Indian-administered Kashmir has wrapped up its seventh and final stage of voting
in state elections that were marked by protests and separatist boycotts.
Government troops used tear gas and batons to
disperse protesters from polling stations in the summer capital, Srinagar,
Wednesday. Authorities say at least 20 people were injured.
Heavy troop deployments and restrictions on movement of people
made Srinagar look like a city under a curfew.
Muslim separatists boycott vote
Many Muslim separatists boycotted
the election saying it only serves to legitimize India's control over Kashmir
which is claimed by both India and Pakistan.
Rouf Ahmad is a Srinagar resident. He said the people did not
vote because of the bad situation and he said authorities drag people from homes
and kill them whenever anything happens. He said he will only vote after freedom
Officials say about 20
percent of Srinagar voters cast ballots in the Muslim-majority city, far more
than the five percent who voted in the 2002 elections. But even among the people
who voted in Srinagar, not many were happy with the situation.
Some voters unhappy with process
Irshad Ahmad a resident of
Srinagar voted but was unhappy with the process.
"This is no free and fair election. Democracy needs liberation
of mind of heart. But you see all over the [Kashmir] Valley has been turned into
an army [camp]. Everywhere you see army personnel," Ahmed said.
In the Hindu-majority city of Jammu, about 65 percent of voters
went to the polls.
Voter turnout was higher in
other parts of the region during earlier phases of the seven-stage election.
Top Kashmiri separatist Mirwaiz Umar says that many people came
out to vote to try and focus the attention of the government on their day to day
"We do acknowledge that in
many places people have voluntarily voted, they have voted for a good
governance, better governance, but that vote should never be misconstrued as
vote against freedom," Umar said.
The vote concludes a year that has been marked by some of the
biggest protests against Indian rule since a Muslim insurgency began in 1989.
Preliminary results from the state elections are expected by