North Kashmir Records 39.6% Turnout

7 May 2014
Times of India
M Saleem Pandit

Baramulla: North Kashmir recorded 39.6% voter turnout amid protests and a terror attack on Wednesday. This is the highest in the Kashmir valley in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls. Earlier 28% and 26% turnout was recorded in Anantnag and Srinagar. Reports said a youth was critically wounded after a tear gas shell hit him during clashes with paramilitary forces in Bandipora, which witnessed widespread clashes throughout the day that prevented people from voting. Polling was slow in the morning, but voters came out to vote in large numbers particularly in Kupwara district. Long queues were seen at many polling stations there while there was unrest in Baramalla and Bandipora. Baramulla town wore a deserted look as police and paramilitary forces patrolled streets. Not a single vote was cast at 11 polling stations in Sopore town till 2.30pm. Twelve votes were polled at Mazebugh. Sopore has long been a separatist stronghold and has traditionally boycotted polls. 'How can we forget the hanging of (parliament attack convict) Afzal Guru and participate in the election?' asked Sopore resident Farooq Ahmad Dar. 'You expect us vote for the people who have enabled execution of Guru inside the Tihar Jail without even informing his parents here.' Guru's village, Doabgah, observed a complete poll boycott, which was reported from places like Palhalan as well. Several booths in the area recorded zero percent polling till 2pm. Some youth captured and reportedly locked polling stations at Hardshiva near Sopore and Bandipora. But the Army unlocked the booths, where polling staff was kept hostage. One jawan was wounded when a crude bomb was hurled at the polling station in Pattan. Hizbul Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the attack.