"The voters wore their traditional dresses to the polling stations."
Baramulla/Leh, May 7 - Defying a separatist call for poll boycott and unfazed by a guerrilla attack, voters in Baramulla pushed up balloting, and in Ladakh recorded brisk polling as the two Lok Sabha constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir Wednesday went to the polls.

Voter turnout in the first four hours in three districts of Baramulla was ranging from 10 to 20 percent, officials said.

Long queues were seen in Hajin, Dangerpora, Malroo and Nesbal villages in the Sumbal assembly segment despite fears that voters might prefer to stay away from polling stations, heeding a boycott call of the separatists.

Voters also lined up at many places in Handwara, Karnah and Kupwara assembly segments of Kupwara district by noon. In Pattan, Gulmarg, Baramulla, Sangrama and Sopore segments, however, voting is yet to pick up as less than four percent balloting was recorded by noon.

In Baramulla town, where the poll authorities have clustered 11 polling stations of old town for law and order reasons, just 14 votes were cast by noon. Baramulla town is a strong bastion of the hardline separatist leader, Syed Ali Geelani, who has given a poll boycott call in the Kashmir Valley.

In Sopore town Tuesday night, three paramilitary troopers, including an assistant commandant, were injured when militants attacked a Central Reserve Police Force camp.

The main contest in Baramulla is between the ruling National Conference candidate, Sharief-ud-Din Shariq who is seeking re-election, and Muzaffar Hussain Baig of the regional Peoples Democratic Party -.

There are 13 other candidates in the fray, but prominent among them are Engineer Rashid, a sitting Jammu and Kashmir legislator, and Salamuddin Bajad, a tribal Gujjar fielded by the Peoples Conference - headed by Sajad Gani Lone.

There are 11.89 lakh voters in Baramulla constituency. In the 2009 elections, 41.84 percent votes were polled here.

Queues of voters, both men and women, could be seen even before the voting started at 7 a.m. at the Goma polling station in Kargil district of Ladakh's Lok Sabha constituency.

Kargil registered 26 percent voter turnout by noon while 15 percent voters exercised franchise in Leh district. These are the two districts constituting the Ladakh Lok Sabha constituency. People also turned up early in the morning in Nubra and Zanskar assembly segments of Ladakh.

In a housing colony polling station in Leh town, 150 votes were cast by 12 noon out of 257 listed. In another polling station set up inside the housing colony in Leh, 304 voters out of 600 exercised their democratic right by midday.

In 2009 elections, 71.86 percent votes were polled in Ladakh.

Poll officials, some of whom spoke to IANS, said they are expecting the poll percentage to increase further this time given the enthusiasm of the voters.

They have turned out in large numbers to cast their votes. We expect the poll percentages to cross the 2009 figure this time, said Ghulam Ahmad, an assistant returning officer in Leh district.

The voters wore their traditional dresses to the polling stations.

As many as 1.59 lakh voters get to decide the fate of four candidates for the Lok Sabha in Ladakh. They are Tsering Samphal of the Congress, Thupstan Chhewang of the Bharatiya Janata Party and two Independents, Ghulam Raza and Sayed Mohammad Kazim.


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