Violence continued in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday a day after Srinagar by-polls. Unidentified people set ablaze a school that had been used as a polling station in Shopian’s Padarpora and the local administration suspended train services between Baramulla and Banihal for security reasons. At least eight people died during clashes on Sunday when the by-polls were conducted for the Srinagar parliamentary seat.
After the violence during the by-poll, the state’s ruling People’s Democratic Party has asked for the by-election in Anantnag to be postponed. It is scheduled to take place on April 12.
Six protesters were killed in violence on Sunday at four different locations, while two others succumbed to the injuries they sustained at the clashes later in the evening, according to The Indian Express. The government has decided to suspend internet services across the Valley till the by-elections are over in the state, reported NDTV.
The voter turnout for Sunday’s polling – earlier pegged at 6.5% – was revised to 7.14%, a new low for the constituency. State Chief Electoral Officer Shantmanu had told reporters that it was much lower than the 26% polling percentage in the 2014 elections.
“There were incidents of stone pelting. Petrol bombs were hurled, and a polling booth was set ablaze. EVMs were also damaged in the process, but many of these EVMs were received back,” he said. He added that the Election Commission will decide on “what is to be done in those cases where elections were not concluded”.
Officials believe around 300 people were injured in the clashes between civilians and security forces. Among those who died were a 15-year-old, Faizaan Ahmad Rather, as well as a 17-year-old, Amir Manzoor, according to Hindustan Times. Most of the violence took place in Budgam, where security teams opened fire after a mob attacked the polling station in Dalwan village and tried to stop polling by damaging EVMs. They set a bus on fire and damaged voting machines at other polling stations in Budgam, NDTV reported.
Separatist groups have called for a two-day shutdown in the state starting Monday. Chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said, “The only way for us to express our collective grief at their death and share the sorrow with the bereaved families is to observe a shutdown.” They had earlier called for a boycott of the by-elections in protest against the turmoil in the state.
In response to the civilian deaths, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said, “I am distressed to know that many of those killed were young or teenagers who have yet to understand the intricacies of the issues. This is the time that people of all shades of opinion in the state should come together and help stop this cycle of violence and bloodshed, which unfortunately has plagued Jammu and Kashmir for three decades now,” PTI reported.
The Srinagar seat – spread over the three districts of Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal – was held by Tariq Hameed Karra, who resigned from his post and the Peoples Democratic Party in protest against the alleged atrocities by security forces last July in the aftermath of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.