South Kashmir's Kulgam district on Thursday literally converted into a battleground between activists of National Conference (NC) and People's Democratic Party (PDP), leaving at least 12 severely injured, while their leaders filed their nominations for the polls.
The clash took place around noon when the number of supporters of the two parties swelled outside the deputy commissioner's house in south Kashmir's Kulgam district, more than 60 km south of Srinagar.
Though the real trigger behind the clash is unknown, eyewitnesses told the Hindustan Times that as soon as NC candidate Sakina Yatoo and PDP candidate Abdul Majeed Paddar went inside the deputy commissioner's office to file nominations for the Noorabad seat, the two groups standing outside started violent attacks against each other.
"The administration had made all arrangements to maintain peace and order but the workers resorted to violence and broke the law. At least 12 persons, including two police officials were injured during the clashes," said Kulgan deputy commissioner Nissar Hussain.
The police fired teargas shells and swung batons to quell the clashing mob. Several men were seen hitting the ground and bleeding as it took time for the security forces to clear the premises of the deputy commissioner.
Station house officer, Kulgam, Irshad Hussain, also received injuries as groups exchanged stones too. A woman was also injured.
"They were attacking each other with an intent to kill," an eyewitness told the HT on the condition of anonymity.
Itoo and Paddar are in for a close contest in the constituency. Once bastion of the NC, the recent parliamentary polls in May saw votes swinging towards the PDP, giving it an edge. This has frustrated the NC supporters.
Noorabad is going to polls on December 2 in the second phase of the five-phase polls for 87-seat assembly.
Three NC candidates from Noorabad, Kulgam and Homshalibug filed their nomination papers on Thursday.
"PDP was facing a severe crisis within the party and a sharp backlash from the public for corruption cases, scams and scandals being unearthed against the party's candidates every passing day," said NC general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar.
The NC has fielded advocate Abdul Majeed Larmi from Homshalibug and Imran Nabi Dar from Kulgam.
"The NC is set to rescue south Kashmir from the clutches of corruption, nepotism and local misrepresentation - all gifts of the PDP to the people of South Kashmir," said the candidates in a joint statement.