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Record voter turnout in Kashmir valley shows massive improvement in the situation after the abrogation of Article 370, PM Modi calls it a great trend

Srinagar experienced 38.49% voting in 2024 which was remarkably higher than 14.43% in 2019, Baramulla recorded an impressive 59.10% in 2024, up from 34.6% in 2019, and Anantnag-Rajouri rose to 54.46% after only 8.9% in 2019

The revocation of Article 370 in 2019 brought about a radical transformation for the union territory which has been making the headlines for all the right reasons lately. Now, as India is undergoing a massive electoral process in the form of the Lok Sabha election, Kashmir has once again grabbed the attention of the nation with its highest voter turnout in decades as it joined in the greatest celebration of democracy. As per the latest data issued by the election commission, the voting percentage in the valley has seen a major spike since the last general election indicating the fervor with which people engaged in the most powerful form of self-expression and demonstrated their belief in the Indian democracy.

Jammu and Kashmir has five parliamentary seats including Baramulla, Srinagar, Anantnag-Rajouri, Udhampur and Jammu. The polling was conducted in five phases from 19th April to 25th May. Notably, while Udhampur and Jammu witnessed a minor dip in the voting percentage, the other three constituencies performed exceedingly well with their unprecedented participation in the general election. Udhampur recorded 68.27% in 2024 as compared to 70.15% in 2019, Jammu stood at 72.22% in 2024 while it had 72.5% in 2019.

However, the other three seats surprised everyone as Srinagar experienced 38.49% voting in 2024 which was remarkably higher than 14.43% in 2019, Baramulla recorded an impressive 59.10% in 2024, up from 34.6% in 2019 and Anantnag-Rajouri rose to 54.46% after only 8.9% people voted in Anantnag in the last general election.

Voting numbers are better in Jammu but a very positive development is that it is about twice as high as it was in 2019 in Kashmir. Notably, Baramulla surpassed its 1996 record of 46.65%. Along with a large number of women, relatives of terrorists and members of the outlawed Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) cadres showed up to cast their votes, presenting a stunning image of the beneficial shift in the once violence-infested valley. Likewise, Srinagar achieved its highest voter turnout in twenty-six years.

The situation at the Baramulla district’s Sopore was quite distinct from previous years when a small group of voters would cautiously approach vacant polling places. The biggest turnout in three decades was noted in Sopore from 4.3 % in 2019 to 44.2% this year. It is important to remember that the place is the hometown of prominent separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and a stronghold of the JeI. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also lauded the people of Baramulla for their commitment to democracy.

Additionally, the Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seat observed the largest percentage of voters in forty years who came out to exercise their right to cast a ballot, shattering previous records. The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Jammu and Kashmir, Pandurang Kundbarao Pole, told reporters in Srinagar that 53% of voters cast ballots in Anantnag-Rajouri and 58% of voters exercised their franchise for the five Lok Sabha constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir. He added, “It is the highest turnout for these five seats in the last 40 years. The previous high was 49% recorded in 2014, while the turnout in 1996 was 47.99%.”

According to him, the Surankote, Rajouri, and Budhal Assembly segments had the highest turnout at 68% and with 32%, the Kulgam Assembly segment scored the lowest results. He pointed out that there had been no reports of violence throughout the polling, which was largely peaceful. Elections in the Lok Sabha constituency, which consists of 18 Assembly segments dispersed among the five districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian, Poonch, and Rajouri, went off without a hitch, according to officials, with the exception of a minor incident in Bijbehara.

Pulwama district and the Shopian Assembly sector were taken away from the south Kashmir Lok Sabha seat during a delimitation exercise in Jammu and Kashmir in 2022, while seven Assembly segments from Poonch and Rajouri were added. “The people of Jammu and Kashmir, in the Anantnag-Rajouri polling too, have reposed faith in democracy and proved naysayers wrong,” the Election Commission highlighted in a statement.

Furthermore, the Election Commission made it possible for Kashmiri migrant voters living in several relief camps in Delhi, Jammu and Udhampur to cast ballots by mail or in person at designated polling places. There were four special polling places in Delhi, one in Udhampur, and twenty-one in Jammu.

The tremendous success of the general election has confirmed the dynamic shift in the mindset of the populace post-219. This was the first major election in the Union Territory following the abrogation of Article 370 and it served as a testament to showcase the thriving positive evolution that has seeped into the valley after the special status was gone. Voters went out in force from towns and villages that had been denied voting rights for a long time because of demands for a boycott spearheaded by separatists and fears of terrorism. Interestingly, these voting numbers came amid claims of low voter turnout in other parts of India.

The fact that no separatist organization had called for a protest against the election was a first in the previous thirty years, which also contributed to the increase in votes. The separatists, who once claimed to be the self-appointed leaders of the valley as they were in co-hoots with the anti-India elements, have been rendered toothless due to the policies of the Modi government. Kashmir has ushered into a new dawn of progress and advancement which was not even fathomable before the end of Article 370 as it was used as an instrument to create divisions and alienate it from the rest of India. Now, as no such barrier exists, Kashmir is able to exercise and experience complete democratisation.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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