Six die as violence mars polling in Kashmir (Fourth Lead)

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Srinagar, April 9 (IANS) In one of the worst incidents of poll-violence in the state, at least six persons were killed on Sunday when security forces opened fire to disperse protestors in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, where polling in by-election for the Srinagar-Budgam parliamentary seat is being held.

Three protestors died in Beerwah, two in Dalwan village of the Charar-e-Sharif assembly segment and one in Wathura area, police said.

The security forces opened fire reportedly after a mob attacked the polling station in Dalwan village, damaged the EVMs and prevented voters from exercising their franchise.

“Security forces opened fire to protect the polling staff,” a police official said.

A mob torched a bus and also damaged the EVMs at a polling station in Beerwah as also in Wathura area of Budgam district, the police official said.

The voting turnout was a poor five per cent till noon after polling commenced at 7.00 a.m in Budgam, Srinagar and Ganderbal districts that fall within the parliamentary constituency.

At least 261,397 voters are eligible to cast vote in the Srinagar-Budgam seat where 1,559 polling stations have been set up.

The stakes are high for National Conference patriarch Farooq Abdullah, who is contesting against Peoples’ Democratic Party’s Nazir Khan.

Altogether, nine candidates are in fray for the seat that fell vacant after PDP leader Tariq Hameed Karra resigned in the aftermath of the protests following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani last year.

–IANS

sq-ahm/dg

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