Militants Attack Poll Party; Poll Official Killed, 5 Injured

24 April 2014
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Anantnag: Amid fear, poll boycott and long queues, around 28 per cent people voted in Anantnag constituency, with highest percentage of votes polled in Noorabad segment and lowest in Tral segment, whereas a poll official was killed and 5 others including poll staff and police men were injured in a militant attack today. South Kashmir Police Chief, Vijay Kumar told Excelsior that militants attacked a polling party near Nagbal in Shopian district when it was returning with the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) from Zainapora area this evening killing one poll official and injuring two CRPF men, one police man and two poll staff. 'One polling officer, Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq of Herpora, Shopian, was killed and one polling staff member Zubair Ahmad Indrabi of Shopian, two CRPF personnel of 144 battalion - Sanjay Kumar and Vijay Kumar, one police head constable Ghulam Nabi and driver of the bus, Manzoor Ahmad of Tral, were injured', said a police spokesman. All the injured were removed to district hospital Shopian. Senior Police, Army and CRPF officers rushed to the spot to assess the situation. Security forces have launched an operation against the militants responsible for the attack. Chief Electoral Officer of the State, Umang Narula told a news conference in Srinagar that 13, 01,142 voters were registered in Anantnag constituency and 28 percent of them exercised their franchise. The figures of the Election Commission revealed that in Pulwama district's Tral Assembly segment of Anantnag constituency, 1121 votes were polled out of 83460 votes; in Pampore, 4712 votes were polled out of 77685; in Pulwama, 3196 votes were polled out of 77971 and in Rajpora, 15, 669 votes were polled out of 88531. The figures for Shopian district's Shopian Assembly segment revealed that 20, 322 votes were polled out of 80, 205 and in Wacchi Assembly segment 14, 854 votes were polled out of 76, 023. The Anantnag district figures revealed that out of 83104 votes in Anantnag Assembly segment, 15676 votes were polled; in Dooru 32, 077 votes were polled out of 72, 216; in Kokernag, 39, 609 votes were polled out of 85488 votes; in Shangus, 30249 votes were polled out of 81431 votes; in Bijbehara, 31, 184 votes were polled out of 86,353 votes and in Pahalgam, 44, 640 votes were polled out of 79,260 votes. In Kulgam district's Noorabad Assembly segment 54, 073 votes were polled out of 71, 363 votes; in Devsar, 35, 905 votes were polled out of 86, 757 votes; in Kulgam 16, 563 out of 92, 629 votes and in Homeshalibugh out 14, 267 votes were polled out of 75, 479 votes. The CEO said that 37.76 percent votes were cast in Anantnag, 36.68 percent in Kulgam, 6.32 percent in Pulwama, 20.43 percent in Shopian districts and figures of exact polling are being received from various other far flung areas of these districts, which would subsequently add up the final poll percentage. He said that 40 percent of the migrant voters also exercised their franchise for which polling booths were set up at Jammu, Udhampur and New Delhi. Narula said that as many as 1615 polling stations were set up at 1028 locations across the Parliamentary Constituency, which included 582 hypersensitive ones. He also said that web casting was done in as many as 65 booths, besides digital as well as video cameras were deployed for covering the voting process. The CEO said 5 Observers, 205 Micro Observers and 8267 polling personnel were deployed for the Parliamentary Constituency. He said that 12 candidates are in the fray for the Constituency. Fear and poll boycott was evident in the parts of Anantnag constituency while other areas saw brisk polling with voters turning in large numbers. The CEO said that low turnout in parts of the constituency was due to fear factor caused due to some incidents in those areas. Noorabad, Devsar, Kokernag, Shangus, Bijbehara, Pahalgam and parts of Kulgam witnessed brisk polling. Voters were waiting in large queues in these area. In Yaroo polling station at Damhal Hanjipora, out of 937 votes, 162 were polled in two hours in the morning and people in long queues were waiting for their turn. In Chattabal Polling Station at Tarigam, out of 276 votes, 35 were in just one hour in the morning and people had made a beeline outside the polling booth. At Khurbatpora in Noorabad 215 votes were polled in at a polling booth out of 819 in first three hours while long queues were witnessed in nearby polling booths. In Kelgam, Kulgam at polling booth 39B, 294 votes were polled out of 877 in first four hours and people in long queues waiting for their turn. The enthusiasm in voters in this village was overwhelming. 'We don't want to get beaten by Army and police. I am driver and was beaten at least 100 times by Army, police and CRPF at various place but in previous Government we moved around freely', said Aijaz Ahmad who had polled his vote. The streets in Tral, Pampore, Pulwama, Shopian and parts of Kulgam were presenting a ghost look with people mostly staying away from the polling. These areas also saw ding dong battles between police and stone throwing protesters throughout the day in which at least 4 dozen persons including two dozen police men were injured. The Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, A G Mir, said that one dozen each police and CRPF men were injured in stone pelting across Anantnag constituency. He said that few people were arrested on charges of stone pelting. In Tral constituency where three people including two village headmen were killed two days ago, people mostly remained indoors with majority of polling stations presenting a ghost look with poll staff waiting for voters. According to reports in majority of the polling stations, the voting figure failed to cross single figure mark. In Batgund, Tral, people in large numbers were visiting house of Sarpanch Ghulam Nabi Mir who was killed along with his son two days ago but the nearby polling booth was empty. There were not even Polling agents and the poll staff called police and CRPF to do the mock polling to check the EVMs. Not a single voter turned in Polling Booth, Batgund-24-B, where 682 people had to exercise their franchise. And in another Polling Booth, 23-A Batgund, only one person cast his vote while 764 others abstained from voting. Posters of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen in the main market of Tral warned 'agents of the NC, PDP and Congress that their refusal to desist from polling would mean their death'. In Gulzarpora, Awantipora, both the polling booths were deserted as fear was evident from the faces of the villagers who said Pandith was first persons to be killed since 1990 in the village. Sarpanch Mohammad Amin Pandith was killed last week and people were still mourning his death and nearby two polling booths were deserted. In Gulzarpora-83 only one vote was polled, out of 983 and in Gulzarpora-84 not a single vote was polled, out of 1064. In Mehbooba Mufti's polling booth, Islamiya Higher Secondary School in Bijbehara, 125 people had cast their vote out of 348 when Mehbooba arrived to cast her vote in the evening. The Pampore town which is said to be hot bed of militancy witnessed almost zero per cent polling. Pampore A31 and B31 witnessed no polling. 'We were waiting for whole day but no one turned up. It was a boring day for us', said Polling Officer Shoukat Ahmad. In Pampore 37E and 38F, only one vote was cast in each polling booth. The polling officer of Pampore 38F said that a 72-year old man, Mohammad Ramzan turned up in the polling Booth in the afternoon looking for plough symbol to cast his vote.