Ganderbal (Kashmir);Army was called out to help security forces contain a rampaging mob which pelted stones and hurled petrol bombs to set a polling booth ablaze in the Ganderbal district of the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency, as violence marred polling for the byelections.
Voting was affected in urban areas as the polling staff and security forces bore the brunt of stone-pelting incidents reported from across the district, comprising two assembly segments. However, polling in rural areas was higher than in the Ganderbal town and other urban areas.
Army was called out in aid of the state administration in Gadura area after a mob rained stones at polling stations and tried to burn down a building where a booth was located, officials said, adding that petrol bombs were hurled at the booth as well as the security forces guarding it.
The area connects the district with Soura area of Srinagar and is often used by militants to infiltrate into the city.
Ironically, a poster of Zakir Moosa, commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, appeared in the vicinity of a police station in the main town of Ganderbal leaving police personnel red-faced.
A visit to the area, located barely 20 kms from Srinagar city, showed protesters gathered outside poll booths and staging a sit-in asking voters to refrain from polling.
Opposition National Conference leaders including its President and candidate, Farooq Abdullah, and his son Omar attacked the Jammu and Kashmir government led by Mehbooba Mufti for having completely failed to ensure smooth conduct of the polls.
Comprising Ganderbal and Kagan assembly seats, the district has been a traditional bastion for National Conference.
In Chenar area, one Mohammed Ramzan Rather and his wife and other villagers faced the wrath of angry protestors when they were on their way to vote. He was rushed to Kangan district hospital with a bleeding head.
The nearby locality of Wakura wore a deserted look after crowds pelted stones at security forces in the morning. After being on the defensive for over two hours, securitymen fire several rounds of tear gas shells to disperse the protestors.
As many as 15 polling booths in Ganderbal and two in Kangan had reported zero votes till 1 PM. There are 209 polling stations in this district, all of which have been declared sensitive or hyper-sensitive.
Ganderbal town recorded 6.95 per cent of polling while the adjacent Kangan area recorded 16.9 per cent of polling by 1300 hours. The average percentage of the district was 11.9 per cent.
An unusual incident occured at Gutlibagh area where a group of 25 people cast their ballot at 9 AM and later resorted to pelting stones at the polling station to prevent others from casting their votes.