Polling for AJK Legislative Assembly underway,2 PTI workers killed in clash at polling station
At least two PTI workers were killed in a clash with PPP activists at a polling station in the Kotli district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir as polling for 45 seats of the AJK Legislative Assembly started on Sunday.
The two PTI activists were shot dead by unidentified persons at a polling station in the jurisdiction of Naarr police station in Charhoi, Kotli, according to police.
Muhammad Shabbir, an official at Naarr police station, identified the victims as 40-year-old Zaheer Ahmed and 50-year-old Ramzan. He added that the clash erupted between PPP and PTI workers at about 9:15am at the Mithi Jand polling station. In the ensuing gunfire, Ahmed was killed on the spot and Ramzan died on the way to the hospital.
Meanwhile, the PPP has complained to the AJK Election Commission, alleging that PTI workers were using force to influence the voting process.
In a letter addressed to the AJK Election Commission’s secretary, PPP’s Central Election Cell incharge Taj Haider said that the chief polling agent for the LA-30 constituency was arrested “immediately after the start of polling in order to influence the election of our candidate”.
The chief polling officer’s house was also attacked three days ago, Haider said, asking the commission to order the officer’s immediate release.
In a separate letter, Haider complained that PTI workers had “captured” the Mandol Bazaar polling station in the LA-18 constituency and “ballot papers were being stamped by them.”
In a third such letter, Haider said PTI workers “with the support of the administration are stopping PPP voters from casting votes” at the polling station located in 84 Middle School in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Katiala for the LA-6 constituency.
Voting in some polling stations of other constituencies was also temporarily suspended due to incidents of violence. Several people were reportedly injured in clashes and a number of political activists were also detained by the police, according to reports.
The elections come after weeks of a highly charged and divisive election campaign that saw politicians from the three mainstream parties — the PTI, PPP and PML-N hurl allegations at each other.
The polling started at 8am and will go on until 5pm without any break, according to a report by Radio Pakistan.
Media persons were initially not allowed to report from outside the polling stations but the issue was later resolved on the directions of the AJK Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired Justice Abdul Rashid Sulehria.
Officials said they expect up to 60 per cent voter turnout because all political parties were heavily involved in the buildup to the election.
AJK has a total of 32,50,117 registered voters, including 17,8,800 male and 14,68,317 female.
There are 33 electoral constituencies in the ten districts of AJK. While 12 constituencies are reserved for Pakistan-based Jammu & Kashmir refugees. Polling booths in all the provinces have been set up for the refugees.
Over 2.8 million voters have been registered in 33 AJK constituencies and 0.4 million in 12 Jammu Kashmir refugees based in various parts of Pakistan.
A total of 691 candidates, including 381 belonging to a total of 32 registered political parties and a total of 310 independent candidates, are in the run to win the election for 45 seats.
The elections are being held under the supervision of AJK Judiciary, Pakistan Army and Rangers with the coordination