08:41 GMT02 March 2021
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    In a first since losing its special status in August 2019, Jammu and Kashmir last week kicked off the District Development Council (DDC) elections. The elections, which are supposed to conclude after eight phases of polling, entered their third phase on Friday. Penetrating the heavy security deployments around booths, a terror attack created havoc.

    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.  

    Anees was attacked in the Sagam area of Anantnag in South Kashmir after which he sustained injuries and was shifted to a local hospital. 

    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.

    ​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.

    ​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.

    ​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.

    Article 370, before abrogation, had allowed the state's legislature to make its own laws. It also banned people from outside the state from purchasing property and getting state government positions. 

    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.

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