EC difers Anantnag bypoll to May 25

The Election Commission on Monday postponed the polling for the by-election in Anantnag parliamentary constituency in Jammu and Kashmir by nearly one-and-a-half month.

The Anantnag bypoll is scheduled for April 12.

National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah replied that if the EC postpones the election, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti - Tassaduq's sister - should resign, because it would be an indictment of her failure to maintain peace in the state.

At least eight civilians were killed and scores injured in firing by security forces as mobs tried to attack polling stations in Srinagar parliamentary constituency during Sunday's by-poll, which saw just seven percent balloting.

The MHA's revelations came at a time when ruling PDP too has demanded that the by-polls should be rescinded because of the low-turnout.

Responding to reports that the Union Home Ministry had advised against polls in Jammu and Kashmir in view of the current security situation, Election Commission (EC) sources said the electoral body was not bound to consult the Ministry for the conduct of elections.

When asked whether poll boycott was a moral victory for separatists, he said, "How can you give credit to anyone who curtails anyone's freedom?"

The poll panel officials countered that the commission assesses the prevailing situation for holding elections. "Now when the ECI had decided the political parties had no option other than to follow the order", he said. The schools were set afire by miscreants in Shopian and Pulwama districts in south Kashmir, police said on Monday.

Two government schools designated as polling stations for Wednesday's bypoll were set afire in the fresh spiral of violence in Anantnag.

"Decades of hard work to build trust in the democratic process in Kashmir reversed in less than three years by the BJP government", said Gandhi on his official Twitter account.

Security remains tight and the Valley has been turned into a fortress.

On Sunday, eight people died in clashes with security forces as violence marred by-election for the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat.

Markets, public transport, educational institutions and other businesses were closed in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, and other parts of the troubled valley, officials and residents said.

  • Leroy Wright