Kashmir capital erupts in protests after voting, clashes at many places

Massive clashes erupted between groups of youth and government forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar soon after the election for the state assembly got over today. 

Witnesses told Kashmir Dispatch as the paramilitary forces and police began to retreat from the polling booths and main roads of the Old City and the Srinagar suburbs, groups of youth shouting pro freedom and anti-India slogans marched on to the streets that were heavily fortified during the day. 

As many as 440 companies of paramilitary forces were deployed Sunday across the constituencies that went to the polls, in addition to state police personnel.

Witnesses said youth attacked government forces and poll staff buses in various places. 

Kashmir Dispatch reporters said that clashes were happening in Nawab Bazar, Fateh Kadal, Nowhehra, Zaldagar, Nowhatta, Maisuma, Habba Kadal, Safa Kadal and Awnta Bhawan. Police and paramilitary fired several tear gas canister at the youth who responded with stones. 

In Nowhatta, Safa Kadal and Maisuma, locals said forces also used pepper gas.

Reports said a driver of the poll staff bus was injured in the stone hurling clashes in Tankipora. 

Stone protests are also been reported from Maisuma where an anti poll rally was taken out a day ahead of the polls. Police also arrested an All Parties Hurriyat Conference leader Hilal Ahmad War during a nocturnal raid in the area.

Meanwhile, authorities said the poll process ended peacefully without any incident of violence.

In Amira Kadal constituency in Srinagar district, witnesses accused Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Hina Bhat of misbehaving with a polling officer inside a poll station.

Angry workers of the National Conference started shouting slogans against Bhat and the BJP after news of the incident spread in the area.

Additional security was rushed to escort the BJP candidate out of the polling station as a large number of agitating National Conference supporters gathered there.

As many as 440 companies of paramilitary forces were deployed Sunday across the constituencies that went to the polls, in addition to state police personnel.

Some high profile candidates were Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, former chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, and ministers Ali Muhammad Sagar, G.A. Mir and Peerzada Sayeed.

Outgoing Speaker Mubarak Gul also contested from Idgah constituency in Srinagar that went to the polls Sunday.

The fifth and final phase of the elections will be held Dec 20. Votes will be counted Dec 23.