Brisk polling in Kashmir amidst separatists” opposition

November 17th, 2008 - 7:01 pm ICT by ANI  

Sumbal (J-K), Nov 17 (ANI): Brisk voting continues in Jammu and Kashmir during the first of the seven-phase polling on Monday amidst mild protests from separatists.
Ten constituencies in Leh, Kargil, Bandipora and Poonch districts are voting on Monday.
Sumbal in Bandipora district went to polls with mild protests from a small group of protestors.
Separatist leaders have called for a boycott saying New Delhi will use draconian anti-terror laws and its thousands of troops to try to legitimise their rule.
Meanwhile Sumbal witnessed a large turnout of voters to cast their ballot. They included voters who were voting for the first time.
“I have come to cast my vote for the first time here because it is important to have elections in this region and I am sure our problems will be solved by whoever I choose,” said Tasleema.
Control of Kashmir is principally split between India and Pakistan, with a sparsely inhabited stretch of Himalayan plateau also held by China.
The Indian-ruled part of Jammu and Kashmir, is made up of the Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley, the Hindu-majority Jammu region and mainly Buddhist in Ladakh.
Ignoring the separatists” call for boycott of polls, the voters said that this is a good opportunity for them to select a leader of their choice who could not only solve their problems but would also resolve Kashmir dispute with Pakistan.
“This is for the first time people have come in large numbers to cast their vote. We do not want to boycott the polls because elections will help us to choose a leader whom we can approach with our problems to be solved,” said Manzoor Ahmed.
The Kashmir valley remains the focus of the vote after police killed at least 42 people this year during pro-independence protests.
The government is hoping for a decent turnout to bolster the legitimacy of democracy and its rule in Kashmir — all the parties competing on Monday broadly supporting Indian rule.
Separatists predict a low turnout in the Kashmir Valley. (ANI)

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