Not bound to consult Home Ministry on J&K polls, say EC sources

Chief Electoral Officer, J&K Shantmanu today convened an all party meeting on the issue of holding bye-elections to 3-Anantnag Parliamentary constituency and to discuss issues related to bye-polls held in Srinagar including re-poll at various polling stations affected by violence. After the violence, internet services have been suspended in entire Kashmir Valley till Anantnag by-polls are over.

In the Charare-e-Sharif area of Budgam two people were killed when the paramilitary Border Security Force fired at protesters, he said.

They claimed they had conveyed to the Election Commission that there is an atmosphere of fear and that could have an impact on the turnout. This is being seen as one of the reasons why the security forces were unable to assess the situation correctly as the violence erupted in places which traditionally saw long queues of peaceful voters on election day.

Earlier on Monday, two government schools designated as polling stations for Anantnag bypoll were set on fire and prohibitory orders imposed in Budgam and Ganderbal districts.

This time, the state government and New Delhi have failed to address the concerns of the people and I blame Mehbooba Mufti for failing to be our spokesperson, ' former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said.

"You can not force people to vote and you can not force people not to vote", Tassaduq said, adding that democracy should not lead to killing of people.

At least eight people died during clashes on Sunday when the by-polls were conducted for the Srinagar parliamentary seat.

He added that over 200 cases of violent protests were reported in the poll-bound areas, and only 80,000 voters came to cast their vote out of 1.26 million registered. "The government had told the EC that the situation is not right to conduct polls", Mufti said. "Tassaduq's statement is an indictment of his sister @MehboobaMufti's government and its abject failure".

Markets, public transport, educational institutions and other businesses were closed in Srinagar and other parts of the troubled valley. A second by-election in the state is set to take place on April 12 in Anantnag. This unimagined, unanticipated violence left eight people dead and injured more than 100. The security men fired tear smoke shells and resorted to baton charge to disperse the stone pelting youth.

  • Leroy Wright