Srinagar By-Election: Farooq Abdullah Wins

SRINAGAR: Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah has won the closely-watched by-poll for the Srinagar parliamentary seat, defeating People’s Democratic Party’s Nazir Ahmed Khan. Voting for the parliamentary seat last week was marked by a record low turnout of 7 per cent and violence. When voting took place for a second time on Thursday, only 2 per cent voters turned up, the lowest in the history of the state.

There were nine candidates contesting the seat, but it was seen as a direct contest between Mr Abdullah and Mr Khan. Mr Abdullah, 79, had lost the seat to PDP’s Tariq Hameed Karra in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The seat fell vacant after Mr Karra resigned from the PDP and the Lok Sabha – he eventually joined the Congress which entered in a pre-poll alliance with the National Conference.

“These were the worst elections in history due to bloodshed. No doubt I have won but we have lost precious lives that’s why we are not happy with this win,” said Mr Abdullah.

The polling for Srinagar was marred with widespread violence. Eight people were killed in police firing and over a hundred were injured in clashes between protesters and security forces on the polling day on April 9, which saw a mere 7 per cent voter turnout.

Re-polling was held for 38 polling booths on Thursday which had seen most violence – but only 702 people turned up; in many booths, not a single vote was cast.

Of the nine candidates for the Srinagar constituency, five had pulled out in protest because they wanted the re-polling to be delayed, alleging that the current unrest does not allow for a free and fair election.

After schools that were to be used as voting centres were set on fire, and hundreds of protestors marched into voting centres shouting anti-India slogans on Sunday, the election from Anantnag, near Srinagar, was delayed to May. Among those who had asked for that was Tassaduq Hussain Mufti, the brother of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who is her party’s candidate from Anantnag.

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