Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Barring a few complaints of rigging and stray incidents of violence, the first phase of assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday passed of peacefully.
Police said a Punjab police jawan, Jarnail Singh, was killed when militants fired indiscriminately at a polling station located in a school in Sar village in Gursai area of Poonch.
Another jawan was injured in the attack, for which the Pakistan-backed Jamait-ul-Mujahideen claimed responsibility.
Militants fired a rocket at a polling booth in Shri Khwaja in Poonch. The rocket missed the target and fell near a cluster of houses, killing an 18-year-old boy.
Militants fired a rocket on a polling station at Khaniyal in Thanamandi area of Rajouri at around 0600 IST, an hour before the polling began. No casualties or injuries were reported, sources said.
Two persons were injured when militants hurled hand grenades at a polling booth at Shahlal near Handwara in northern Kupwara district.
Security forces averted a major incident by defusing an improvised explosive device in a polling station in Rafiabad constituency of Baramulla district shortly after the booth was opened.
In the higher reaches of Surankote in Poonch, security forces killed five militants on Monday morning.
At a press conference in the evening, Chief Electoral Officer Pramod Jain evaded questions about people being coerced to vote. "We have not received any complaints. The security forces have not coerced anyone," Jain said. When specific instances were pointed out, he said: "These are sad incidents."
Jain rejected charges of discrimination against polling agents belonging to parties other than the ruling National Conference.
There were allegations of discrimination against local polling staff too. The Election Commission has requisitioned around 5,000 polling staff from Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. While they were provided with bullet-proof jackets, their local counterparts were not.
"We did not have sufficient bullet-proof jackets. We will look at providing it to the local staff in the next phase of election," J&K Chief Secretary A S Malhi said.
With inputs from Basharat Peer.
Jammu and Kashmir Elections 2002: The complete coverage
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