Kashmir goes to polls amid shutdown, protests

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The voting for first phase of Parliament elections was held in the restive Kashmir region amid tight security, shutdown and uneasy calm.
The voting in volatile south Kashmir constituency kicked off on Thursday morning. However, most of the polling stations presented a deserted look with majority of people staying away from polling booths in response to a boycott call given by the region's pro-independence groups. Press TV team visited many polling stations in south Kashmir where we came across many empty booths with only polling staff present on duty.In some areas, voters did turn up to cast their ballot, however, their percentage was very little. Clashes between protesters and government forces were reported from several areas. Angry youth attacked a polling station with stones in Pulwama while shouting pro-independence and anti-India slogans. All the polling stations in the constituency were declared hypersensitive following the killing of several people including two village council heads.The latest killings have prompted series of resignations from the village council members. Posters apparently by region's biggest rebel group Hizbul Mujahideen, also surfaced in south Kashmir, asking people to boycott polls. Showing overwhelming response to the boycott calls, majority of eligible Kashmiri voters stayed away from polling booths. Observers say it is yet another reminder that elections can never be a stamp of approval for India's so-called democracy in Kashmir.

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