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Separatists shut down Valley, PDP wants by-election postponed

A day after widespread violence left eight people dead during a Lok Sabha by-election, the Kashmir Valley observed a shutdown on Monday in response to a call from separatists.

Markets, public transport, educational institutions and other businesses were closed in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, and other parts of the troubled valley, officials and residents said.

Separatists have called a two-day shutdown and protest against Sunday's killings of civilians by security forces.

Heavily armed police and paramilitary personnel patrolled the deserted streets on Monday.

Eight people were killed when the security forces opened fire during the Lok Sabha by-election on Sunday in the Srinagar-Budgam constituency. Seven were killed in Budgam and one died in Ganderbal district.

Mobs attacked polling stations, damaging EVMs, at nearly 100 places in Budgam, reducing the day's balloting to a trickle.

"Adequate deployment has been made to maintain law and order," a senior police official said here.

The Kashmir University has postponed all examinations for Monday and Tuesday.

Chief Electoral Officer Shant Manu on Sunday said re-polling would be held in 50-100 polling stations where violence disrupted voting.

Only seven per cent votes were polled on Sunday - the lowest voter turnout since a separatist campaign erupted in Jammu and Kashmir 27 years ago.

Manu said the next Lok Sabha by-election would be held on schedule on April 12 in south Kashmir's Anantnag constituency.

To check the spread of rumours, authorities have suspended the Internet facility in the entire valley till April 12.

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party asked the Election Commission to postpone the Anantnag election, party sources said.

PDP candidate Tassaduq Hussain Mufti, brother of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, at Anantnag told the poll panel that the situation in the district was not conducive to hold the election.

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