World / Asia-Pacific

Voting for second phase of elections in Indian-controlled Kashmir starts

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-12-02 14:03

SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir -- Voting for the second phase of local elections in Indian-controlled Kashmir began Tuesday amid fears and stringent security measures, officials said.

The voting began in the morning at 8:00 a.m. (local time) and would go on until 4:00 p.m.

"With a record turnout registering 71 percent voting in the first phase, the second phase of the elections is going to the polls today covering 18 constituencies," a government spokesman said.

"During the first hour of polling, men, women and elderly people have been seen standing in queues outside polling stations to exercise their franchise."

According to officials, over 1.5 million voters are expected to exercise their franchise at 2,181 polling stations set up across 18 assembly constituencies in five districts.

According to Indian election commission, voters would seal the fate of 175 candidates in the second phase by pressing buttons of the electronic voting machines.

Reports pouring in from Kulgam and Kupwara said people in the first hour preferred to stay indoors due to cold weather and heavy blanket of fog.

Authorities have deployed thousands of policemen and India's paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in the poll bound areas to prevent disruption of polling.

Late on Sunday a rural body head affiliated with pro-India National Conference (NC) was shot dead by militants in Shopian. Likewise, another rural body member having association with pro- India Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was fired upon and critically wounded late Monday in the district.

Thousands of voters defied boycott call given by separatists and militant groups in the first phase and turned up to cast their votes. The first phase recorded over 70 percent of turnout.

Separatist groups and militants opposing New Delhi's rule in the region reject Indian elections and have urged people to boycott the exercise.

Police have detained several separatist leaders and dozens of their supporters ahead of elections to prevent them from launching poll boycott campaign.

A local newspaper Greater Kashmir quoting police officials Tuesday said police have arrested at least 280 youth from Kupwara and Kulgam districts to "ensure peaceful polling".

Tuesday marks the second phase of five phase staggered polling in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

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