Three youths were killed and several injured when security forces opened fire on a stone-pelting mob that stormed a polling station in Budgam district in this Lok Sabha constituency on Sunday, disrupting polling which saw an abysmally low 3.3 per cent turnout till 11 am.
Hundreds of protesters stormed a polling station at Pakherpora in Chrar-e-Sharief area of Budgam district and ransacked the building, officials said.
Security forces fired several warning rounds to disperse the mob which did not relent.
Six persons were injured in the firing, of whom two later succumbed to injuries. Those killed were later identified as 20-year-old Mohammad Abbas and 15-year-old Faizaan Ahmad Rather, the officials said, adding both died of bullet wounds.
In another incident, security forces opened fire to quell a stone-pelting mob in Ratxuna Beerwah area, leaving one Nissar Ahmed dead.
The officials said the BSF, deployed for security of the polling stations, fired live rounds as they were not provided with pellet guns.
Violence marred polling in some other parts of the Srinagar parliamentary seat as polling staff and security force personnel were forced to abandon two polling stations in Chadoora assembly segment as they came under heavy stone-pelting by mobs, the officials said.
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, the officials said.
Representational image. Reuters
The voter turnout has been low so far with only 3.3 percent of the 12.61 lakh electorate exercising their franchise in the first four hours of polling, the officials said.
Even in traditionally high turnout areas like Budgam, Ichgam and Maloora, many voters chose to give polling a miss.
Earlier in the day, miscreants started pelting stones on polling booths in some areas of Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency. Police officials said that in Wakura area of Ganderbal Assembly constituency, a polling station was without electricity and as the Power Development Department linemen tried to rectify the snag, some miscreants pelted stones on them.
Meanwhile, normal life was affected in the three poll-bound districts of the Valley due to a strike called by separatist groups, who have asked people to stay away from the election process.
Most of the shops, fuel stations and other business establishments in the districts of Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal were shut, while public transport was off the roads, the official said.
However, police officials said that few private cars were seen plying in these areas. The government had declared a holiday for today in these three districts.
Nine candidates are in the fray for the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat where more than 1,500 polling stations have been set up for nearly 12.61 lakh electorate.
All the polling stations had been declared as either sensitive or hyper-sensitive keeping in mind threats from various militant outfits and separatist groups, including the Hurriyat Conference, an election official said.
The seat fell vacant following resignation of PDP leader Tariq Hameed Karra, both from the Lower House of Parliament and his party, in protest against the "atrocities" on people
during the agitation in the summer last year in the wake of killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8.
National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, who is the candidate of his party and the Congress jointly, will take on the ruling PDP's candidate Nazir Ahmad Khan in a virtual direct contest.
Abdullah tasted his first electoral defeat in his over 35-year-long political career when he lost to Karra in 2014 general elections. Karra, who has since joined the Congress, is now supporting the National Conference president in the bypolls.
Khan, on the other hand, joined the PDP after quitting the Congress in February and was announced the candidate by the ruling party for the bypolls.
Voter turnout in Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency in 2014 polls was 26 per cent, slightly better than 25.55 per cent recorded in 2009 elections.
The car belonging to Congress candidate for the Ater Assembly bypoll in Madhya Pradesh was vandalised, while two other candidates were beaten up. Congress has accused the BJP of abetting the vandalism. The report also suggested that booth capturing and stone-pelting had taken place during the bypoll in Madhya Pradesh.
However, timely intervention by Madhya Pradesh Police helped bring the situation under control.
Earlier in the day, the Election Commission removed six police officials from Ater after Congress candidate Hemant Katare compalined of them threatening people.
The constituency was in news recently after the media reported that VVPAT was only dispensing slips of BJP symbol during a demonstration exercise. The Election Commission had also sought a detailed report from the district election authorities in Bhind on this issue.
With inputs from PTI
Published Date: Apr 09, 2017 06:19 pm
| Updated Date: Apr 09, 2017 08:10 pm