702 voters, 20,000 security personnel: Budgam records 2 pc turnout in bypolls
Only 2.02 per cent voters turned up to exercise their franchise across 38 polling stations in by-polls in Budgam district of Srinagar parliamentary constituency, where authorities had deployed over 20,000 personnel to ensure smooth polling in the district.
The total turnout at 702 was the lowest in the history of the restive border state. It was also below the 7 per cent of Sunday’s polling.
Polling across 38 polling booths was ordered due to the unprecedented violence on Sunday which resulted in 8 deaths. More than 100 security personnel were also injured.
According to the Election Commission, only 519 voters of the 35,169 eligible electorate had exercised their right in the first six hours of polling.
The authorities have deployed over 20,000 security personnel to ensure smooth re-polling in the district. The personnel were drawn from state police and the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
Besides, curfew-like restrictions were imposed in areas where the re-poll was not held.
Dozens of mobile bunker vehicles provided additional support to the security forces on the ground during the area domination exercise. All the top brass of state police and the CRPF were monitoring the law and order situation.
The areas where re-polling was held included parts of Budgam, near Srinagar, where stone-pelting and petrol bomb attacks were made on Sunday. But in some of the violence-hit areas, not a single vote had been cast.
The instances of violence at polling stations that left 8 people dead and necessitated the by-polls were followed up with death threats circulating on social media for anybody who turned out to vote.
Chadoora, which was worst hit by violence during Sunday's polling, recorded over 200 votes while Beerwah assembly segment saw nearly 150 people turn up to vote.
Few days ago, anti-social elements had issued threat to political parties observers not to take part in the elections.
Budgam, famous for Chrar-e-Sharif shrine, has not witnessed much terror-related violence during the late 1990s and 2000s except for the siege by Pakistan-based terrorist Mast Gul in 1995. Gul had led a large group of terrorists into the shrine, leading to a stand-off with the army for nearly two months. In the end, the shrine was burnt down under mysterious circumstances.
The area has a mix of Shia and Sunni Muslims and Sikh population.
There is palpable tension in the area as people are observing 'Rasm-e-Churram' in the memory of those killed in firing by the security forces on the election day. Those killed included teenagers.
Pakarpora, an area under Chrar-e-Sharif police station, has emerged as a major route for terrorists from Pakistan infiltrating India.
Terrorist activities increased in Kashmir following the emergence of Burhan Wani, a Hizbul Mujahideen commander, as the posterboy of militancy in the Valley. His killing last year by the security forces triggered prolonged unrest and large-scale loss of life and property.
Burhan Wani, a Hizbul Mujahideen commander, as the posterboy of militancy in the Valley. His killing last year by the security forces triggered prolonged unrest and large-scale loss of life and property.