North Kashmir's Baramulla constituency which goes to polls on Wednesday, will decide the fate of Sajad Gani Lone, the separatist leader who is locked in a triangular contest with the ruling National Conference candidate, Sharief-ud-Din Shariq and the opposition, People's Democratic Party candidate, Mohammad Dilawar Mir.
Sajad decided to join the polls as part of his proclaimed 'changed strategy and not any change in ideology' to contest from the Baramulla constituency where his party, People's Conference has pockets of support in Kupwara and Handwara assembly segments.
Out of the 15 segments in this constituency the NC had won seven, PDP won in five in the December 2008 state assembly polls while one seat was won by Congress and two went to independent candidates.
For Lone, the challenges are formidable as his rival NC candidate is well entrenched in the constituency with a ground level cadre. The NC has retained the seat in the last two parliamentary elections.
Sajad said, " I am very hopeful that we will win the seat and trust me if we do win, it will be a historical win, but even if I lose, the votes I get will prove my representative character which is the basic objective of my fighting these poll."
The polling in the constituency with a total of 10,54,086 electorate begins Wednesday morning in the backdrop of a 50-hour long shut down called by the hard-line separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and violent protests in past two days.
Anti-poll protestors attacked a PDP rally in the old Baramulla town on Monday and smashed nearly nearly 30 vehicles.The protestors fought pitched battles with the police and paramilitary, central reserve police force troopers who responded by firing tear gas and baton charges.Nearly 30 persons were injured in the clashes.
A police vehicle carrying armed policemen for poll duties was attacked and torched by a mob in the old Baramulla town this afternoon, after clashes erupted again.Two policemen were wounded in Tuesday's clashes.
A polling station was attacked by militants with a hand grenade in the nearby apple rich Sopore Town this afternoon. No one was reported injured. The authorities, however, say adequate security arrangements are in place in the entire constituency for smooth conduct of the polls.
Strict security restrictions were imposed in the summer capital Srinagar this morning by the district administration.Security forces were deployed in the entire city and pedestrian and vehicular movement was halted.
Also going to the polls in the last phase tomorrow is the Ladakh parliamentary constituency with a total electorate of 1,52,391 for whom 476 polling stations have been set up in the four assembly segments of Leh, Nobra, Zanskar and Kargil.