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Polling comes to an end in violence-marred AJK elections; 2 PTI workers killed, 5 policemen beaten up

ISLAMABAD – The polling time has ended for election to 45 seats of the AJK Legislative Assembly, after the voting process was marred by violence and clashes in some areas.

Voters present inside polling stations were allowed to cast their votes until after 5pm, while counting of the ballots has begun at some places.

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.

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.

In a separate incident, five police constables were injured after Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) activists attacked them with batons at the Dhal Chakhya polling station in AJK’s LA-32 constituency, Jhelum valley district SP Riaz Mughal said.

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 continued 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.

PML-N, PPP cry foul

Meanwhile, PML-N leader Raja Farooq Haider Khan wrote a letter to the AJK chief election commissioner, complaining that some “miscreants” were harming the peaceful polling environment through violence at a polling station in the LA-32 constituency in order to prevent his party’s supporters from voting.

He said workers from an “opposition party” were openly displaying firearms, and alleged that some Rangers personnel deployed at the polling station were “encouraging voters to vote for their favourite opposition party”.

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