Only 702 votes cast in Kashmir by-election

Four days after widespread pro freedom protest left eight people dead in Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar-Budgam constituency for the lower house of Indian parliament, a mere 702 votes were cast in six hours of re-polling on Thursday, amid massive security presence.

The authorities have deployed over 20,000 armed personnel to ensure smooth re-polling in Budgam district after Sunday’s unprecedented clashes and protests.

The personnel are drawn from state police and the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force. 

Besides, the authorities have also imposed curfew-like restrictions in areas where the re-poll is not being 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.

A total of 35,169 voters were entitled to cast their votes at the district’s 38 polling stations, but only 702 turned out. 

Given the ubiquitous presence of armed forces on the ground, central Budgam district had almost 40 armed personnel to guard each voter to exercise their franchise in the trouble-torn district.

“The top priority of the forces is to ensure peaceful conduct of the re-poll and provide security to those voters who are willing to use their democratic right,” a senior police officer said here.

Dissent leaders had called for a boycott of the polls in addition to asking people not to come out of their homes in areas where the re-poll is being held on Thursday.

On Sunday, widespread protests marred the voting process in Srinagar-Budgam Lok Sabha constituency by-poll.

Only seven per cent voters turned out on April 9 in the districts of Srinagar, Ganderbal and Budgam where 15 assembly segments constituting the Srinagar-Budgam parliamentary seats are situated.

It was because of unprecedented clashes and the lowest-ever voter turnout on April 9, that the Election Commission deferred the April 12 by-poll in Anantnag parliamentary constituency to May 25. 

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