26 per cent voter turnout was recorded when the polling concluded at 5 p.m. in the Srinagar-Budgam constituency

The death of a civilian in police firing marred polling in the Srinagar-Budgam constituency, which recorded 26 per cent voter turnout in the fourth phase of polling in the State on Wednesday.

National Conference supremo and Union Cabinet Minister Dr. Farooq Abdullah is seeking a mandate for his third Lok Sabha term from the seat. Peoples Democratic Party leader Tariq Hameed Karra is pitted against him.

According to official sources, around 25 polling stations were attacked by unruly groups enforcing the separatists’ boycott call, mostly in downtown Srinagar and the semi-urban neighbourhoods of Budgam district.

Following the The death of a civilian in police firing tensions intensified in the already tense Capital that largely stayed away from polling. Sources said a crowd of over 50 anti-election demonstrators attacked a polling party near Braripora in Srinagar interior around 6.15 p.m.

The police and the CRPF escort opened fire to disperse the crowd. Waseem Ahmad Bhat, who was injured in the firing, died in the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura. Separatist leaders, including the Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and the detained JKLF chief Yasin Malik, have called for a shutdown on Thursday.

While most of the people said they abstained due to the call for boycott from almost all the separatist political groups, some of the voters complained that they stayed indoors for fear of attacks by stone pelting groups.

At the end of the day’s polling, some of the polling parties were attacked by protesters when the EVMs were being carried to the fortified Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Complex. Some of the officials were reported to be injured.

However, Returning Officer Farooq Shah told The Hindu that polling was carried out peacefully and none of the EVMs was damaged in the attacks.

26% turnout

Chief Electoral Officer Umang Narula said 26 per cent voter turnout was recorded when the polling concluded at 5 p.m. It was a slight improvement over the 25.55 per cent turnout in 2009 and remarkably higher than 18.57 per cent in 2004.

He said the turnout was a modest 45.61 per cent in Ganderbal and 39.5 per cent in Budgam but as low as 11.46 per cent in Srinagar district.

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