Seven people were killed and 36 injured during clashes in different areas in Budgam district on Sunday when the by-polls were being conducted for the Srinagar parliamentary seat in Jammu and Kashmir, NDTV reported. The poll turnout was only 6.5%, PTI quoted Chief Electoral Officer Shantmanu as saying.
Separatists have called a two-day state-wide strike from Monday to protest against the killings. Internet services will be suspended across the Kashmir valley till the by-polls for the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat are held on April 12.
Several protestors stormed a polling station in the Charar-e-Sharif area of Budgam district. When they refused to relent, the security forces started firing and burst teargas shells to disperse them, reported Brighter Kashmir. The Border Security Force personnel fired live rounds on the protestors as they were not provided with pump action guns, unidentified officials told PTI.
Protestors pelted stones at security forces and polling staff at two stations in Srinagar parliamentary seats. Similar incidents were reported from other districts as well. The Srinagar parliamentary seat is spread over three districts – Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal.
Only 3.3% of the electorate turned up to exercise their franchise in the first four hours of polling, PTI added. Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the violent situation in Srinagar was a failure on part of the state government, Centre and the Election Commission.
Security was heightened and forces were deployed at more than 1,500 polling stations to ensure there was no disruption on Sunday. All polling stations were either declared sensitive or hyper-sensitive after various separatist groups called for boycott of the by-elections.
The Srinagar seat was held by Tariq Hameed Karra, who resigned from his post protesting against the alleged atrocities by security forces last year in July in the aftermath of the encounter during which Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed. Following his resignation, Karra joined the Congress, but is now campaigning for Abdullah, who is contesting for the seat. PDP’s Nazir Ahmad Khan left the Congress for the ruling party in February.