Two mysterious explosions rocked ruling National Conference's (NC) poll campaigns in Kashmir on Sunday. One explosion occurred just minutes before NC's Srinagar parliament seat candidate Farooq Abdullah was to address a rally in the old city.
Around 11:30, a loud noise at the boundary wall of the venue, which is a school, spread scare among the supporters of Abdullah, who is also Union minister for new and renewable energy. The impact of the mysterious explosion, according to eyewitnesses, was obvious on the compound wall, facing an alley.
The loud explosion took place just metres away from where Abdullah later addressed the people. Most participants suspected it to be a grenade blast as security personnel rushed to the spot and sealed the entire area.
However, chief minister Omar Abdullah and the state police refuted that it was a militant attack. "There was ‘No’ blast at the venue of Dr Abdullah's election rally in Srinagar. There was a sound that was heard in the distance (sic)," wrote the chief minister on Twitter.
After the CM's statement, the police were mum over the "loud noise" and claimed to have sent an expert team to ascertain the nature of the blast.
Unfazed by the incident, Abdullah went ahead and made a speech to his supporters in the highly-volatile Khanyar area. "Life and death are in the hands of the Almighty. Farooq Abdullah is not scared of these bombs," said senior Abdullah.
"I want to forewarn that if a communal government comes to power at the centre, Kashmir will not remain the part of the country," he added. He also targeted opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for its "alliance with the BJP".
In central Kashmir's Budgam district, another mysterious blast near the NC rally's venue was witnessed at Magam. Police said three people were injured in the blast. "We are ascertaining the nature of the blast," said police spokesman Manoj Sheeri.
So far, the police sources claimed the blast could be a result of a battery lying there.
These mysterious explosions have come in the wake of heightened militancy in the valley. In the run up to the polls in south Kashmir's Anantnag constituency recently, militants killed six people, including sarpanches and policemen. Militant violence and separatists boycott call had poll percentage around 28 percent there.
"While I have no doubt that an effort will be made to derail the electoral process, these violent forces will not be allowed to succeed. What's the point of issuing a poll boycott call if you can't terrorise people into obeying it," wrote the chief minister on Twitter.
Meanwhile, opposition PDP patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed accused the NC of enforcing boycott. "The NC is using boycott call of separatists for its benefit. Boycott was selectively enforced in Anantnag parliamentary constituency recently, giving credence to the apprehensions that NC wanted to use the call as it had done in Srinagar in the last elections,” said Mufti.
Srinagar, which is going for polls on April 30, is set to see a battle between NC's Abdullah and PDP's Tariq Hameed Karra.