Militants attack rural body member ahead of second phase of elections in Indian-controlled Kashmir

Source:Xinhua Published: 2014-12-2 13:44:33

Suspected militants shot and wounded a rural body head (locally called Sarpanch) in restive Indian-controlled Kashmir hours ahead of second phase of local elections, police said Tuesday.

The attack was carried out at Suggan- Shopian district, about 50 km south of Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian- controlled Kashmir.

"Militants late Monday fired upon Sheeraz Ahmad Bhat of Suggan and wounded him critically," a police official said.

"He suffered multiple bullet wounds and was immediately hospitalized at a locality medical facility, where from he was referred to Srinagar."

Bhat was elected as Sarpanch in 2011 rural body elections and is an active worker of pro-India Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), locals said.

The attack on Bhat came a day after killing of a rural body head of National Conference (NC) in the Shopian.

The attacks have created panic in the district. Police officials said such attacks from militants aimed at forcing people to boycott the elections.

In the first phase of elections people ignored the boycott call from separatist and militant groups and turned out to cast their votes. Officials said the first phase recorded over 70 percent turnout.

Polling for the second phase across 18 Assembly segments began early Tuesday and was going on peacefully, officials said.

So far no militant outfit has claimed responsibility of the attacks on rural body heads.

The five-phase staggered polls for local elections in the restive region began on Nov. 25 and would end on Dec. 20.

India has sent 520 additional companies of paramilitary troops to strengthen the security grid during upcoming elections.

Separatist militant groups opposing New Delhi's rule in the region reject Indian elections and usually urge people to boycott the exercise.

Though regional parties like NC and PDP usually have main role in government making, this year India's right-wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) is aiming at winning 44 plus seats in the 87-strong assembly (lawmaking body).

BJP banks heavily on Modi's charisma and has been carrying out an aggressive media campaign in print and electronic media to lure region's voters to achieve what it says "mission 44 plus".

The Congress party too has a vote bank in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

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