Killing of three political workers in the district by the militants three days ago has severely affected voter turnout in Kashmir's Pulwama district in Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency.
Only five% of the three lakh voter had exercised their franchise till 3 PM in the district where militants and separatist groups have a sizable following. Militants had shot dead a Congress Sarpanch, his son and a numberdar (village official) on Monday night-–three days ahead of polling for Anantnag LS seat-–in Tral area of the district. Militants had earlier shot dead a PDP sarpanch in nearby Awantipora.
Last night, unidentified group of youth pelted stones at a number of polling booths which also affected the voter turnout in the district. Till 3.00 PM, Tral Assembly constituency had registered a turnout of less than one% (0.81%) while Pulwama Assembly segment fared better at 2.22%. Pampore assembly segment registered 3.91% voting during the corresponding period while Rajpora had the best turnout at 12.37%.
Any chance of the voters putting behind the political killings in the run up to polling was washed away as groups of youth resorted to stone pelting on polling stations.
One such incident took place at Koil near Pulwama town, where security forces had to fire warning shots to restore order. People of Kakpora town, who have actively taken part in past elections, did not come out this time around. There was no voter at three polling stations in the first hour of voting. The story was similar in many other areas of the district. The effect of election boycott campaign also spilled over to parts of neighbouring Kulgam assembly constituency, which is represented by CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami, witnessed only 14% turnout in the eight hours of polling.
Some known CPI(M) activists from the area admitted that they have decided not to vote as Tarigami chose not to contest the Lok Sabha polls. Tarigami, the lone CPI(M) MLA, did not even cast his vote today. "I am not keeping well and cannot travel to Kulgam today," he said.