Hurriyat at work on poll-eve
All towns across the Kashmir Valley saw an undeclared curfew from Wednesday morning, as the state geared up to conduct this year’s first poll in the region on Thursday.india Updated: Apr 30, 2009 01:07 IST
All towns across the Kashmir Valley saw an undeclared curfew from Wednesday morning, as the state geared up to conduct this year’s first poll in the region on Thursday.
The two J&K seats that have already voted, Jammu and Udhampur-Doda, lie in the Jammu region. But Anantnag, which votes on Thursday, lies in the Valley, 55 km from Srinagar. With both Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and the Syed Ali Shah Geelani-led factions of the separatist Hurriyat Conference calling upon Kashmiris to boycott the elections, the administration is taking no chances.
Srinagar itself was a town under siege with all roads leading to the city centre, Lal Chowk, sealed. Barricades have been raised at all important junctions, with heavy patrolling by forces everywhere. “The restrictions have been placed to prevent protests by separatists,” said a senior police officer.
Protests against the polls had begun on Tuesday following a 50-hour bandh called by the Geelani faction. Around 20 people were injured in the clashes that followed.
The situation had begun to deteriorate last week after the killing of two political workers — one from NC, the other from PDP — in Tral, one of the 16 assembly segments of the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, allegedly by militants. All political activity in Tral immediately stopped.
In Anantnag, with an electorate of 11.65 lakh, the main contest is between the NC-Congress alliance candidate Mahboob Beg and the PDP’s Peer Mohammed Hussain. The big question is whether, despite the tension, people will still come out to vote on Thursday.