Shutdown, clashes mark first phase of polls

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Srinagar: Kashmir Valley on Monday wore a deserted look as people observed a complete shutdown on the call of the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) to boycott Urban Local Bodies (ULB) elections. Intensified security arrangements were made across the Valley by the authorities to prevent any law and order disturbance during the first phase of municipal elections held today.
In Srinagar, and especially in the old city, all shops, private offices, and petrol pumps remained closed while public transport stayed off the roads. The government had already declared a holiday for government offices and educational institutions for the day.
However, protests broke out in parts of the Valley, including in Srinagar, where in Bagh-e-Mehtab area groups of youth hit the streets and held anti-election protests. The youth clashed with the government forces but no injury was reported. Reports said that minor clashes took place in some old city areas.
Witnesses told Kashmir Reader that violent protests erupted in Bandipora. A woman named Shabeena, wife of Javid Ahmad Dar, was injured by pellets when government forces fired upon protestors during clashes in Lankreshipora area in the afternoon.
Adil Ahmad Buhru, a BJP candidate contesting from Ward-15 of Bandipora, sustained injuries in his head after he was attacked by local youths near Dachigam polling booth. However, police denied that the BJP candidate was either attacked or injured.
As per reports, clashes also erupted in Plan Bandipora township near the government girls’ higher secondary school. The government forces used teargas shells to disperse the stone-throwing youth there, reports said.
A complete shutdown was observed in south Kashmir but no clashes were reported. Heavy deployment of government forces had been made in areas where polling was to take place. Drone cameras were also used to keep an eye on proceedings.
People in central Kashmir’s Budgam district also observed complete shutdown. All shops in the main square of Budgam town were closed and only a few local and non-local vendors had installed their stalls on the street side. Commuters had to wait for hours to find any transport.
Internet services were snapped in several parts of south and north Kashmir. In the rest of the Valley the bandwidth was reduced to 2G speed.
Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was put under house arrest on Sunday while chairman of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Muhammad Yasin Malik was arrested on Tuesday to prevent him from carrying out election boycott campaign. Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Geelani continues to be under house arrest.