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Srinagar, November 26, 2014 (Agencies) Around 71 per cent of voters in Jammu and Kashmir braved the winter chill and defied a boycott call by separatists in 15 Assembly constituencies to exercise their franchise peacefully on Tuesday. 

It decided the fate of 123 candidates, including seven ministers, in Jammu and Kashmir, parts of which are still recovering from the floods that ravaged the state in September. However, polling by more than 30 lakh voters in 13 Maoist-infested constituencies in Jharkhand took place amid a few skirmishes, although here too the people defied a boycott call by Left-wing extremists, pegging the turnout at around 62 per cent. This was the first of the five-phase elections in both states. 

Reports of brisk polling were received from the five Assembly constituencies of Kashmir Valley and six Assembly constituencies of Chenab Valley in the Jammu region. Voting in three out of the four Assembly segments in Ladakh was lower than during the general elections earlier this year due to extreme weather conditions. Chief Election Commissioner Umang Narula said the turnout was 70 per cent in the 15 Assembly segments. He said that the polling percentage may increase as details are awaited from some remote areas.

“To ensure polling in various inaccessible areas of the hilly districts, 43 air sorties were carried out,” he said.

He added that the constituencies that went to polls on Tuesday were spread over seven districts, for which as many as 1,787 polling stations were set up at 1,606 locations, including 85 critical and 558 hypersensitive ones.
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