A firing incident at a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate’s residence and mysterious explosions at two separate places in the Kashmir Valley on Wednesday kept the security guards on tenterhooks ahead of the assembly elections.
“A few rounds were fired at my residence (in Kulgam district). I was in Srinagar to attend a party meeting when the incident occurred. I have been provided security cover now,” said BJP leader Ghulam Hassan Zargar, whose candidature for Kulgam seat, 60 km away from Srinagar, was announced on Tuesday. This is first such attack on any candidate in the Valley.
Jammu and Kashmir is set to witness a five-phase poll for 87 seats, starting November 25.
In South Kashmir’s Kulgam district, a mysterious blast triggered panic when a loud noise occurred near the Sumo Stand of Yaripora area.
People had assembled there to participate in a public meeting to be addressed by Congress candidate Inayatullah Rather.
A Srinagar-based police spokesman said: “We heard sounds, which appeared to be that of gunshots, from an apple orchard. It turned out to be the sounds of firecrackers being burst at two marriage functions held in the neighbourhood. Suspecting it to be an adverse fire, some security personnel fired shots in the air.”
The spokesman also ruled out a militant attack in the north-east district of Ganderbal.
He said: “No explosive substance was found from GMS Bobsipora where a loud noise was heard. It probably was old crude material or a cracker or a pressure cooker.” He added that the bomb disposal squad and army experts had ruled out the presence of explosives.
Two mysterious and accidental blasts turned out to be militant attacks during the parliament polls in May, including one where National Conference president Farooq Abdullah was addressing a rally in Srinagar. Security agencies had admitted to have found traces of explosives days after the incident.
Ahead of the assembly polls the police have picked up dozens of youth — ex-militants to stone throwers — from north and south Kashmir. Inspector general of police AG Mir said: “Twenty nine people were taken into preventive detention in Bandipora district to ensure peaceful polls.” Several top-ranking separatists, including Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik, were detained immediately after the poll dates were announced.
The IGP added: “After analysing the parliamentary elections, all arrangements have been made. The message is loud and clear that nobody shall be allowed to create disturbance.”