Jammu, October 8: Despite a poll boycott call issued by the separatists and the two major regional parties - National Conference and People's Democratic Party, the Muslim electorate in Jammu turned out in large numbers to case their mandate.
In the three districts of Jammu, where civic polls were held today, an above-normal voter turnout was recorded. By 1pm, the SEC had registered 63.5 percent in Poonch and 67.7 per cent in Rajouri, whereas, 43.4 percent voters had turned out in Jammu district. Jammu & Kashmir Local Body Elections 2018: Valley Gives Cold Shoulder to J-K Civic Polls; 6 Per Cent Turnout Till 1pm.
Notably, the Muslim population totals up to nearly 28 per cent in the three districts combined. As per reports, voters in the minority-dominated pockets of Gujjar Nagar, Talab Khatikan, Ustad Mohalla and Bhatindi turned en-mass to register their vote.
67-year-old Mohammed Ayub, after casting his vote in Gujjar Nagar, said at least 80 per cent of Muslims have come out to cast their mandate. Slamming the NC and PDP for refraining from participating in the polls, he said it would be unconstitutional to not exercise the right to franchise granted by the Constitution.
27-year-old Iftikhar Khan said the Muslim voters would had better electoral options had the NC and PDP not refrained from entering the polling fray.
The views were reiterated by 21-year-old Shaheen Khatun - a first-time voter - who accused the NC and PDP of playing "selfish politics" at the cost of "our interest". Khatun said their civic amenities would improve only by voting, not boycotting.
Meanwhile, the civic elections failed to draw voters in Kashmir, where only 7 per cent polling was recorded by the SEC till 2pm. The voters in the Valley consider Article 35-A -- which guarantees special status to J&K -- as a far bigger issue than electing their grassroot representatives.
Notably, in the first-phase of elections which was held today, a total of 422 wards were contested. The maximum seats were up for grabs in Jammu (247), followed by 149 in Kashmir and 26 in Ladakh.