Six civilians were killed Sunday in Indian-administered Kashmir when police opened fire on protesters who stormed polling stations during a byelection for a parliamentary seat, a top officer has said.
State and paramilitary police fired bullets and shotgun pellets as thousands of protesters who were shouting slogans against Indian rule charged into voting booths in Budgam district near the main city of Srinagar.
“Violent protests happened at many places in Budgam. Protesters damaged and snatched EVMs (electronic voting machines] at some places,” Shantmanu, the state’s chief electoral officer who uses one name. “It was not a good day for all of us. Six civilians were killed and 70 were wounded.”
Hospital sources in Srinagar said that many of the injured had gunshot wounds. Shantmanu said more than 100 government personnel, including police and paramilitary officers injured in the clashes.
Polling had to be halted in more than dozen places amid a call for a boycott of the byelection by top Kashmiri separatist leaders opposed to Indian rule.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British rule in 1947. Both countries claim the disputed territory in its entirety.