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Thursday, September 9, 1999 Published at 17:15 GMT 18:15 UK


World: South Asia

Kashmir constituencies on high alert

Grieving relatives of the BJP candidate killed this week

Elaborate security arrangements have been made for voting this weekend in two constituencies in the troubled Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Indian Elections 99
Full results
Officials say more than half the 3,000 polling stations in Udhampur and Jammu have been declared sensitive.


[ image:  ]
Security along the Line of Control with Pakistan has also been stepped up to prevent what officials say might be attempts by Pakistan to disrupt polling during India's phased elections.

Voter turnout in the first round last Sunday in the capital, Srinigar, and in two other areas was extremely low.

One report said it was only around 12%.

Violence continues

In the latest incident of separatist violence, 17 people were injured in an explosion in Doda district when militants attacked a BJP campaign vehicle.


The BBC's Mike Wooldridge reports from Kashmir
Earlier in the week, a BJP candidate, Hyder Noorani, was killed when his vehicle ran over a landmine and came under fire.

Following the attack, candidates demanded increased protection from the security forces.


[ image: Security has been stepped up for the vote]
Security has been stepped up for the vote
Separatist militants have called for a boycott of the general elections and warned that those participating would be doing so at their own risk.

The BBC's Binoo Joshi, reporting from Jammu, says that posters have appeared in several places threatening people with serious consequences if they vote.

Nearly 150 people have been killed in separatist-related violence in the Jammu region in the last three months.

Elections 'farcical'

The Pakistan Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has described the elections in Indian-administered Kashmir as farcical.

Speaking at a military ceremony in northern Pakistan, he said the polls had been boycotted by the Kashmiri people.

Mr Sharif also repeated that he wanted a peaceful resolution to differences between India and Pakistan.

"I have reiterated time and again," he said, "that our problems cannot be resolved through war and conflict, " he said.

Fighting between Pakistani-backed intruders and Indian forces ended in July when the infiltrators pulled back across the Line of Control in Kashmir.



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