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The Independent Online
India's elections ended yesterday when Kashmiris voted in Srinagar. Security forces fired tear gas and warning shots to break up demonstrations by Kashmir Muslim militants who had urged a boycott of the polls. Officials said voter turnout was 37 per cent, but eyewitnesses contacted by the Independent in Srinagar claimed that in some neighbourhoods of the city, the security forces used coercion to drive Kashmiris to the polling booths. Several Indian journalists said they were beaten with rifle butts by members of the Border Security Force while trying to stop an officer from dragging a woman out of her home.

Muslim separatists exploded six rockets and grenades around the troubled city to scare away voters. Caught between the intimidation of the Indian security forces on one side and the threats of Muslim separatists on the other, many Kashmiris who went to the polls claimed they deliberately spoiled their ballots by voting for all candidates. Tim McGirk - New Delhi

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