SRINAGAR: Municipal polls in the Kashmir Valley began today on a tense note amid unprecedented security measures and a complete shutdown, with the authorities enforcing strict restrictions in poll-bound areas.

Separatists have been either jailed or placed under house-arrest, with the state government deploying 40,000 additional central paramilitary troopers besides police and other forces numbering over a hundred thousand, to secure polling booths.

However, the threat of militant attacks looms large over the elections, with most polling booths wearing a deserted look.

A Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from Bandipora was reportedly injured in a stone-pelting incident. Police said Adil Ahmad Buhru, who is contesting from the Ward No. 15 of the district, was injured as anti-election protesters pelted stones at him when he was going to cast his vote at a polling booth.

In another incident, Mohammad Akram Wani, an independent candidate from the same district’s Ward No. 14, alleged bogus voting at the behest of a Congress legislator. He accused the legislator, whose brother is in the election fray, of using personal security officers to cast votes.

The elections are witnessing a tepid response across the Valley, with authorities shutting down mobile internet in south Kashmir and reducing internet speed to 2G in the rest of the region.

The majority of the 57 poll-bound wards in six districts of the Kashmir Valley recorded single-digit polling percentages till 1 pm, except Kupwara and Budgam, where 26.3% and 12% percent of eligible voters cast their votes. “At some polling booths, not even one vote was polled,” sources said.

“Anantnag recorded 6.1%, Budgam 12%, Bandipora 2.5%, Baramulla 3.7%, Kupwara 26.3%, Srinagar 5.1%, Leh 44.2%, Kargil 73.6%, Jammu 43.4%, Poonch 63.5% and Rajouri 67.7% votes till 1 pm,” an official said.

(Cover Photo: BASIT ZARGAR)