Srinagar: Anantnag polls doubtful, RK Nagar cancelled

A man, holding a baby, seeks permission to move forward during restrictions following a strike call given by separatists in protest against killing of eight civilians in poll violence, in Srinagar.

Separatist factions in Kashmir had called for a boycott of the by-polls, resulting in heightened security and low voter turnout when the polling began.

The by-election for Kashmir's Anantnag constituency, which was due on April 12, has been pushed back to May 25, the Election Commission today said, accepting the state government's request for a deferment.

The by-poll to the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency - spread across three districts of Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal - was marred by widespread violence on Sunday with the police claiming that almost 200 incidents of violent protests took place in central Kashmir.

He said that while there were no curbs imposed in the summer capital here, security forces have been deployed in strength at sensitive places across the city to prevent any untoward incident. "You can't force people to vote and can't force them not to vote", said Tassaduq, the brother of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. Elections will be held in three more states on April 12. Encounters, protests and killing of civilians did not stop this year after the 2016 unrest.

A government middle school, also a designated polling booth in Shopian's Padarpora was set ablaze by unidentified people.

Most poll related violence occurred in Budgam district where authorities have ordered re-polling at 38 stations on Thursday.

"Have contested six elections over 20 years and have never seen this level of violence in elections in Kashmir", Abdullah tweeted.

Only 6.5%of voters turned out to cast their ballot, Shantmanu said, the lowest ever participation recorded in any election in the disputed territory. "EVMs were also damaged in the process, but many of these EVMs were received back", he said, adding that the Election Commission will decide on "what is to be done in those cases where elections were not concluded".

  • Leroy Wright