A first-hand account of grenade attack on polling booth

A first-hand account of grenade attack on polling booth

A first-hand account of grenade attack on polling booth

Deccan Herald’s Jammu and Kashmir correspondent Zulfikar Majid had a close shave in less than a month after his residence became part of the battle zone. This time, Majid and two other mediapersons escaped by a whisker from a deadly grenade attack aimed at a polling both in Palhalan, a hypersensitive village in Baramulla district. Here’s the first-hand account:

 I entered the polling booth numbered “Palhalan-F-2” set up in a government school building, where six booths were merged for security reasons. It was a regular beat until a terrible explosion was heard outside the building. I ducked for safety and laid down on the floor and cried out to Mir Farhat, a journalist working with a local English daily, to do the same.

We were worried about Iqbal Mir, another fellow journalist, who was outside the polling booth. We tried to call him on his cell but his number wasn’t reachable. Panic and chaos gripped the scene as polling staff ran helter and skelter with paramilitary CRPF and police personnel.

The women on polling duty were wailing and crying in hysteria. The policemen inside the booth were pacifying them. As things became clear, it was found that the grenade was fired from a nearby orchard and it had, luckily, caused no damage as it exploded a few meters away from its intended target.

The confusion ended after some more minutes as armymen arrived. A young officer escorted us to the place where our vehicle was parked. Farhat again called Iqbal and this time we were lucky to contact him. Iqbal had taken shelter in a house nearby the polling booth. He was too overawed by the incident and fear was palpable on his face. The paramilitary officer instructed us to leave the spot immediately as there was apprehension of more attacks on the building.

Iqbal was insisting that we go back to Srinagar and call it a day. However, Farhat was adamant that we should continue with reporting the events of the day. They couldn’t reach an agreement and asked me to take the decision. I sided with Farhat and we proceeded towards Sopore, which is known for apple production and separatism. As we landed in Doour, native village of Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani, the stones were raining on polling booths from all directions. In nearly 15 polling stations which we examined from Palhalan to Sopore, not a single vote had been cast till 11:30 am.

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