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Militants kill panchayat poll candidate in Kashmir
Tejinder Singh Sodhi/TNS

Candidate withdraws

Hasina Begum’s killing has sent shockwaves amongst candidates in the Budgam district, who have been announcing the withdrawal of their candidature on the PA systems in local mosques. “I have withdrawn my nomination and am no longer in the fray. Contesting the elections would mean risking my life and that of my family,” Mohammad Yousuf, a panch candidate, announced

Budgam, April 16
In the first political killing in Kashmir since the panchayat polls got underway on Wednesday, militants allegedly shot dead a woman candidate at Karpora village in the district’s Pakherpora area yesterday night.

According to the police, Lashkar-e-Toiba militants barged into the house of Hasina Begum (40) and fired indiscriminately, injuring her seriously. She was rushed to the Pulwama district hospital where she succumbed to injuries. “Armed men entered our house and were very angry with my mother for filing her nomination for a panch seat when thousands of people had been killed in the Valley. They then opened fired,” said Hasina Begum’s son, Umar Maqbool.

Hasina was affiliated to the Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), though the panchayat elections are being held on a non-party basis. The 16-phase polling, which began on April 13, will end on June 18.

“Such acts simply shows the frustration of militants, who were annoyed that people defied their boycott call and came out in large numbers to vote,” a senior police officer said. Even as PDP president Mehbooba Mufti has called for a thorough investigation into Hasina’s killing, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said that participation in the elections could not be the only reason for the killing. This is the first panchayat poll in the state after a gap of 10 years and voters ignored the separatists’ call for boycott as they participated in the first phase of polling on Wednesday. Over 87 per cent turnout was recorded in Phase I.





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