Nearly 60% of voters in two districts in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir braved freezing temperatures and threats of violence to take part Saturday in the first local elections in a quarter-century.
There were no reports of violence, and the impressive turnout at the polls was a blow to Muslim separatists who had threatened to attack voters.
“It’s important to show normalcy is returning to Jammu-Kashmir and democracy to the grass-root level,” said the state’s top elected official, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Syed.
More than 96,000 people were eligible to vote in the two border districts of Baramulla and Kupwara. Voting will be held in other districts until Feb. 10.
Separatist groups had called for a boycott. The All Party Hurriyat Conference, a Kashmiri separatist alliance, said the polls were an attempt by New Delhi to show that the region is a legitimate part of India. Two rebel groups had threatened attacks.