Coercion was evident, Govt inflated figures: Geelani

BANDIPORE: Locals from Bandipore have alleged that the army soldiers thrashed some people when they were on their way to a polling station. CNS quoted locals from Nowpora area of Bandipore district as said that on the instructions of an Army officer, Indian soldiers beat them to pulp without any provocation. They said that even the said Army officer hit some of the people with gun butts. “We fail to understand why we were beaten up. We were on way to a polling station to cast our vote when the said Army officer stopped us and thrashed us,” a local said. The Army action sparked protest in the area while reports said that soon after this incident, majority of the people abstained from voting while groups of youth took to streets and pelted stones on Nowpora polling booth. The clashes between and government forces continued for hours.

Reports said that Army personnel allegedly went on a rampage in Bandipore after protestors resorted to heavy stone-pelting in Bandipore and locked three polling stations established in ITI Bandipore. Eyewitnesses said that groups of youth locked polling station numbers 27E, 69B and 70C and made polling staff some police personnel hostage for hours. It was only after the intervention of Army that all these polling stations were freed from the protestors. Locals alleged that Army personnel thrashed even those people who had come out form their houses to cast their vote.

Meanwhile Chairman of  Hurriyat G, Syed Ali Geelani, while condemning the army atrocities in the district has questioned the official figures about the turnout . “Indian army left no stone unturned to force the people of Tangdar, Uri, Gureez and Bandipore to vote in elections, but despite the tremendous pressure from the army, people showed courage and stayed away from the election drama.”

Naming Major Ragu of 14-RR, Geelani said,  "The army officer roamed without uniform in Bandipore areas and threatened the locals to cast votes, but the bold and brave people resisted him and took out a huge procession and raised anti-India, anti-election, pro-Islam and pro-freedom slogans.”

While terming the people from Lolab, Lalpora, Trehgam, Kupwara, Baramulla, Sopore, Bandipore, Pattan, Palhalan, Dooru, Sumbal and Sonawari as the assets of the freedom movement, Geelani said that these people "are filled with the emotions of freedom and the people of Kashmir have made a history by boycotting elections."

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