Did police help push poll boycott figures?

  • Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Apr 24, 2014 23:14 IST

The massive crackdown, in which more than 100 "mischief mongers" - police term used for separatist's supporters, were arrested on the eve of polls from the volatile twin-districts of Shopian and Kulgam did fuel poll boycott.

Since the past two days, more than 50 youth were allegedly arrested from Shopian, fuelling stone-throwing from the sympathisers, turning the situation hostile for prospective voters.

"The police entered out houses last night and broke our window panes. Several huts were set afire by teargas shells. Even those who wanted to vote could not because of the scare created by them," said a resident of Weil village in Shopian district pleading anonymity fearing reprisal from the police.

He alleged the local station house officer threatened them not "to make their lives miserable." "The police threatened us not to issue passport nor ration cards in case they protests against the arrests spree of the youth," he alleged.

Similarly, Kulgam district, which had a favourable wave towards the People's Democratic Party (PDP), also saw random arrests, including brothers and relatives of known stone-thrower, who had participated in the 2008, 09 and 10 street agitations.

"Why did the police carry out arrests only a day before the polls? Why not a fortnight before the polls to offer a cooling off period for others?" asked Zubair Ahmad, a prospective voter in Shopian.

PDP spokesperson Naeem Akhtar sees a design in the police action. "We had apprehensions that our rivals will use other means to shoo away voters in areas where we expected healthy voting in our favour. Shopian and Kulgam are glaring examples where the police excesses kept voters away," alleged Akhtar.

Shopian's Wachi, home constituency of PDP's Mehbooba Mufti, too bore the brunt of the poll boycott and rising tension. Only 12% votes were polled in the Wachi assembly segment.

The twin districts of Shopian and Kulgam witnessed only 20.43 and 36.68 poll percentage at the end of the violent day, which left two dozen injured, including security personnel.

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