At least eight people were killed and scores injured in clashes between security forces and protesters in various parts of Srinagar Parliamentary constituency that went to poll on Sunday.
The violence-marred polling saw only 6.5% voter turnout, the lowest since the inception of militancy in Kashmir.
“It was not a good day for all of us. There were 200 incidents (of violence) including stone pelting, petrol bomb attacks, one polling booth was set ablaze, there were many arson attempts, many booths were temporary closed, vehicles set ablaze and EVMs were damaged,” said chief electoral officer (CEO) Shanta Manu.
The Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after the resignation of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Tariq Hameed Karra during last year’s unrest following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
Wide spread violence was reported from Budgam area in central Kashmir, which is a part of the three districts voting in the elections - Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal.
Severe clashes were reported from Delwan and Chadoora area where two people lost their lives.
Locals said a group of boys tried to attack a polling station but the security forces opened fire resulting in two casualties. Three others were injured in the incident.
A similar incident was reported in Beerwah area where another person lost his life during the clashes.
Confirming the deaths, DIG central Kashmir GH Bhat said the police was verifying the incidents.
Another person was killed at Kurhama in Ganderbal while two others were injured when security forces opened fire on protestors in Srinagar’s Nowhatta area in the evening.
MLA of Budgam Agha Ruhullah said miscreants attacked most of the polling booths in Beerwah and Budgam.
The violence affected the overall voting percentage. In Kangan and Ganderbal, only two people voted.
In Srinagar district, while some polling booths reported zero polling, traditional high-voting areas like Zadibal and Khanyar witnessed not more than a few percent of votes. Both the areas have been traditional strongholds of the National Conference (NC).
The violence was reported despite stringent security arrangements across the Valley.
Budgam district had earlier witnessed clashes in the run off to the elections. Three civilians were killed when security forces opened fire at a crowd of protestors allegedly throwing stones at troops engaged in a counter-insurgency raid.
For the first time in Kashmir, internet services were suspended during elections.
Blaming the PDP-BJP government for not providing a conducive atmosphere for the polls, NC patron and party’s candidate for Srinagar Farooq Abdullah said, “People fought for this vote. They should have been able to exercise it. There is evidence that the government is trying to obstruct the polling.”
The CEO admitted they would face bigger challenge when Anantnag parliamentary constituency will go to poll on April 12.