Srinagar By-Polls 2017: Stakes High For National Conference's Farooq Abdullah As Voting Begins Amid Tight Security

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Srinagars polling stations are declared either sensitive or hyper-sensitive amid threats from terrorists

Srinagar:  Voting began in the by-polls of the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat. Adequate security arrangements are made, after miscreants tried to scare the electorate. For the Srinagar seat, nine candidates are in the fray. More than 1,500 polling stations have been set up for nearly 12.61 lakh electorate. National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, who is the candidate of his party and the Congress jointly, will take on the ruling PDP's candidate Nazir Ahmad Khan in a virtual direct contest.

Internet services in three districts falling under the Srinagar Parliamentary constituency, going to polls today, were shut down from midnight as a precautionary measure to prevent floating of rumours by anti-national elements.

All the polling stations have been declared as either sensitive or hyper-sensitive keeping in mind threats from various terror outfits and separatist groups, including the Hurriyat Conference, an election official said.

The seat fell vacant following resignation of PDP leader Tariq Hameed Karra, both from the Lower House of Parliament and his party, in protest against the "atrocities" on people during the agitation in the summer last year in the wake of killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8.

Mr Abdullah tasted his first electoral defeat in his over 35-year-long political career when he lost to Karra in 2014 general elections. Mr Karra, who has since joined the Congress, is now supporting the National Conference president in the by-polls.

Mr Khan, on the other hand, joined the PDP after quitting the Congress in February and was announced the candidate by the ruling party for the by-polls.

Director General of Police SP Vaid said security has been tightened and forces have been deployed in adequate number to thwart any attempt to disrupt the polls.

"We are completely geared up to meet any challenge from anti-social elements," Mr Vaid, who has been camping here, told PTI, adding clear instructions have been passed on to the security personnel to ensure smooth conduct of the election.

Voter turnout in Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency in 2014 polls was 26 per cent, slightly better than 25.55 per cent recorded in 2009 elections.

The disruptive elements have made several unsuccessful attempts to scare the voters from the elections and tried to target the polling staff.

Unidentified persons on Thursday night tried to set a school building on fire, designated as a polling station, in Narbal area of Budgam district but their attempt was foiled by police personnel posted there, the DGP said.

In another incident, a group of miscreants hurled stones at polling staff in Beerwah area of the district yesterday but they were chased away by security forces using batons and firing tear smoke shells, a police official said.

Besides Srinagar, polling began in two places each in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh.

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