Shutdown in Srinagar on poll day

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Jammu and Kashmir
Srinagar, May 13: A shutdown is being observed in Srinagar on Wednesday, May 13 to thwart planned protests by separatists during the fifth and last phase of general elections.

Troops patrolled deserted streets in Srinagar, cutting off access to residential areas after separatists called for a two-day strike from Tuesday, May 13. Shops and businesses also remained closed.

Voting, however, is taking place in the Baramulla region of the valley.

The appeal by the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference to stay away from the vote in Baramulla, is seen as an attempt to deny New Delhi any credit for holding elections in the Himalayan region.

But Kashmiris are questioning whether such tactics have brought them any closer to the long-held goal of self-determination.

This is not the first time that separatists have given a call for poll boycott in the Kashmir Valley.

The separatists have had to suffer a major setback after residents defied a boycott call given by the Hurriyat during the State Assembly polls held in November 2008 and came out in large numbers to cast their votes.

A prominent Kashmiri separatist leader, Sajjad Lone, who had given a call for poll boycott during the state elections, has decided to contest during these general elections and raise the voices of Kashmiris in Parliament.

Besides the Congress party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the National Conference (NC) and the People's Democratic Party (PDP) are also contesting the elections.

ANI

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