsuccessfully contesting the Lok Sabha polls in 2009.

Although the cold weather conditions and heavy fog posed a hindrance in some areas in the early hours, voters started flocking the polling stations as the day progressed and the sun came out.

In Jammu, the state's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Umang Narula told reporters that there were 4 polling booths where there has been zero poll turn out due to some local issues in Kulgam district.