EC discusses violence, poor voter turnout in Kashmir bypolls
Jammu and Kashmir chief electoral officer Shantmanu called a meeting with political parties on Monday to know their opinion about the April 12 by-election to the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat.india Updated: Apr 11, 2017 10:57 IST
Jammu and Kashmir chief electoral officer Shantmanu called a meeting with political parties on Monday to know their opinion about the April 12 by-election to the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, after large-scale violence marred voting in the Srinagar bypoll this weekend.
Moreover, there also has been a demand to cancel the Srinagar bypoll that left eight people dead and scores wounded. Sunday’s voter turnout was 7.14%, the lowest in three decades.
The meeting was called after a request from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to postpone the Anantnag bypoll to avoid a repeat of the Srinagar violence.
Tasaduq Mufti, the brother of chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and the PDP candidate for Anantnag, told reporters that the state government had formally written to the poll panel that elections couldn’t be held in the current climate.
But the opposition National Conference and the Congress argued that it was too late now to defer the Anantnag bypoll.
NC leader Akbar Lone said the credibility of the Election Commission is at stake, and warned that another round of widespread violence will engulf the insurgency-hit state if the Srinagar by-election was cancelled.
Congress leaders Usman Majid and GN Monga accused the PDP of mounting pressure on the Election Commission to postpone the bypolls.
PDP’s Waheed Parra responded that the party is seeking votes, not lives of people.
Time should be given for the situation to calm down and his party is ready to go for fresh elections in Srinagar, he said.
The violence followed a separatist call to boycott the by-elections, saying the situation is not right to hold a democratic exercise after last year’s unprecedented public unrest that left more than 80 people dead and hundreds wounded or maimed.
People took to the streets to enforce the boycott across the constituency straddling Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts. Polling staff abandoned almost 70% of booths in Budgam district. Army was called out to help security forces put out the protests as mobs threw stones and petrol bombs.
First Published: Apr 10, 2017 18:58 IST