Jammu and Kashmir Police has launched a massive crackdown on stone throwers and arrested 500 of them in a bid to blunt separatists' boycott tool and ensure incident-free polling in the next two phases in the Valley.
Police have arrested around 400 stone throwers and trouble mongers from three districts of central Kashmir as a preventive measure.
Srinagar parliamentary constituency, which falls in the central Kashmir range, is going to polls on April 30.
Police have also taken 60 stone pelters into preventive custody from north Kashmir where Baramulla parliamentary constituency is slated to go to polls on May 7.
Seventy stone pelters were arrested from four districts of south Kashmir which went to polls on April 24. Militants' threats coupled with stone-pelting had resulted in only 28 per cent turnout in the polling.
"In view of stone-pelting incidents and violence resorted by miscreants on the poll day in South Kashmir on April 24, police had initiated action to identify the trouble mongers and stone pelters.
Police have arrested 70 stone throwers so far and more arrests are expected in coming days," said a police spokesman.
Police said nobody will be allowed to disrupt the electoral process in the Valley. "The arrests will continue to instill confidence among the voters so that no one attempts to intimidate the people by resorting to violence," the spokesman said.
The crackdown has invited a sharp reaction from the separatists who have called for Kashmir bandh on April 30. "The spree of arrests has completely exposed the anti-people agenda of the government. Such
tactics however are not going to cow down the people or force them to give up their support for the resistance movement," said Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of moderate Hurriyat Conference.
J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah however tried to steer clear of the issue by taking cover under the model code of conduct.
"At this point of time, the security and law and order of the state is direct responsibility of the officers who are accountable to Election Commission. If I talk to officers you will accuse me of violation of
model code of conduct. Therefore, this is a question you should pose either to the DGP of the state or chief secretary," Omar said.