Anantnag bypoll: Voting deferred to 25 May as Kashmir Valley remains turbulent after Srinagar by-election

The Election Commission of India deferred the bypoll to Anantnag Parliamentary constituency to 25 May stating that situation is "not conducive to the holding of free and fair pole in the constituency on 12 April, as scheduled".

Kashmir valley has been in ferment and turbulence after eight young men, including teenaged protesters, were killed in election-day violence in Srinagar. The violence now threatens to spill over to Anantnag, the Lok Sabha seat where by-poll was scheduled on 12 April, PTI reported.

In a notification issued on the EC website, the commission said that the Jammu and Kashmir state administration has "expressed apprehension that there may be violent attempts by some miscreant elements to thwart the polling process in Anantnag constituency" in view of the violent incidents that took place in some parts of the Srinagar parriamentary constituency, where the poll was taken on the 9 April, resulting in some causalities and loss of life.

A PTI report had said that the highway from Srinagar to Anantnag was eerily quiet on Monday, while stone-pelting protesters fought pitched battles with security forces in the bylanes of towns and villages where loudspeakers blared pre-recorded speeches by militants, asking voters not to participate in the 12 April bypoll.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's brother and ruling PDP candidate Tasaduq Mufti had appealed to the Election Commission to postpone the polling till calm returns to the Valley.

Youths throw stones on Security forces during clashes in Srinagar on Sunday. PTI

Youths throw stones on Security forces during clashes in Srinagar on Sunday. PTI

Even though, the poll was deferred finally on Monday, deployment of security personnel, continued throughout the day. The state's Chief Electoral Officer Shantmanu had on Sunday termed election in Anantnag as a "bigger challenge" than Srinagar.

In Pulwama district, one of the worst-hit by militancy, villagers were being warned against voting, officials told PTI.

Foreign militants were allegedly seen roaming the streets freely, issuing threats and vanishing into the nearby forest, they said.

The security establishment, according to official sources, has suggested bringing the number of polling stations down to help provide effective security during the exercise.

Mosques in various places across the constituency, which straddles Pulwama, Anantnag, Kulgam and Shopian districts, are being used by the militants for raising anti-national slogans.

Pre-recorded speeches by militants were being played from these places, in a grim reminder of the days in the aftermath of the killing of Burhan Wani, the young Hizbul Mujahideen commander and posterboy of militancy in the valley. The entire valley had convulsed in seemingly uncontrollable violence in the wake of his death in an encounter for months on end.

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

A shutdown called by separatists has already thrown normal life out of gear. Kashmir University and Islamic University of Science and Technology have postponed all examinations scheduled for today.

Police rounded up 100 odd potential troublemakers in Anantnag constituency.

Rival PDP and Congress candidates stayed away from campaigning on Monday, which was the last day of stumping. While Tasaduq Mufti appealed to the Election Commission to defer the polling, Congress' GA Mir cancelled all his rallies and roadshows slated for Monday.

The state's police chief SP Vaid had held a meeting with senior security officials on Sunday night where he reviewed the arrangements for the poll. Senior state government officials
discussed the situation with EC representatives on Monday.

The commission, in its notification said that it expects the law and order situation in the constifuency to improve and become conducive to the holding of free and fair election by 25 May.

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Updated Date: Apr 10, 2017 22:48:45 IST

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