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2nd Phase of Elections Held in Indian-Controlled Kashmir


The second phase of polling for the legislative assembly in Indian-administered Kashmir were held today amid heavy security arrangements. As Shahnawaz Khan reports, the polls that began on November 17 will be held in seven phases through December 24.

It was yet another day of an undeclared curfew in Srinagar and major towns of Indian-administered Kashmir. Heavy deployment of troops prevented people from coming out in response to an election-boycott march called by Kashmiri separatists.

In Ganderbal and Kangan constituencies voting picked up early. There were lesser crowds than seen in the first phase, but despite the boycott call by separatists many people voted.

Mehraj-uddin was waiting for his turn to vote in a long line in Watlar village of Ganderbal district.

He says the village has remained very backward in the past six years, and voters came out to choose a candidate who would bring some development to the area.

Apart from Kangan and Ganderbal, four constituencies of Jammu province also voted. Officials said 40 percent voting was recorded until afternoon.

At some places like Kurhama in Ganderbal district, anti- election protesters clashed with police and raised pro-freedom slogans.

The protesters accused police and troops of barging into their houses and beating residents.

The protesters chanted, "We want only freedom. We are boycotting the polls. We will not vote at any cost."

The separatist alliance, All Parties Hurriyat Conference, said authorities were using undemocratic means to suppress poll-boycott campaigns.

Authorities have detained more than two dozen separatists in recent weeks, some of them under the infamous Public Safety Act, which allows detention up to two years without trial. Calls for separatist marches or protests are met by undeclared curfews.

Saturday, police shot dead two anti-election election protesters in Baramulla, fueling further protests.

Kashmir has seen some of the biggest pro-freedom demonstrations in the past few months.

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