Militants chop off ears to scare away voters

Published on Apr 22, 2004 02:34 AM IST

Militants chopped off the ears of two village elders in Jammu and Kashmir to warn people against voting in the ongoing elections, the police said.

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PTI | ByArun Joshi and IANS, Jammu

Militants chopped off the ears of two village elders in Jammu and Kashmir to warn people against voting in the ongoing elections, the police said.

The incident occurred in a remote and hilly village in Udhampur district, about 150 km north of Jammu.

The militants abducted village elders Hajji Amma Kala and Missruddin from Kalwa village late on Tuesday evening and chopped off their ears after severely beating them.

The militants then took the elders back to Kalwa and showed their chopped ears to terrified residents, warning they could face a worse fate if they participated in the elections to the Udhampur Lok Sabha seat to be held on May 10, the police said.

The militants also took away with them election material of different political parties, including posters.

Kalwa and adjoining areas like Mahore, part of the Udhampur constituency, are filled with militants.

Separatist groups have called for a boycott of elections to the six Lok Sabha seats in the state spread over four phases.

In the first phase of the polls in the state on Tuesday, there was widespread violence. Three people, including a freelance journalist, died and several injured as militants targeted 11 polling stations in Baramulla and Jammu, two of the state’s six Lok Sabha constituencies where elections were held on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, at least 11 people were injured when militants lobbed a grenade on a campaign vehicle of an independent candidate from Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency in south Kashmir, official sources said.

Unidentified ultras lobbed the grenade on the campaign vehicle of Ghulam Mohiuddin Dar around 4 p.m. in Pulwama district but it missed the intended target and exploded on the roadside, wounding 11 pedestrians, they said.

Dar was not travelling in the vehicle, the sources said. None of the persons engaged in the campaigning were among the injured.

Police assisted by security forces immediately cordoned off the area and shifted the injured to hospital, they said. No militant outfit has so far claimed responsibility for the explosion.

The high level of violence has surprised and shocked officials.

Finance minister Muzzaffar Hussein Beg, who survived an assassination attempt in Uri earlier in the month, was targeted again in Baramulla on Tuesday.

Reacting to the latest attempt on him, Beg said: "I thought these snakes had got buried or they had gone into hiding. But they have shocked us by their re-emergence and their poisonous bites". He is convinced that these forces were trying to disrupt the poll and peace process with the objective of scaring away voters.

National Conference chief Omar Abdullah, who too was targeted on Tuesday, blamed the state government for the abortive attack. He alleged that the government had taken a "casual attitude" regarding his security.

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