Srinagar, Oct 23: Parts of the city were placed under strict restrictions on Tuesday to thwart the rally to Lal Chowk called by the Joint Hurriyat Leadership in protest against the civilian killings at Kulgam.
Fearing protests, the authorities had imposed restrictions in Srinagar parts and suspended the movement of traffic on the stretch between Regal Chowk and Amira Kadal.
In the morning, the internet speed was choked in the city, while in south Kashmir it continued to remain completely suspended since Sunday.
Schools and colleges too remained closed in several districts on government orders.
Authorities sealed the commercial hub of Lal Chowk here to prevent the march.
Barricades were erected by the police at Amira Kadal and the Regal Chowk to prevent any movement towards the Clock Tower.
The protest rally had been called by the resistance leadership on the second day of protests against the killing of seven civilians at an encounter site at Kulgam in south Kashmir.
The JKLF Chief, Yasin Malik, who was in hiding to evade arrest, appeared in Lal Chowk in the morning attempting to carry out the march called by the Joint Hurriyat.
He was arrested soon after.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was arrested outside his Nigeen residence when he tried to organise a march.
Authorities also stopped leaders and workers of the mainstream parties who too attempted marching in mourning against the civilian killings.
National Conference leaders Ali Muhammad Sagar, Nasir Aslam Wani, Mustafa Kamal, Akbar Lone, and SakeenaItoo were part of the protest march, which was taken out from the party’s Nawah-e-Subh complex here.
“Government of India must put an immediate end to the brutal killing of civilian and initiate dialog process to resolve the Kashmir issue,” Sagar told the media persons.
Later, police detained many NC workers, not allowing them to march towards Lal Chowk.
Business community, under the banner of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), staged a march at Lal Chowk
“KCCI condemns the human right violations and calls upon the world human right organizations to highlight the atrocities faced by Kashmiris,” said KCCI senior vice-president, Nasir Hamid Khan.
Kashmir Traders and Manufactures federation led by Yasin Khan too took out a protest march through Residency road and staged a sit-in at Regal Chowk where police had erected a barricade.
Although there were no reports of clashes happening in any part of the valley, Army, as per reports, resorted to aerial firing after they were pelted with stones in Chadoora area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
Reports said an army party was moving through Wathoora village when it was pelted with stones by some youth.
The army men, reports added, fired several shots in air to chase away the protesting youth.
A spontaneous shutdown was observed in all four districts of south Kashmir.
Bijbehara: 40 polling booths with zero votes
Bijbehara, Apr 23: Home turf of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, the Bijbehara assembly segment under the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, reported highest concentration of polling stations where zero votes were cast.
Among the 65 booths in Anantnag where zero votes were cast, 40 were located in Bijbehara, one of the six assembly constituencies where voting took place in the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections Tuesday.
People cast their votes in 714 polling stations in Anantnag. Bijbehara, the home constituency of PDP president Mufti, had 120 polling booths set up for a population of 93,289 people.
A total of 1,893 electorate or 2 per cent exercised their franchise when the polling ended at 4 pm. The voting time for the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat was reduced in view of security considerations. The Baramulla Lok Sabha seat, where voting took place in the first phase, saw 17 polling stations with zero while the Srinagar Parliamentary seat, which went to polls in the second phase, recorded zero votes in 90 booths.
Polling in Anantnag, which has 16 assembly seats, has been divided into three phases. The first phase was completed on Tuesday while remaining two will be held on April 29 and May 6. The decision for staggered polling was taken keeping in view the security situation in South Kashmir which has seen many encounters between security forces and militants.
On February 14, over 40 CRPF personnel were killed in a miliant attack in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Clubbing of booths kept voters away
Srinagar, Apr 23: The clubbing of the polling booths in Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency Tuesday discouraged many voters, who preferred to stay at home rather than walking long distances to cast their votes.
District Anantnag, which went for polls first in the three-phased schedule Tuesday, recorded 13.63 voter turnouts in six segments including Anantnag, Dooru, Kokernag, Shangus, Bijbehara and Pahalgam.
Scores of the voters said that many gave up their plans to cast vote after authorities announced clubbing of the polling booths in the constituency.
In Lisser Chawalgam village of Kokernag segment, at least three polling stations catering to different locations were accommodated in a local higher secondary school.
It included polling station of Shalnaad village as well, which is at least three kilometers away from the station.
Those who casted their votes claimed that they had to enter secretly into the booth as the area had witnessed stone pelting.
“More people could have come to vote if the locations of the polling booths were not changed at the last moment. Many women didn’t cast their votes as they too had to travel kilometres to reach to the polling station,” said a voter, who had come from Shalnaad to cast his vote at higher secondary school Lisser.
Similarly polling booths in rural areas of Anantnag, Pahalgam too were clubbed, which reportedly affected the voting percentage of these areas.
“South Kashmir usually witnesses low voting percentage. The change in the location of polling booths has further the participation,” said a polling officer.
National Conference Candidate for Anantnag, Retired Justice Hasnain Masoodi, told The Kashmir Monitor that the clubbing of the polling booth was the main reason behind the low voting percentage in many areas.
“The polling booths of Jeshnaad and Makawora have been accommodated in government buildings, which are five to eight kilometers away from these villages. It has made the entire voting exercise inconvenient for the people,” he said.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) earlier also said that clubbing of the polling stations for Parliament elections in Jammu and Kashmir will affect the participation of people in the elections.
Security bandobast not up to the mark: Mir
Srinagar, Apr 23: The Congress Candidate from Anantnag Parliamentary Constituency Ghulam Ahmad Mir Tuesday conveyed his gratitude to voters for participating in polling in Anantnag and hoped that the people of other districts will follow suit.
Mir, in a statement, also expressed serious concern over the lack of security arrangements in Anantnag, saying that “the fool-proof security as was assured by the ECI were not visible on the ground, describing it as a lack of concern on the part of ECI.”
“I express my gratitude to voters for participating in polling in Anantnag,” he said saying that he was pleased to observe that the day has passed incident free.
Taking a jibe at ECI for lack of security arrangements in the district during polling, Mir said the required security arrangements were not seen on the ground in the Anantnag.
“The assurances of ECI with regard to fool-proof security arrangements have fallen flat, which was a matter of serious concern and should not be repeated in coming phases in South Kashmir,” he said.
Mir urged upon the ECI to look into the security aspect of south Kashmir and ensure that fool-proof security arrangements are put in place to ensure free, fair and incident-free elections.
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