ISLAMABAD - People overwhelmingly boycotted the fifth and final phase of Indian parliamentary election drama in Shopian and Pulwama districts.

According to Kashmir Media Service, over 97 per cent voters stayed away from the polling process. The polling booths wore a deserted look and on several booths not even a single voter came to vote on Islamabad’s Lok Sabha seat.

The All Parties Hurriyat Conference Chairman Syed Ali Geelani, in a statement issued in Srinagar yesterday, termed the exemplary election boycott observed by the people a symbolic referendum against Indian subjugation.

Meanwhile, dozens of youth were injured when Indian troops fired pellets and teargas shells during protests against election drama in Shopian and Pulwama districts. At least two dozen youth were injured in South Kashmir and five in Saraf Kadal and Kadikadal areas of Srinagar. Unidentified people hurled grenades and petrol bombs on polling stations in Rahmoo, Tral and Rajpora areas of Pulwama and Government Boys Higher Secondary School, Shopian. Protesters also set ablaze a Panchayat Ghar.

Complete shutdown was observed in south Kashmir’s Shopian and Pulwama districts yesterday. All shops and business establishments were closed while traffic was off the roads. Call for the shutdown and boycott was given by the Joint Resistance Leadership. Mobile Internet service remained suspended in South Kashmir, while train service between Baramulla and Banihal was also cancelled.

Senior APHC leader and Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Jammu and Kashmir Chairman, Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai in a statement demanded unconditional release of all political prisoners in the holy month of Ramazan. The Jamaat-e-Islami of occupied Kashmir in a statement strongly denounced shifting of its chief spokesman, Advocate Zahid Ali, from Srinagar Central Jail to Kot Bhalwal jail in Jammu.

Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference Chairman, Shabbir Ahmad Dar in a statement paid glorious tributes to Saddam Padder, Professor Mohammad Rafi, Aadil Malik, Tauseef Shaikh and Bilal Molvi on their first martyrdom anniversary.

Indian authorities again failed to produce Jammu and Kashmir Muslim League Chairman, Masarrat Aalam Butt before a Srinagar court on the scheduled date of hearing.

The Grand Mufti of Kashmir, Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam in a statement issued in Srinagar yesterday, greeted Muslims on the holy month of Ramazan.

On the other hand, people from all walks of life joined a protest march in Srinagar against the state suppression and failure of the authorities to provide basic facilities to the people. Holding banners and placards and chanting slogans, protesters started the march from Magarmal Bagh and proceeded towards civil secretariat. The march was organized by Awami Ittihad Party led by Engineer Rasheed.

In Indian occupied Kashmir, ‘deserted polling booths, missing polling agents and scared polling staff in Pulwama and Shopian recorded the lowest turnout in the final phase of the polling’ was the comment of a Srinagar-based English daily. The two South Kashmir’s districts recorded the lowest voter turnout of less than 3 per cent.

According to Kashmir Media Service , Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar said the twin districts recorded a voter turnout of 2.81 per cent with 300 out of 695 polling booths seeing no voting in election on the Islamabad’s Lok Sabha seat. 266 polling booths in Pulwama and 37 in Shopian 28 in Shopian Assembly segment and 9 in Wachi witnessed zero turnout.

As per officials, 2.14 percent turnout was recorded in Pulwama. However, independent sources say that the actual turnout is far less than officially stated 2.81 per cent.

Nine polling booths had less than seven votes cast in Wachi and less than five votes in 14 booths in Shopian was observed. Officials at several polling stations were idling around, while troops maintained a vigil against possible disruption by local youth.

Despite heightened security measures, unknown persons lobbed two grenades and two petrol bombs in the poll-bound districts. Nobody was, however, injured in these incidents.

Fear, coupled with anger and alienation, were the main reasons for people to stay away from polling in the twin districts.