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Jammu and Kashmir: Seven dead as violence mars Srinagar bypoll

Kashmiri protestors clash with Indian security forces near a polling station in Srinagar on April 9. Photograph: (AFP)

WION Jammu and Kashmir Apr 09, 2017, 05.07 AM (IST)

Sunday's bypolls in India's Kashmir was marked by deadly violence and a poor turnout.

On a day when seven civilians were killed in the troubled state, voting in the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat saw an abysmally low turnout of 6.5 per cent.

Chief Electoral Officer Shantanu told journalists that more than 100 security personnel were also injured in the violence.

When asked as to how many polling stations he expected repoll to be ordered, the officer said it could be anywhere between 50 and 100 booths or maybe more.

Shantanu said Anantnag Lok Sabha seat in south Kashmir, where bypoll is scheduled for April 12, would pose a "bigger challenge".

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti's younger brother Tasaduq Mufti is making his electoral debut from Anantnag.

Violence erupts on voting day

Security forces opened fire on a stone-pelting mob that stormed a polling station in Kashmir's Budgam district while voting was underway for the Srinagar parliamentary constituency, PTI reported

Hundreds of protesters stormed a polling station at Pakherpora in Charar-e-Sharief area of Budgam district. 

In another incident, security forces opened fire on a stone-pelting mob in Budgam's Beerwah area, resulting in the death of a person. 

Sporadic incidents of stone pelting were also reported in Srinagar parliamentary constituency, police said.

Separatists had called for a strike asking Kashmiris to boycott the polls. Normal life was affected in three poll-bound districts of the valley because of the strike.

Most of the shops and other business establishments remained closed in Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts. Public transport also remained off the roads.

The Srinagar Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after ruling PDP's Tariq Hameed Karra resigned protesting against the deaths of protesters in the wake of the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah is contending the vacant seat with PDP's Nazir Ahmad Khan.

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All the polling stations were declared as sensitive or hyper-sensitive keeping in mind threats from terrorist outfits and separatists.  

More than 1,500 polling stations were set up for nearly 12.61 lakh electorate. Polling began at 7 am and ended at 5 in the evening.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British rule in 1947. Both claim the disputed territory in its entirety.

Rebel groups in Indian Kashmir have for decades battled troops and police, demanding independence or a merger of the territory with Pakistan.

Around 500,000 Indian soldiers are deployed in the region.

Armed encounters between rebels and government forces have become more frequent following widespread unrest which was sparked by the killing of a popular rebel leader by security forces last July. 

Police and army officials say dozens of local youths have joined the rebel ranks since then.

At least 29 armed militants, mostly locals, have died fighting government forces this year.

(WION with inputs from agency)

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