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Protester Killed During Voting in Indian Kashmir


One person has died and several were injured as police clashed with protesters in Indian administered Kashmir during the fifth phase of seven-phased elections on Saturday.

Violence broke out early in the fifth phase of elections in Indian-administered Kashmir. Hundreds of anti-election protesters took to streets in Koil village of Pulwama district in Southern Kashmir and staged demonstrations. The demonstrators met resistance from the police.

Police also chased away demonstrators at several other places in the district.

Ishtiyaq Ahmad Ashai is the top civilian official in Pulwama district. "At Karimabad and Paigaon we had some minor incidents which have been brought under control, however some of our police personnel got injured," he said. "However at Koil, fire had to open [there was firing] which has resulted in injuries to three persons, who have been shifted to hospital."

Early in the morning an undeclared curfew was in efffect in Srinagar and major towns to prevent separatist marches. Eleven constituencies spread over three districts in Kashmir went to the polls Saturday.

Kashmiri separatists have called for a voting boycott, citing the fact that India uses elections to justify its control over the region. Most of the separatists have been either detained or put under house arrest in the last two months to prevent the poll boycott campaign. Some of them have been booked under the infamous Public Safety Act that allows detention without a trial for up to two years. Undeclared curfews and restrictions have prevented Friday prayers in Kashmir's largest mosque for the last six weeks.

Despite the boycott call an unprecedented number of people have cast their votes in the first four phases of voting.

The heavy turn out in Kashmir, where anti-India sentiment runs deep, has surprised many Kashmiri analysts. Weeks before the polls began, Kashmir had seen some of the largest pro-freedom demonstrations in decades.

The seven phased staggered voting process in Kashmir began on November 17 and will conclude on December 24.

The staggered process allows authorities to move and deploy thousands of troops in each area to prevent violence and poll disruptions.

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