Srinagar: Ignoring boycott call by separatist groups and braving cold weather, moderate polling was on Tuesday recorded in most of the 15 constituencies going to polls in the first of the five-phased polls in Jammu and Kashmir.
Barring couple of stray incidents of violence in Ganderbal and Bandipora districts, polling was by and large peaceful.
Nearly 16 per cent of the 10.52 lakh electorate exercised their franchise in the first two hours of polling while serpentine queues could be seen at many polling stations as voters waited for their turn.
According to official figures, Gurez Assembly segment in Bandipora district recorded the highest turnout of 24 per cent in the first two hours of polling till 10.00 AM.
Kangan Assembly segment in Ganderbal district also recorded a good turnout of 18.50 per cent during the corresponding period.
Bandipora Assembly segment recorded 15.44 per cent polling, followed by Banihal with 14.82 per cent, Ramban with 14.56 percent, Doda and Bhaderwah 14 per cent each, Ganderbal with 13.69.
However, voter turnout was low in Kargil and Leh assembly segments, where the minimum temperatures are eight to 10 degrees below freezing point.
Kargil recorded only four per cent turnout in the first two hours while Leh recorded 6.27 per cent. Zanskar and Nobra segments, also falling in the Ladakh region, witnessed around 9.50 per cent turnout.
The average turnout in other constituencies was 15 per cent.
In the 2008 Assembly elections, an average of over 60 per cent polling was witnessed.
The situation across the state has been by and large peaceful so far, barring couple of stray incidents of violence in Ganderbal and Bandipora districts.
Suspected militants hurled grenades at two polling stations in Nowpora area of bandipora and Naidkhai area of Sonawari but there was no damage done in the explosions.
The polling went on peacefully even after the explosions as the grenades landed some distance away from the booths.
In Barsoo area of Ganderbal, PDP supporters clashed with National Conference supporters, resulting in minor injuries to one person.
Twelve sitting MLAs, including seven ministers, are among 123 candidates trying their luck in the 15 constituencies where polling in underway in all three regions of the state.
While six constituencies in Jammu division have gone to polls, electorate in five segments in Kashmir and four in Ladakh will decide the political fortunes of the aspirants in the polling.
The Assembly segments going to polls include Kishtwar, Inderwal, Doda, Bhaderwah, Ramban and Banihal (in Jammu division); Gurez, Bandipora, Sonawari, Kangan and Ganderbal (in Kashmir), Nobra, Leh, Kargil and Zanskar (in Ladakh).
A total of 10,502,50 voters, including 5,49,698 men and 5,00,539 women, besides 13 transgenders are eligible to exercise their right to franchise in the first phase of the polls.
Nearly 1900 polling stations have been set-up by the election authorities in these 15 constituencies.
While Bandipora, Ganderbal and Bhaderwah have the highest number of candidates, 13 each, in fray, Leh has the lowest number of candidates with a direct fight between Congress and BJP.
There are four candidates in fray in Gurez, seven in Sonawari, 10 in Kangan, six each in Nobra and Banihal, four each in Kargil and Zanskar, 10 in Kishtwar, 12 in Inderwal, 11 in Doda and eight in Ramban.
Seven ministers are seeking re-election in the first phase - Nazir Ahmad Khan Gurezi (from Gurez), Mohammad Akbar Lone (Sonawari), Mian Altaf (Kangan), Sajad Kichloo (Kishtwar), Abdul Majid Wani (Doda), Nawang Rigzin Joa (Leh) and Vikar Rasool Wani (Banihal).
Besides the ministers who are all sitting MLAs, five legislators are seeking a re-election in the first phase of polls.
PDP's Nizamudding Bhat (Bandipora), Congress candidates Ghulam Mohammad Saroori (Inderwal), Sharief Niaz (Bhaderwah), Ashok Kumar (Ramban) and National Conference's Tsetan Namgyal (Nobra) are the sitting MLAs seeking another term.
Many star campaigners, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi campaigned for their party candidates for the first phase of polls.
Separatist groups like all factions of Hurriyat Conference and JKLF have called for a boycott of the polls.