Voting for the bypolls to the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency of Kashmir began on Sunday. Security was tightened in Srinagar as separatists called for a boycott of the by-election. The bypoll was required as the former PDP leader Tariq Hamid Karra resigned from PDP and Lok Sabha in protest last year against the alleged police atrocity at the height of the Kashmir unrest. National Conference leader and former J&K CM Farooq Abdullah is fighting PDP’s candidate Nazir Ahmad Khan.
All the polling stations have been declared hyper-sensitive by the Election Commission and there has been an internet crackdown in place as a security measure from early hours on Sunday. More than 1,500 polling stations have been set up for nearly 12.61 lakh electorate. Polling began at 7 am and will end at 5 in the evening. As per Greater Kashmir report, a total poll percentage by 11.am was 3.12 % and 39375 votes were polled in Srinagar Parliamentary Constituency.
More than 200 companies of paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and 25 companies of police have been deployed throughout Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts, where the 15 assembly segments comprising the constituency are located.
Meanwhile, firing in five places in Kashmir had been reported. Later it was reported that Petrol bombs hurled at a polling station in Budgam. Three people have been killed and several others injured as clashes erupt between security personnel and civilians near a polling station in Budgam’s Dalwan Pakerpora. Low voter turnout in several places and incidents of stone pelting continue to be reported. There have been reports of stone pelting in at least three places. The BSF opened fire in Pakharpora near Charar-e-Sharif area to quell stone-pelting protesters.
As per Kashmir Reader reports, after severe clashes and attacks on polling centres in central Kashmir’s Budgman district, authorities Sunday called back its staff and wind up polling in the ongoing by-polls of Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency. They added that polling was also stopped and wind up at Kawoosa and Gutpora centres in Budgam district after protesters attacked the staff and centres.
NC president Farooq Abdullah condemning the violence said, “Elections should have been peaceful today, this government has failed in giving a peaceful atmosphere for people to come and vote,”
“I have been a politician for 20 years. I have never seen such a bad situation for elections and campaigning in the state. It is the failure of State Govt, Centre and Election Commission.” said former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.