Anees-ul-Islam, a candidate from Jammu and Kashmir's “Apni Party” contesting in the DDC elections was shot in the hand by unknown gunmen in a bid to disturb the polling process that had been going smoothly before the incident.
Indian journalist Aditya Raj Kaul – who is a Kashmiri Pandit by birth and is currently working independently – shared a picture of Anees getting treated by doctors in the hospital, confirming the attack.
Photograph of Anees after being shot by terrorists in Anantnag of South Kashmir. He is safe. Shot in the hand. He is a DDC candidate of Apni Party from the area. https://t.co/YAqWW1TMxd pic.twitter.com/e6jWlRlICP— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) December 4, 2020
While more details about the forces responsible for the attack are awaited, the news has created a major buzz on social media.
Netizens, especially from Jammu and Kashmir, have blamed Pakistan for trying to disrupt peace in the valley.
Pakistan doesn't want peace & development in Kashmir & to disrupt the ongoing #DDCElections, Pak backed terrorists attacked & critically injured #DDC candidate Anees-ul-Islam at Kokernag, Anantnag.— Sumaira Yousuf (@SumairaYousuf5) December 4, 2020
This shows their desperation to hinder growing grassroot development in Kashmir. pic.twitter.com/F2sn8qilGr
DDC candidate, Anees-ul-Islam, shot at by #terrorists in #Anantnag— AS Pathania (@as_pathania) December 4, 2020
This is what #Pakistan was trying from a long time to disturb & create panic among locals to hinder #DDCElections.
Pak is frustrated by seeing huge positive response to DDC polls from people of #Kashmir pic.twitter.com/jLHbxiS88s
Pak backed Trts attacked & critically injured #DDC candidate Anees-ul-Islam at Kokernag, Anantnag.— Towheed Wani (@TowheedW) December 4, 2020
After seeing huge turnout in #DDCElections, Pak backed trts venting out in frustration & execute their nefarious designs to hinder growing democratic changes & peace in valley. pic.twitter.com/3PdBXbSC3b
The attack by unknown gunmen comes just hours after videos of Jammu and Kashmir residents dancing and celebrating their votes in the DDC elections surfaced online.
#WATCH Jammu: People who came from Pakistan as refugees celebrate after casting votes in third phase of District Development Council polls.— ANI (@ANI) December 4, 2020
“This is first time in over 70 yrs that we're voting in local body polls. We're happy to participate in democratic process,” says a voter. pic.twitter.com/Rhz4Tsn7Z4
Up to 2,644 polling stations have been established across Jammu and Kashmir amid a heavy security deployment and COVID-19-preventing measures put in place.
A total of 43 constituencies will be participating in polling today - 25 in Kashmir and 18 in Jammu. There are 280 DDC seats in the region - 140 each in Jammu and Kashmir.
The local election is important because it marks the first election Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed and participated in since the Indian government revoked Article 370 of India's Constitution that had given Jammu and Kashmir special autonomy.
The scenic valley has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan, with two wars having been fought over Kashmir since India gained independence from British rule in 1947.
In recent months, news about terror activities ramping up in the region have often made it to the headlines. For instance, on 3 December, a video of Indian soldiers uncovering a secret passageway entering into Indian territory surfaced online, raising suspicion about Pakistan-backed infiltration activities.