Bandipora: Municipal elections in Bandipora recorded the lowest voter turnout in Kashmir – at 3.38 percent – and witnessed violence in which a pregnant woman was injured by pellets fired by government forces and a BJP candidate was injured in stone-pelting by local youths.
A total of 573 voters, 388 males and 205 females, cast their votes out of the electorate of 16,953 in the town.
Soon after voting began at 7am, allegations of bogus voting were made by an Independent candidate, who accused Congress legislator Usman Majid of organising bogus voting.
Mohammad Akram Wani, contesting as Independent in Nathpora (Ward number 14), alleged that the Congress leader used cops to cast votes in favour of his brother Khurshid Ahmad, one of the contestants for the ward.
“The four votes cast at the ward are bogus as none of the persons is from the village. They are all policemen,” Wani alleged.
Of the town’s total 17 wards, voting was held for 16 in 24 polling booths. There was no voting in Ward-7, Nusu, where a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate had already been declared elected unopposed.
Soon after the allegations of bogus voting, Deputy Commissioner Bandipora Shahid Iqbal Choudary suspended a presiding officer for violating polling rules.
The presiding officer was suspended for violating norms in allowing a woman to accompany a voter up to the voting compartment in polling station 20 at Kaloosa in the morning, Shahid Choudhary told Kashmir Reader.
The presiding officer, Muzaffar Ahmad Sheikh, was replaced by the Polling Officer 1 at Higher Secondary School Kaloosa. In the afternoon, a BJP candidate was injured when angry protesters attacked him with stones. Adil Ahmad Buhru, resident of Ward-2 in Plan Bandipora, is a contestant for Ward-15. He sustained injuries when some youths hurled stones at him near the Girls’ Higher Secondary School, the polling booth at Ward-2, witnesses told Kashmir Reader.
“As I was coming out from the booth after casting my vote for a BJP colleague contesting for Ward 2, a hail of stones came towards me and 3-4 of them hit my head. My Scorpio vehicle was also damaged,” Buhru said.
Doctors at District Hospital Bandipora confirmed that Buhru was brought to the hospital for treatment and that he received three stitches in the head.
The BJP’s district president for Bandipora, Sheikh Waseem Baria, alleged that the Congress and other parties like NC and PDP were indulging in violence. “It is due to them that one of our party candidates sustained injuries,” Baria said.
A pregnant lady was also brought to the District Hospital with pellet injuries all over her body, including in the abdomen. Shabeena, wife of Javid Ahmad Dar, was injured after being hit by pellets that government forces fired when clashes erupted in Lankreshipora area in the afternoon, witnesses told Kashmir Reader.
The clashes, witnesses said, began after angry protesters attacked a police vehicle with stones.
A lady doctor who treated Shabeena said that the lady was three months pregnant and had abrasion wounds on her stomach. Though her condition was stable, the doctor said, “She was referred to SMHS Srinagar as precautionary measure and for X-ray, to check if pellets had not gone further deep into the abdomen.”
Violent clashes that erupted in the afternoon at Plan Bandipora continued till late evening, with forces firing several teargas shells to disperse the stone-throwing youth. Some residents alleged that paramilitary forces went berserk and smashed windowpanes of houses during the clashes.
The votes cast at each ward in Bandipora are as follows: Ward 1 (Nowpora) – 13 votes, Ward 2 – 13 votes, Ward 3 – 6 votes, Ward 4 – 5 votes, Ward 5 – 79 votes, Ward 6 – 49 votes, Ward 7 – 0 votes, Ward 8 – 116 votes, Ward 9 – 5 votes, Ward 10 – 72 votes, Ward 11 – 65 votes, Ward 12 – 10 votes, Ward 13 – 56 votes, Ward 14 – 24 votes, Ward 15 – 32 votes, Ward 16 – 19 votes, and Ward 17 – 9 votes.