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Srinagar bypoll records voter turnout of just 7.14%, 8 killed in violence

Eight persons were killed in firing and many, including securitymen, were injured in violent clashes Sunday during the bypoll to the prestigious Srinagar Lok Sabha seat which saw a voter turnout of only 7.14 per cent.

Official estimates put the injured count at 300 — 200 civilians and 100 security personnel.

Most of the incidents of stone-pelting and violent protests happened in Budgam, a district that traditionally records high voter turnout in the Valley — in the last Assembly election, the turnout in the district was 59.11 per cent.

Six protesters were killed in firing at four different places. Two more deaths were reported in the evening — a Ganderbal man succumbed to injuries at the SKIMS Hospital and an 18-year-old died at Barsoo.

A polling booth in Ganderbal was set ablaze after protesters hurled petrol bombs.

The Srinagar Lok Sabha seat is spread over three districts — Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal — and the main contestants for the seat are Farooq Abdullah, joint candidate of the National Conference and Congress, and Nazir Ahmad Khan, nominee of the ruling PDP.

The seat fell vacant after Tariq Hameed Karra of the PDP resigned to protest the crackdown on street protesters last year.

Internet services were down at most places as polling began this morning. By noon, 118 polling stations had already closed.

Official figures put the voter turnout at a record low of 7.14 per cent, revised from 6.5 per cent announced earlier.

In the evening, J&K Chief Electoral Officer Shantmanu told reporters: “As of now, a little above 80,000 votes were polled which makes it a poll percentage of 6.5… (It) is much less than 26 per cent which was the polling percentage in the last election in 2014… not a good day for all of us.”

“There were incidents of stone pelting. Petrol bombs were hurled and a polling booth was set ablaze. EVMs were also damaged in the process but many of these EVMs were received back. There were firing incidents and we lost six lives,” he said.