Srinagar, April 13, 2017: Four days after widespread violence left eight people dead in Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar-Budgam Lok Sabha constituency, only 467 votes were cast in four hours of re-polling on Thursday.
The re-polling was ordered in 38 voting stations. Although the balloting was incident free, few came out to vote in what would have been a prestigious battle involving National Conference President and former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and the ruling PDP’s Nazir Ahmad Khan.
Hundreds of security personnel checked pedestrians and vehicles in the area. The authorities banned the gathering of four or more people in a bid to curb mob fury.
“The restrictions have been imposed to prevent violence,” a police officer said.
For security reasons, polling stations in many places in Budgam were clustered together in a single building.
The re-poll was ordered in Chadoora, Chrar-e-Sharief, Khansahib and Beerwah areas in Budgam after widespread street protests on Sunday killed eight people and saw only 7.4 per cent voting.
This was the lowest voting in the last three decades anywhere in Jammu and Kashmir, where a separatist campaign raging since 1989 has left thousands dead.
A total of 34,169 are eligible to vote on Thursday but officials said they had their fingers crossed on how many would exercise their franchise.
Separatist groups have called for a boycott of the by-elections.
Alarmed by the violence, the Election Commission also decided to defer the Anantnag Lok Sabha by-election in south Kashmir to May 25 from April 12.
The result of the Srinagar-Budgam by-election will be known on Saturday.