Those who could not cast their votes earlier out of fear, posted pics of their inked fingers on social media on May 13 in Srinagar---marking clearly how people participated enthusiastically in the 4th phase of just concluded parliamentary elections in Kashmir
What happened on May 13, 2024, was spectacular in the electoral history of Kashmir as for the first time in the past over two decades, the Valley logged its highest polling percentage. Nearly 38% of the total registered voters cast their votes in Srinagar compared to 14.43% during the last parliamentary polls in 2019.

Jammu and Kashmir’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) P.K. Pole said the percentage would go up further after the postal ballots data is factored in.

Srinagar was among the 96 seats that voted in Phase 4 of Lok Sabha elections across the country.

The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has five Lok Sabha seats – two in Jammu and three in Kashmir. The two seats in Jammu division – Udhampur and Jammu – voted in the first phase on April 19. The Kashmir region has three seats – Srinagar, which voted on May 13, Baramulla in North and Anantnag-Rajouri in South, which will vote on May 20 and May 25 respectively.

Another indication of the tectonic shift in Kashmir’s participation in India’s democratic process was that there was not even a single polling booth that witnessed zero % polling this time. The Election Commission reported this fact with great pride while addressing the press after voting was over.

Prior to 2019, there were many areas of the Kashmir Valley which used to record zero polling. A senior journalist in Srinagar revealed how it used to work earlier. “The zero polling areas used to be those areas where killings used to happen whenever elections were announced. Terrorism was a convenient tool for some anti-India forces before 2019 – they used to create fear among voters of these areas so that they could not dare to move out to cast their votes. So, some polling stations would record zero voting. Voting in other polling stations used to be ‘managed’ so as to favour a particular candidate,” he said.

However, the situation has changed now. “People voted in large numbers here. We are thankful to each and every person involved in making this democratic process a success. There was no polling station that witnessed zero per cent polling. No law-and-order incident was reported anywhere,” Jammu and Kashmir’s Chief Electoral Officer P.K. Pole said.

The historic participation of voters combined with the fact that the entire poll process – from candidate registration to campaigning to voting was completely violence free, made the 2024 Lok Sabha elections memorable and outstanding in the context of Kashmir.


The volatile old-city areas of Srinagar city and areas such as Budgam, Ganderbal, Tral, Pulwama and Shopian used to register very low voter turnout during earlier elections. At the time of culmination of polling, Assembly Segment wise tentative voter turnout in Ganderbal was recorded as 49.48%, Tral 40.29%, Pulwama 43.39%, and Shopian 47.88%.

The gross voter turnout recorded in the past few elections for the Srinagar constituency, as per the CEO office, was 14.43% in 2019, 25.86% in 2014, 25.55% in 2009, 18.57 % in 2004, 11.93 % in 1999, 30.06 % in 1998, 40.94 % in 1996, no election was held in 1991 due to turmoil and 1989 remained uncontested.

The nullification of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, and the ensuing peace and development have created an atmosphere of confidence among the people of Kashmir.

This proactive participation of people in Kashmir was a stark contrast to previous dismal voter turnouts. Even the downtown areas of Srinagar, which had seen no votes in many stations during the 2019 elections, witnessed a turnout of 25.68 % in the Eidgah locality, previously a hub for poll boycott.

Special arrangements were in place to accommodate all voters, including the elderly and women, with all polling stations under CCTV surveillance to ensure a safe and transparent voting process.

“Abdul Rehman Khan, a 96-year-old man from Nunner Ganderbal, has turned up to a polling station on Monday morning to participate in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections,” a local media outlet reported in its live updates on the day of polling. “Amid enthusiasm, long queues of voters have turned to polling stations in the Kashmir valley to cast their votes during the fourth phase of the 18 Lok Sabha elections in India,” the report further said.

Notably, the large number of voters’ participation in the polls shows people’s trust in the electoral process. It points towards a positive social atmosphere; it also speaks of ongoing efforts to bring peace and progress in Jammu and Kashmir.

***The writer is a senior journalist who is known for her wide knowledge about J&K; views expressed here are her own