Day ahead of polls, it’s like curfew in Kashmir

December 12th, 2008 - 1:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Dec 12 (IANS) Streets in this Jammu and Kashmir summer capital were deserted Friday and shops and offices closed as authorities imposed restrictions in response to separatists calling for peaceful protests against the ongoing state elections.The joint coordination committee of both the separatist Hurriyat groups issued a statement calling for businesses to be shut down and peaceful demonstrations after the Friday prayers. It also appealed to the people to march to the south Kashmir district headquarters of Pulwama and Shopian where voting for the fifth phase of elections will be held Saturday.

Leaders of both the factions of the Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, were placed under house arrest to prevent their participation in the proposed separatist protests Friday and Saturday.

Traffic remained off the roads as businesses, shops, educational institutions and banks closed following strict restrictions imposed by the authorities.

“These are preventive restrictions to ensure that miscreants do not disturb peace in the city,” a senior police officer said here.

Similar reports came in from other parts of the Kashmir Valley.

Six south Kashmir constituencies of Pampore, Tral, Pulwama, Rajpora, Wachi and Shopian go to vote Saturday.

“All arrangements of security, poll staff, electronic voting machines (EVMs) and sanitisation of areas around polling stations are in place for tomorrow’s polling,” a poll official told IANS here.

In the first four rounds of the seven phased elections that end Dec 24, voter turnout has been around 60 percent.

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