Clashes as Kashmiri vote reaches final stage

Kashmiris have protested against Indan vote, thousands of troops were deployed since the beginning of the elections, which has reached the last stage.

Clashes as Kashmiri vote reaches final stage

India has deployed thousands of troops since the beginning of the elections which has reached the last stage although Kashmiris have protested against Indan ruling, saying the polls was not solution.

Sporadic clashes broke out between Indian police and Kashmiris after voting opened in Kashmir's main city on Wednesday, police said.

Polling stations in Srinagar saw only a trickle of voters in the first hours after they opened, witnesses and officials said.

Kashmiris and Human right organisations condemned India to use forces over civilians, killing at least 50 and wounded 1000 Kashmiris during pro-independence demonstraitons in recent mounths and restricting social life.

In Srinagar, the heart of a nearly 20-year pro-independence campaign against Indian rule, police said at least nine people were injured when police clashed with dozens of protesters in three areas. Two police were among the injured.

Police fired batons and teargas.

Muslim-majority Srinagar, Kashmir's summer capital, and the Hindu-majority city of Jammu, the state's winter capital, both went to the polls on Wednesday.

In Srinagar, police and soldiers armed with assault rifles blocked off lanes with razor wire and iron barricades and sniffer dogs searched polling booths for bombs.

Pro-independent Kashmiris, many of them in jail, have called for a boycott of the seven-stage polls saying India portrays voting as an endorsement of its occupation over the disputed Himalayan region, and have urged people to march to the U.N. office in Srinagar.

Nearly 1.7 million voters are eligible to cast their votes in the last phase. At least 393 candidates are contesting elections for 87 assembly seats across the state, with 21 in total up for grabs in Jammu and Srinagar cities.

Police said they had been conducting raids in the entire state over the past few days to thwart trouble.

Kashmiris and also the vote had been overshadowed by heightened tension between India and Pakistan, which both claim Kashmir, after last month's Mumbai attacks.

India accuses the assault of the Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was set up to fight Indian occupation in Kashmir.

Reuters
Last Mod: 24 Aralık 2008, 14:12
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