Clashes mar Indian Kashmir voting

Thousands of Indian police deploy across the disputed region to secure election.

    Separatist leaders have called on Kashmir's Muslims to boycott the elections [AFP]

    Anti-government sentiment runs deep in predominantly-Muslim Kashmir, where many residents favour either independence or Pakistani rule.

    Armed separatist groups have fought the Indian government since 1989, with the violence leaving at least 50,000 people dead, according to official figures, and thousands more according to human rights groups.

    High turnout

    Separatist leaders had have condemned the polls, saying they will only entrench Indian control.

    Despite this, voter turnout was reported to be high.

    More than 800,000 people were eligible to cast their ballots across 11 districts in Saturday's round of voting.

    The state has more than 6.5m eligible voters, but authorities have staggered voting to be able to maintain tighter control in the region.

    During the first four largely-peaceful voting stages, turnout averaged more than 60 per cent, which is regarded as reasonably high.

    The elections come after some of the largest protests against Indian rule in the region.

    In July, a Hindu-Muslim land dispute triggered major anti-India demonstrations, leading to the state government's collapse and the imposition of federal rule.

    Two rounds of voting remain. The seventh and final round of the vote takes place on December 24, with results due four days later.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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