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Repolling After Violence Sees Srinagar Lok Sabha Seat Record 2% Voter Turnout

Only two per cent turnout was witnessed in repolling in 38 polling stations in Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency, officials said.

Mufti Islah | CNN-News18

Updated:April 13, 2017, 11:32 PM IST
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Budgam: Repoll in some polling booths had more elaborate security bandobast than voting per se. Fifteen thousand security men fortressing 38 booths, hundreds of vehicles, nearly 500 staffers and drivers and the end result, 709 votes cast of the total 35169, a dismal two percent turnout.

The Bagh-e-Mehtab polling booth on Srinagar outskirts was ringed by 300 troopers, a dozen odd polling staffers but through the day not a single voter of the 785 came to punch the electronic voting machine (EVM).

The CRPF men deployed there told News18 that 'they are not bothered by how many turn up but the day should be incident free'.

On Sunday, scores of stone pelting youth asked troops deployed there to march out from the booth which is next to a railway track. They even snatched an EVM and broke it to smithereens.

"Our boys just walked out without engaging with the protestors. They were seven only and today three companies have been deployed. Imagine the strength today," said the CRPF man.

This booth is the gateway to the Chadoora locality of Budgam where the Election Commission had ordered a re-poll in the wake of violence during Sunday’s by poll in Srinagar parliamentary constituency. The constituency spreads over Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts.

Shantmanu, the chief electoral officer was a content man saying the re-poll was peaceful.

That said, each one of the 38 booths - barring a few - was literally turned into a fortress to facilitate polling but the turnout was five per cent less than witnessed in 1569 booths on Sunday. Most of the polling booths could not even open their account or struggled to reach double digit.

“Thank God this is over. Our families called us many times in the day to enquire if things were peaceful. They were worried," a poll official told News18.

“We are not bothered whether anybody came or not. We are happy that there was no stone pelted on us."

But the official was unaware that the CRPF and police were trying to keep off a two dozen angry youth away from the booth. This reporter was hit on his foot while the youth were being chased away on the railway track - 100 metres from the booth.

The stone throwers were marching towards the booth, apparently to repeat what they did on Sunday – snatch and damage the EVM.

But the forces were in good strength, roughly 50 times more than on Sunday. In minutes, close to 200 surfaced on the railway track to chase away the youngsters who had abundant stones at their disposal.

The battle continued for an hour but no one was injured. The policemen lobbed a few teargas shells to push the youth back.

“There are strict directions to CRPF men not to fire bullets, pellets or even smoke shells. There are strict orders that there should be no injuries,” a police officer said.

Massive violence had rocked the Srinagar on Sunday when firing by security forces left eight youth dead and scores injured. The violence prompted Election Commission to postpone bypoll in Anantnag seat from April 12 to May 25.

The counting for Srinagar will take place on April 15.

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| Edited by: Mirza Arif Beg
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