Amid fresh violence in Valley, EC defers Anantnag Lok Sabha by-poll to May 25
As shadow of violence loomed over the Anantnag Lok Sabha by-poll, scheduled for April 12, the Election Commission on Monday deferred the polling to May 25, citing inputs from the Jammu and Kashmir government that law-and-order situation is not conducive.
The by-election was to be held on April 12.
The EC notification said the state administration apprehends that "violent attempts" can be made by miscreants to thwart the poll process.
It pointed at large scale violence which took place in Srinagar yesterday during a similar bypoll.
June 1 has been set as the date by which election process should be completed in Anantnag.
The long period has apparently been given keeping in mind the possibility of repoll that may be held there.
The Anantnag seat fell vacant in June last year after Mehbooba Mufti won the assembly polls and resigned from the Lok Sabha.
Earlier, a school building was set ablaze as mobs stoned security personnel in Anantnag town and adjoining areas, prompting Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's brother and PDP contestant Tassaduq Hussain Mufti to seek deferment of the Wednesday Lok Sabha by-election in the region.
The fresh violence amid a complete shutdown in response to a call from separatists comes a day after widespread clashes, disrupting voting for the Srinagar by-election, while security forces left eight civilians dead in central and north Kashmir.
Clashes erupted in Pulwama, Kulgam, Anantnag and Shopian districts of south Kashmir - the region that is scheduled to vote on Wednesday for a Lok Sabha by-poll.
The officer said mobs threw stones at security forces at more than a dozen places as the forces used tear gas canisters and baton charged the crowds to disperse them.
Yesterday's by-boll in another Lok Sabha by-poll in Srinagar was marred by violence with the death of eight civilians even as the voter turn-out remained low at little over 7 per cent.
The ruling PDP was in the favour of postponing the by-polls while Opposition Congress and National Conference demanded holding it as scheduled on April 12.
They put these views at a meeting of all parties called by the state's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to discuss holding of the Anantnag Lok Sabha by-polls, officials said here.
They said the meeting also discussed holding repolling in the areas that witnessed widespread violence during Srinagar Lok Sabha by-poll yesterday.
Meeting was attended by representatives from PDP, BJP, Congress, National Conference, other state parties and independent candidates.
The Opposition representative also objected to holding any re-poll in Srinagar Constituency where eight persons were killed during large-scale violence around polling stations in various parts yesterday.
Earlier today, PDP candidate Tasaduq Mufti had appealed the EC to postpone the by-poll.
The Chief Election Commissioner reviewed the situation with local administrators through video conference.
The state CEO will submit a detailed report on the discussion to the Election Commission of India, the officials said, adding a decision on holding the by-polls likely to be taken tomorrow.