Voting is currently underway for the fifth phase of the District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir. Polling began on a dull note as the winter chill kept most people indoors early on Thursday. However, if a tweet by former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is to be taken into account, things seem to have taken a far more grim turn.
The politician alleged that the armed forces were being used to rig the elections to "favour a particular party".
"Security forces have cordoned Matribugh in Shopian and are not allowing people to come out to vote under the pretext of inputs about presence of militants," the PDP chief alleged on Thursday morning.
This is not the only time in recent days that Mufti had alleged that unfair restrictions were being imposed.
"Illegally detained today for the third time in less than a fortnight. Too much democracy indeed. If my movements are curbed due to ‘security concerns’ then why are BJP ministers allowed to campaign freely in Kashmir while Ive been asked to wait until culmination of DDC elections?" she had tweeted a day earlier.
Thursday's allegations however are not the first untoward incident to have overshadowed the recent polls. A few days earlier, an election candidate was shot even as the third phase of polling was underway. At the time, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had condemned the situation, calling it "disturbing".
In this phase of elections, 37 DDC seats are up for grabs. 17 of these are in the Kashmir division and 20 in the Jammu division. According to the officials, voter turnout is expected to pick up later in the day. The polling is scheduled to conclude at 2 PM.
As many as 2,104 polling stations have been setup across the union territory -- 914 in the Jammu division and 1,190 in the Kashmir division. Of these polling stations, 1,193 are hypersensitive, 472 are sensitive and 439 have been categorised as normal.
(With inputs from agencies)