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Lok Sabha polls: J&K's Baramulla sees highest voter turnout in over 4 decades

NEW DELHI: Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency in Jammu and Kashmir witnessed a remarkable voter turnout of over 54% in phase 5 of elections that concluded on Monday, marking its highest polling percentage in nearly four decades.

The overall turnout of 54.21% (which may be revised by the Election Commission later) is second only to the 58.84% recorded in 1984.

Voters flocked to polling stations, expressing their satisfaction with the improved security situation and the diminishing influence of separatist-sponsored boycott calls that had been prevalent for the past three decades.

The voters saw this electoral exercise, the first major one in the Union Territory following the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, as an opportunity to express their opinions on the developments in the region over the past five years.

"The situation has improved and fear faded and that is a good omen for democracy. The people mostly did not vote in the past due to the threat to their lives but, this time, brisk voting is taking place without interference from any quarters," said Abdul Ahad Bhat, a local of Soibugh.

Soibugh, located in the Budgam district of central Kashmir and part of the Baramulla constituency, is the hometown of Syed Sallahuddin, the Pakistan-based leader of the banned terror group Hizbul Mujahideen. National Conference leader Omar Abdullah is among the 22 candidates contesting in this constituency.

Voters highlighted unemployment and increased power bills as some of the major issues they face.

Mohammad Yawar, a voter, mentioned that since Jammu and Kashmir has been governed by the Lt Governor-led administration for over five years without an elected government, people have been unable to voice their concerns effectively.

Yawar also noted that people in the Valley have been "dumbstruck" following the abrogation of Article 370, and this election provides them with an opportunity to choose a leader who can listen to their concerns and address their issues.
(With inputs from agencies)