The last leg of the five-phased Lok Sabha polls in Jammu and Kashmir today saw enthusiasm prevailing over separatist-sponsored boycott calls and militant threats, as youth and first-time voters turned out in good numbers to exercise their franchise.
The Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency in north Kashmir –- spread over three districts of Baramulla, Bandipora and Kupwara -- which went to polls today along with Ladakh, is expected to record a polling percentage higher than what was witnessed in the earlier two phases in the Valley.
Though there was an effect of boycott in Baramulla district particularly in the famous Apple township of Sopore, many polling stations in other areas like Handwara, Langate and Kupwara witnessed brisk polling.
The electorate, including youths and women, had come out to vote early in the morning and waited patiently in lines for their turn. The enthusiasm was especially high among the youths and more so among the first-time voters who said "they were feeling excited" to get their fingers inked.
Proudly displaying their voter slips and inked fingers after casting their votes, the youth said it was "essential" to vote for making their lives better.
"It is very essential to vote in a democracy. And only this way (by voting) can we get rid of our problems like unemployment and mis-governance," Tahir Ahmad, a young voter in Mawar area of Langate in Kupwara district, said.
Langate is the bastion of firebrand Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rahsid, who represents the segment in the Assembly.
Most of the youngsters in the area said they had come out to vote for "Engineer", as Rashid is popularly known.
"We have come out in support of Engineer as we think even one vote can make a difference. He is the only leader who talks about us," another voter, who identified himself as Hilal Ahmad, said.