SRINAGAR: The cavalcade of Mehbooba Mufti was attacked by an angry mob in the restive south Kashmir today. While the former chief minister escaped unscathed in the attack, one of her escort vehicles was damaged.

According to sources, the PDP chief was scheduled to address a rally in Bijbehara town of the poll-bound Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency.

“She had paid obeisance at Khiram shrine and was on way to attend a workers convention in Bijbehara when an angry mob targeted her convoy with stones,” police sources said.

They said the attack took place so swiftly that the security forces accompanying the Peoples Democratic Chief as part of her security cover were unable to react. “One escort vehicle was also damaged,” sources said.

The PDP chief however escaped unscathed during the attack which prompted a search operation in the area. Police said a heavy contingent of armed forces was rushed to the area which provided safe passage to Mehbooba.

“Searches are going on to nab the attackers. However, no arrests have been made so far,” a police officer said.

This is the first such incident in the poll-bound Anantnag constituency, which was once termed as the bastion of the Peoples Democratic Party. In 2014 state elections, the party had won 11 out of 16 assembly constituencies from this area.

The Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency comprises of Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian districts where the election commission of India, fearing law and order breakdown, has announced that polling will be held in three phases on April 23, April 29 and May 6.

Mehbooba, Mufti whose coalition government was toppled after BJP pulled out in 2018, is seeking a reelection from this important constituency that has transformed into an epicentre of ‘new age insurgency’ in the aftermath of the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani in 2016.

Mufti was elected to Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency in 2014. However, she vacated the seat in 2016 after the demise of her father, Mufti Sayeed, forced her to return to the state politics. The election commission delayed the by-poll to the Anantnag seat on two ocassions due to security concerns.

The PDP chief is taking on National Conference’s Hasnain Masoodi, a former J&K high court judge, state Congress chief G A Mir and the BJP’s Muslim face of Valley, Sofi Yousuf, who is also a legislator in the state’s upper house.

Compared with the Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency, where election was held on April 11, and Srinagar constituency which is going to polls on April 18, Anantnag constituency has witnessed low-key political activities amid fears of militant attacks.