Voting began yesterday in the second phase of India’s general elections amid massive security and a lockdown in parts of the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Srinagar was one of 95 constituencies across 13 Indian states where voting was taking place.
Kashmiri Muslim separatist leaders who challenge India’s sovereignty over the region have called for a boycott of the vote, calling it an illegitimate exercise under military occupation.
Most polling stations in the Srinagar and Budgam areas of Kashmir looked deserted in the morning, with more armed police, paramilitary soldiers and election staff than voters.
Authorities shut down mobile Internet services, and closed some roads with steel barricades and razor wire as armed soldiers and police in riot gear patrolled the streets.
Voting was expected to be brisk in the Hindu-dominated Udhampur constituency of the region.
The Indian election is taking place in seven phases over six weeks in the nation of 1.3 billion people. About 900 million people are registered to vote for candidates to fill 543 seats in the lower house of parliament.
Voting concludes on May 19 and counting is scheduled for May 23.
Also voting yesterday was Tamil Nadu state in the south, where tens of thousands lined up to cast their ballots for 37 seats.
Voting was postponed for the Vellore seat following the seizure of 110 million rupees (US$1.59 million) in unaccounted cash allegedly from the home of a local opposition politician, Kathir Anand.
His party accused federal tax authorities of raiding the homes and offices of party leaders running against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party. The governing party in the state, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, is an ally of Modi’s party.
The Indian Election Commission said that authorities had recovered 2 billion rupees from leaders, workers and supporters of various political parties in the state in the past month. They suspect the money is for buying votes.
In vote-rich Uttar Pradesh state, election officials directed authorities to provide drinking water and sun shelters at polling stations to cope with scorching heat, state chief electoral officer Vekenteshwar Lu said.
The election, the world’s largest democratic exercise, is seen as a referendum on Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party.
Modi has used Kashmir as one of the top issues of his campaign and played up the threat of Pakistan, especially after the suicide bombing of a paramilitary convoy on Feb. 14 that killed 40 soldiers.
Dignitaries from 47 countries yesterday congratulated President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on the commencement of her second term and highlighted Taiwan’s achievements in democracy and its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent his congratulations a day earlier. As of noon yesterday, 263 high-ranking officials from 47 countries and global organizations had congratulated Tsai via statements, letters, social media posts or recorded footage, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, while releasing a collection of footage sent by selected dignitaries. The governments of Taiwan’s 15 diplomatic allies sent their congratulations, as did the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy,
REASSURING NUMBERS: Taiwan’s test capacity ranks sixth or seventh among 91 nations, and is not low compared with other nations, Chen Shih-chung said The quarantine period for foreigners visiting Taiwan for business would vary based on the COVID-19 situation of the nation or territory that they are coming from, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported the 13th consecutive day of no new cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told reporters at the center’s daily briefing that modified rules covering foreign business visitors had been completed and were ready for him to sign. The complete details of the new rules would be released later this week, he said. Foreigners on long business trips would have
IN PROTEST: The US’ top diplomat said the WHA had been deprived of Taiwan’s scientific expertise, while Tsai said political factors should not be put above health US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Monday condemned Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Assembly (WHA), while President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday lodged a strong protest against the WHO for not inviting Taiwan. Twenty-two nations voiced support for Taiwan’s bid for participation on the first day of the assembly’s two-day virtual meeting, but despite the global community’s unprecedentedly strong support for Taiwan, it remained blocked from the assembly, with WHO member states on Monday agreeing to delay discussion on Taiwan until later this year. Pompeo, who on May 6 urged WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to invite Taiwan to the WHA,
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced no new cases of COVID-19, adding that a ban on mask exports would be lifted soon under three conditions. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that 401 people from among the nation’s 440 confirmed cases have been removed from isolation. Yesterday was the 12th consecutive day that no new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Taiwan, and the 37th day of no new domestic cases. “As our local communities have gradually become safe, we should not become careless,” Chen said. “We should continue to take personal protective measures