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Broadband internet services restored in Kashmir, EC announces repolling in 38 stations on April 13

The Election Commission announced re-voting in 38 polling stations in the parliamentary constituency straddling Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts on April 13.

india Updated: May 26, 2017 07:19 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Broadband services,Kashmir,Election Commission
A paramilitary soldier guards at a check point during a strike in Srinagar. Businesses and schools shut in the disputed region on Monday in response to a separatists' call to protest the killing of eight civilians by government forces during a weekend by-election, officials said. (AP Photo)

Broadband internet services resumed after two days in the restive Kashmir Valley on Tuesday, though the region remained shut in response to a separatist strike over the killing of eight people in this weekend’s Srinagar bypoll violence.

But mobile internet services were yet to be restored.

Businesses and educational institutions were closed for the second consecutive day in Kashmir. Roads were deserted; security checkpoints and pickets dotted every neighbourhood, and only a handful of people ventured out in the curfew-like nervous calm.

The Election Commission announced re-vote in 38 polling stations in the parliamentary constituency straddling Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts on April 13.

Jammu and Kashmir chief electoral officer Shantmanu said these stations are mainly in Budgam district, where most of the violent clashes were reported.

“In 33 polling stations, electronic voting machines were snatched and damaged … hence not usable now. And in another five, zero polling was reported as voters could not reach booths because of the violence,” he said.

He explained that repolling was ordered for Thursday despite the tense situation because by-elections must be held in the Srinagar constituency before April 16.

Polls should be held within six months of a Lok Sabha seat falling vacant. In Srinagar, the bypoll was necessitated after Tariq Hameed Karra, an MP of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), resigned in mid-September last year when a massive public unrest engulfed Kashmir over the killing of a young militant leader.

Mobs disrupted Sunday’s vote, throwing stones and petrol bombs at security forces, in reaction to a separatist call to boycott the by-elections in Srinagar and Anantnag. The violence prompted authorities to suspend internet services in the region.

The poll panel postponed the Anantnag bypoll from April 12 to May 25 because of the rough situation.

Besides, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s brother and the PDP’s candidate for Anantnag, Tasaduq Mufti, told reporters that the state government had written to the poll panel that elections couldn’t be held in the current climate of unrest.

Jailed separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah said in a statement that “people’s rejection of so-called parliamentary polls” was a referendum against India.

“The people of Jammu Kashmir by rejecting the sham polls have sent a clear message to the world that they won’t accept anything less than freedom.”

The Srinagar bypoll recorded a 7.14% voter turnout, the lowest in three decades.

The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), another separatist group, said its chairman Yasin Malik has been remanded in jail for five more days. He was arrested on March 18.

First Published: Apr 11, 2017 18:35 IST