The voting for for the bypolls to the prestigious Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency of Kashmir began early morning on Saturday amid tight security.
More than 1,500 polling stations have been set up for nearly 12.61 lakh electorate. Polling began at 7 am and will end at 5 in the evening.
All the polling stations have been declared as either sensitive or hyper-sensitive keeping in mind threats from various militant outfits and separatist groups, including the Hurriyat Conference.
Internet services shut down in three districts
Internet services in three districts falling under the constituency have been shut down from the midnight as a precautionary measure to prevent floating of rumours by anti-national elements.
The three districts of Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal will have no Internet connections amid reports that Pakistan-based groups were engaged in spreading false information on the eve of polls, official sources said.
They said the ban would be removed immediately after polling ends in the Lok Sabha seat for which National Conference president Farooq Abdullah was having a virtual direct contest with ruling PDP's Nazir Khan.
Nine candidates candidates in fray; direct contest between Farooq Abdulla and Nazir Khan
Nine candidates including National Conference President Farooq Abdullah are in the fray in the bypolls.
The by-poll in Srinagar was necessitated by resignation of then PDP leader and member Lok Sabha Tariq Hameed Karra last year to protest against the "atrocities" by security forces during the summer unrest triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujhaideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8.
Abdullah, who is the candidate of his party and the Congress jointly, had tasted his first electoral defeat in his over 35-year-long political career when he lost to Karra in 2014 general elections. Karra, who has since joined the Congress, is now supporting the National Conference president in the bypolls.
Khan, on the other hand, joined the PDP after quitting the Congress in February and was announced the candidate by the ruling party for the bypolls.
Voter turnout in Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency in 2014 polls was 26 per cent, slightly better than 25.55 per cent recorded in 2009 elections.
Miscreants attack polling staff, stations
Stone-pelting incidents were reported from various parts of Budgam and Ganderbal area in which two police personnel were injured.
Crowds indulged in stone pelting in Chadoora, Beerwah, main town Budgam and Pandich and Wakoora in Ganderbal, official sources said, adding one CRPF constable was injured in Budgam and at Wakoora in Ganderbal.
Polling staff and polling stations were attacked in Kashmir's Budgam district by miscreants, police said on Saturday.
Police was making all attempts to prevent mob from growing bigger and bigger and at places it had to resort to tear gas shelling to disperse the mob.
Some miscreants tried to set ablaze a government school building, designated as a polling station, in Narbal area of Budgam district late Friday night, DGP S P Vaid said.
In a separate incident, a group of youth pelted stones at polling staff, who were on their way to a polling station, in Beerwah area of Budgam on yesterday morning, a police official said.
The police swung into action and chased away the accused, the official said, adding no one was hurt in the brief clashes.
(With PTI inputs)