Voting booths, EVMs, buses set ablaze
SRINAGAR: Seven civilians were killed and scores injured in government forces firing on polling day in the Srinagar parliamentary constituency on Sunday.
People at many places in the constituency padlocked polling stations, burnt and stole electronic voting machines, and set ablaze buses used for ferrying polling staff.
Talking to reporters, JK Chief Electoral Officer Shantmanu said that six civilians were killed, 70 civilians and more than 100 security personnel injured during the day.
“It was not a good day for us. More than 200 incidents of violence, which included stone-pelting and petrol-bombing, were reported. At many places, polling stations, electronic voting machines, and buses were set ablaze,” he said.
All the six killings happened in Budgam district. The first two killings took place in Dalawan village in Budgam when the polling had just begun. Eyewitnesses told Kashmir Reader that local youths marched towards the polling station shouting anti-India and pro-freedom slogans, and were intercepted by government forces, which opened fire on them, killing two youths.
“As soon as the polling staff arrived at the Dalwan polling station, civilians targeted it with stones. Forces opened fire on the stone-throwing youths and one of them was killed. The killing triggered protests, and resulted in another killing,” eyewitnesses said. The killed youths have been identified as Abbas Ahmad and Faizan Ahmad Dar, a Class 7 student.
Eyewitnesses said that in the afternoon a third civilian was shot dead at Dawlatpora Chadoora. They said that a civilian named Shabir Ahmad Bhat, a worker at a chicken farm, had returned from work to take lunch at home. In the afternoon, eyewitnesses said, Shabir went out to play cricket when he was hit by a bullet fired by government forces at a nearby polling station.
The fourth killing occurred at Beerwah. Here, Akeel Ahmad, a resident of Churmujroo, died when he was hit in his head by a bullet fired by government forces.
Adil Ahmad was the fifth person killed by forces. Eyewitnesses said that Adil was hit by pellets in Yarigund area of Kawoosa. He was declared brought dead at SKIMS Bemina.
The sixth civilian killed was Nisar Ahmad, a resident of Ratsuna Beerwah.
Eyewitnesses said that civilians stormed several polling stations in Budgam and Srinagar districts. Hundreds of protestors stormed polling stations at Pakherpora, Beerwah, Khan Sahib, Noorbagh and many other areas and ransacked the polling stations.
At Ganderbal, protests and clashes were reported at many places. In the evening, many youths sustained injuries. One of them, Umar Farooq Ganai son of Farooq Ahmad Ganai of Borus, Ganderbal, was hit in his head by a teargas shell. He later succumbed at hospital.
The eighth killing of the day was that of Aamir Manzoor who was killed after he was hit by a bullet at Sogam area of Chadoora.
A resident of main Budgam town told Kashmir Reader that at Dardpora, Rajwaen, Falchal, Nuner, and Nasrullahpora, polling stations were closed at mid-day when protests intensified.
At Soibug, civilians barged inside a polling station and asked poling staff to vacate the place. Eyewitness said that they were given safe passage. At several polling booths in Budgam, police had to rescue polling staff as protesters attacked and ransacked the booths.
In Budgam, the situation remained tense after forces were withdrawn from streets. A local of Hasanabad area of Beerwah told Kashmir Reader that government troops barged into houses when youth were throwing stones at them.
“They broke window panes, household items, and beat the inmates. The entire locality was punished,” a youth who lives in Hasanabad told Reader.
In Srinagar, youths fought pitched battles on streets with government forces at many places, the most intense at Soura where youths fought all day. In the old city, some troops were reported to have been beaten up by local youths.
“At Nawa Kadal, a youth hurled a stone at troops, who chased him. When they reached a narrow alley, many youths poured in and beat up the troops,” eyewitnesses said.
In the evening, a youth in old city was injured when he was hit by bullets. At Habbak area, after forces were removed, youths hurled stones at them and the forces fired bullets, injuring several youth.
At Khanmoh, civilians did not let the polling staff to come out once the polling ended. Only after a reinforcement of government forces arrived at the place did the staff leave.
“They fired in air. Three civilians sustained injuries and shifted to Srinagar hospitals for treatment,” an eyewitness said.