Kashmir by-elections: Protesters clashed with security forces in several areas. (PTI photo)
New Delhi: A record low turnout and a high incidence of violence were witnessed on Sunday during the by-election in the parliamentary seat of Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir. As nearly 200 instances of violence were recorded in Kashmir, in which eight people died and about 100 security personnel were injured, the turnout was found to be 7 per cent - the lowest in 30 years. The violence took place as protesters targeted poll booths amid a boycott call by separatists. By-elections for assembly and parliamentary seats were held in eight other states on Sunday. Violence was also reported from Ater, Madhya Pradesh, in which several people were said to be injured. Elections will be held in three more states on April 12. The counting of votes will take place on April 13 and April 15.
Here is the 10-point guide on the key by-polls in 12 states:
In Kashmir, the incidents of violence included stone throwing and petrol bomb attacks and one poll booth also set ablaze, the Election Commission said. The separatists have called for a two-day strike from Monday to protest the deaths.
Several people killed in Budgam's Charar-e-Sharif, Beerwah, Chadoora and Narbal. The security forces had opened fire after a mob attacked the polling station at Dalwan village and damaged EVMs to stop polling. Mobs also torched a bus and damaged EVMs at a polling station in Beerwah and elsewhere in Budgam, police said.
Two poll booths in Ater, Madhya Pradesh, reported violence, cars were damaged and gunshots were heard. Several people were said to be injured.
West Delhi's Rajouri Garden -- which fell vacant after the ruling Aam Aadmi Party fielded Jarnail Singh in the Punjab assembly elections - also recorded a low turnout of 11 per cent. AAP blamed it on confusion over poll dates. AAP's Harjeet Singh, Congress's Meenakshi Chandela and BJP-SAD's Manjinder Singh Sirsa are in the race for the constituency.
The elections in Ater were held in the wake of a controversy over an EVM demonstration video. The opposition had alleged that the demonstration by an Election Commission official had proved tampering of the machines to favour the BJP in the recently concluded by-elections.
Two assembly seats of Karnataka, Gundlupet and Nanjangud, also voted on Sunday amid a controversy over a video purportedly showing BS Yeddyurappa handing money to voters. The video emerged on Saturday -- a day after the opposition BJP lodged a cash for votes complaint against Congress leader Lakshmi Hebbalkar.
Voting was also held in Rajasthan's Dholpur, West Bengal's Kanthi Dakshin assembly seat, BJP-stronghold Bhoranj in Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand's Litipara and Assam's Dhemaji.
Dhemaji in Assam, where 66% polling was witnessed, had perennial floods and erosion as the key poll issues. While the BJP fielded seasoned politician Ranoj Pegu, the Congress brought in popular leader Babul Sonowal. The by-polls are seen as battle for resurgence for the Congress. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was the MP from this region before winning the assembly polls last year.
In Srinagar, the stakes are high for National Conference patriarch Dr Farooq Abdullah, who is contesting against Peoples' Democratic Party's Nazir Khan. Altogether, nine candidates are in fray for the seat that fell vacant after PDP leader Tariq Hameed Karra resigned in the aftermath of the protests following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani.
The next round of by-polls includes the one in Chennai's RK Nagar - made necessary after the death of former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. But Election Commission sources on Sunday said the by-poll could be cancelled following the allegations of cash distribution for votes by the VK Sasikala faction.