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Wednesday, 9 October, 2002, 12:50 GMT 13:50 UK
Indian press praises poll turnout
An Indian voter is marked before casting her vote
A voter is marked before voting on Tuesday

Indian newspapers have been euphoric about assembly elections in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Nearly all of them say that official figures for turnout show that the elections were a success.

The participation of an estimated 44% of electors - the figure released by India's Election Commission - in the four-phased elections has been described as the "victory of democracy over terror."

The front page headline of the Pioneer newspaper reads: "Democracy wins series."

An Indian official points a voter in the direction of a polling booth
A voter being directed to a polling booth
Describing Doda district - where the last stage of voting took place - as a "hotbed of militancy", the newspaper said people defied militant threats in the district to record a 52% turnout.

The Hindustan Times said: "Voters refused to be cowed down by a series of militant attacks in Doda district."

Militants had boycotted the polls and even attacked a polling booth in the district on Tuesday.

Echoing a similar view, the Asian Age newspaper said even a suicide strike by militants failed to disrupt the poll process.

Indian-administered Kashmir's police chief, AK Suri, said at least 830 people have been killed in violence since assembly elections were announced in August this year.


The turnout was surprising but not unexpected

Indian Express
A report in The Economic Times entitled: "India wins Kashmir polls," said: "Indian democracy today completed its victory run in Jammu and Kashmir with yet another impressive show of voter turnout in the fourth and final phase of assembly election held across Doda."

The paper also said the voter turnout signals the people's preference for "ballot over bullet" as a means to address the Kashmir issue.

A Indian voter looks at the electronic voting machine trying to figure out how to cast her vote
Electronic voting was used in all polling stations
The Indian Express newspaper says the voters in Doda have sent a "clear signal to militant groups - and Pakistan - that fear would not deter them from exercising their democratic rights."

"The turnout was surprising but not unexpected," the newspaper said.

According to The Statesman newspaper the "holding of free and fair elections in the state has been a tough challenge amid militant threats."

Another headline in the newspaper read: "Ultras dare, Doda undaunted."

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03 Oct 02 | South Asia
01 Oct 02 | South Asia
24 Sep 02 | South Asia
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