Blood spill in Srinagar LS by-polls, 6 killed in firing

Poor 6.5% voter turnout betrays nerves as voters chose to give suffrage a miss
Report by: 
Agencies
Srinagar
9 Apr 2017

Violence marred polling in the Srinagar Lok Sabha bye-elections today as six people were killed and several injured in firing by security forces on rampaging mobs in various parts of the constituency, with merely 5.84 per cent voters' turnout recorded till 1500 hours. While two people each were killed Pakherpora in Chrar-e- Sharief and Beerwah areas of Budgam district, one death was reported from Chadoora area of the same district and another in Magam town, which is known as the gateway to Gulmarg. Almost 70 per cent of the polling booths in Budgam district were abandoned by the polling staff due to the spate of violent protests in several areas, officials said. Army was called out to help security forces quell a rampaging mob which pelted stones and hurled petrol bombs to set a polling booth ablaze in the Ganderbal district of the Srinagar constituency. Hundreds of protestors stormed a polling station at Pakherpora in Chrar-e-Sharief area of Budgam district and ransacked a building housing a polling booth, officials said, adding the security forces fired several warning rounds to disperse the mob, which did not relent. Six persons were injured in the firing, of whom two, 20- year-old Mohammad Abbas and 15-year-old Faizaan Ahmad Rather, succumbed to bullet wounds. In another incident, security forces opened fire to quell a stone-pelting mob in Ratxuna Beerwah area, leaving one Nissar Ahmed dead. At the Daulatpura in Chadoora assembly segment of Budgam district, one person, identified as Shabir Ahmed, was killed in firing by security personnel. A youth, Adil Farooq, succumbed to multiple pellet injuries in the Magam town, about 20 kms from here. One Aqib Wani was shot dead as police opened fire on a crowd of protestors in the Beerwah area in the afternoon. The officials said the BSF, deployed for security of the polling stations, fired live rounds as they were not provided with pellet guns. Security force personnel were forced to abandon two polling stations in Chadoora area as they came under heavy stone-pelting by mobs, they said. Violence marred polling in some other parts of the Srinagar parliamentary seat as stone pelting incidents were reported from over two dozen other places across the three districts of Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal which constitute the Srinagar constituency, they said. The voter turnout was abysmally low till 1500 hours with only 5.84 per cent of the 12.61 lakh electorate exercising their franchise, the officials said. Large number of voters in most of the areas chose to give polling a miss, even in places like Ichgam, Maloora and Budgam which have traditionally seen high turnout. Opposition National Conference leaders including its President and candidate, Farooq Abdullah, and his son Omar attacked the Mehbooba Mufti-led J&K government for having completely failed to ensure smooth conduct of the polls. In Chenar area of Ganderbal district, one Mohammed Ramzan Rather and his wife and other villagers faced the wrath of angry protestors when they were on their way to vote. He was rushed to Kangan district hospital with a bleeding head. The nearby locality of Wakura wore a deserted look after crowds pelted stones at security forces in the morning, as securitymen fired several rounds of tear gas shells to disperse the protestors. An abysmally low 6.5 per cent polling was recorded in the bypoll for the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat from where Jammu and Kashmir's former chief minister Farooq Abdullah is contesting. Amid large scale violence, which claimed the lives of six civilians, the prestigious seat recorded a turnout at 6.5 per cent, the state's Chief Electoral Officer Shantmanu told journalists. He said more than 100 security personnel were also injured in the violence. When asked as to how many polling stations he expected repoll to be ordered, the officer said it could be anywhere between 50 and 100 booths or maybe more. Shantmanu said Anantnag Lok Sabha seat in south Kashmir, where bypoll is scheduled for April 12, would pose a "bigger challenge". Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's younger brother Tasaduq Mufti is making his electoral debut from Anantnag. (PTI)