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High Turnout in 2nd Round of Indian Kashmir Polls

  • VOA News

Officials in Indian Kashmir say turnout was high in the second phase of elections for the legislative assembly that took place Sunday amid tight security. The officials say about 65 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the six districts that held the vote.

The voting occurred despite a boycott by Muslim separatists who say the elections will strengthen India's control over the region. Police used batons to disperse protesters from a polling station in Ganderbal district, but no major violence was reported.

The first phase of state elections was held November 17th and the seventh and last will take place on December 24th. The separatist alliance, All Parties Hurriyat Conference, said authorities were using undemocratic means to suppress poll-boycott campaigns. Authorities have arrested more than two dozen separatists in recent weeks, and police shot and killed two demonstrators Saturday in Baramulla district, fueling further protests.

Indian Kashmir was put under federal rule in July, when the state government collapsed following a series of violent demonstrations triggered by a land dispute. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both. Islamic separatists have been fighting since 1989 for Kashmir's independence from India, or for its merger with Muslim-dominated Pakistan. About 70-thousand people, mostly civilians, have died in the violent campaign.

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