Amid shutdown in poll-bound areas, protesters Thursday clashed with government forces at Soibugh, Nasrullahpora and Beerwah areas in central Kashmir's Budgam district during which a youth sustained pellet injuries in his eye, witnesses said. Police however claimed that re-polling at 38 booths across Budgam district passed off peacefully and there was "no incident of violence" reported from anywhere.
Witnesses said as soon as polling commenced at Nasrullahpora this morning, youth took to the streets and staged protests. "Force personnel who were deployed in strength in the area resorted to baton charge and fired teargas shells to disperse the protesters, who retaliated with stones, triggering clashes. As youth did not relent, authorities shifted polling booth to nearby Takipora," they said.
"Soon after the pooling booth was shifted, a group of youth tried to march towards Takipora from Nasrullah Pora, but were again intercepted by the forces. Youth resorted to massive stone pelting with forces using teargas shells, pava shells and pellets to disperse the demonstrators. In the forces action, a youth identified as Tariq Ahmed sustained pellet injuries in his eye. He was taken to District Hospital Budgam, where pellets were removed from his eyes," witnesses added.
They said clashes between youth and forces personnel also broke out at Beerwah and Soibugh areas of the district. Budgam observes shutdown
Budgam district observed a complete shutdown on Thursday in response to the call given by the joint resistance leadership—Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik—against what they (leaders) termed as "sham polls."
All shops, business establishments and schools remained closed and traffic was off the roads.
'CREDIT FOR PEACEFUL POLLS GOES TO FORCES'
Meanwhile, the Director General of Police (DGP) Dr S P Vaid said "credit for the peaceful and incident-free polls goes to the forces. They get slaps, kicks and abuses and yet they exercise maximum restraint. There was no incident of law and order anywhere in Budgam district. Re-polling in all 38 polling stations went on peacefully."
He said elaborate security arrangements were put in place under a well-planned strategy. Asked what went wrong on last Sunday which saw eight civilian killings—seven in Budgam and one in Ganderbal, the J&K Police chief said: "We were expecting some mischief from militants, but that didn't happen. We were not expecting law and order problem by the local crowd. It was totally unexpected. We were not expecting locals would storm polling booths and damage Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs)."
Asked whether similar strategy would be put in place for South Kashmir, where polling is slated for May 25, he said: "We will think on the same lines and plan accordingly."
Pertinently, two senior police officers of SP rank, were specially deployed in Budgam district to monitor the poll process and to meet with any possible challenges.