Bandipora: Power of democracy prevailed over the separatist-sponsored call for boycott as voters from five constituencies of the Kashmir Valley today thronged polling stations to exercise their franchise in the first of the five-phased elections in the state.
Long queues of voters outside polling booths was evident of the people's desire to participate in the democratic process and elect their representatives for the next six years, unperturbed by the anti-election material posted by separatist outfits.
In three polling stations set up at Animal Husbandry building in Hajin town of this district, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), which had actively campaigned for poll boycott, had inscribed graffiti calling for boycott.
The electorate ignored the boycott call and turned up large numbers an hour before the scheduled start of polling at 8 AM to exercise their franchise.
The three polling stations had registered a turnout of more than 18 per cent in the first two hours till 10 AM. Out of total 2,027 votes, 368 were polled during the first two hours.
"Boycotting the elections does not matter in the present day scheme of things. We have seen over the years that an MLA would get elected irrespective of how many votes are cast," Ghulam Ahmad Parray, a 65-year-old, told PTI.
Parray said lesser number of votes cast always favour the wrong people. "If the majority of the electorate exercise their right, a true representative will be elected who will be accountable to all people of the constituency," he added.
Abdul Rashid Malik said there was an urge for change across the Bandipora district, which has resulted in a high voter turnout.
"This election is going to be very participative in nature. People across the Valley are going to vote. Development issues and basic amenities will be key consideration," he added.
Serpentine queues were seen at many places including Dangerpora, Gund Khaleel, Naid Khai, Bandipora and Sumbal polling stations.
Even two grenade attacks at polling stations this morning could not deter voters from exercising their franchise. Militants hurled a grenade towards a polling station at Naid Khai which exploded some distance from the booth. Instead of running away, the voters present in the queue remained calm and cast their votes.
A similar incident took place at Nowpora in Bandipora constituency.
Meanwhile in Leh, braving bone chilling cold voters ventured out of their homes to exercise their franchise since early morning.
The temperature was at shivering minus eight degree Celsius when the polling commenced at 8 AM, but this did not deter the electorate who were enthusiastic about electing their representatives.
Among those who voted in the morning included BJP candidate from Leh constituency Chhering Dorjay and Ladakh MP Thupstan Chhewang. Both the BJP leaders casted their votes at Sanker polling station.
In the first-phase of five-phased polls, polling is underway for four seats in Ladakh region, two in Leh district and two in Kargil district.