Tight security as Indian Kashmir votes
Voting was underway in Indian Kashmir on Wednesday in the last phase of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly Elections amid palpable tension due to a separatist call for a poll boycott and a protest march. The state's winter capital Jammu and its adjacent Samba district also saw voters trickling in on a chilly winter morning.
Thousands of troops have been deployed across the state to prevent violence by militants fighting Indian rule.
Police have arrested three men who they say were planning suicide bomb attacks in the city of Jammu during polling.
Separatist groups are boycotting the poll arguing that it only serves to legitimise Indian control of Kashmir.
The biggest city in the Kashmir valley, Srinagar, is under unofficial curfew, with security forces posted at every junction.
Thousands of police and soldiers armed with assault rifles patrolled deserted streets in the Muslim-majority city and warned residents to stay indoors.
Shops, businesses, government offices and banks remained closed.
Most Kashmiris say the restrictions are oppressive and unnecessary.
But the authorities insist there are threats which they have to guard against.
Reports say the turnout of voters has been low in Srinagar.
Meharj-u-Din, who turned out to cast his ballot, said he was voting for "better people to rule us".
"I have voted for a candidate who can develop our area," he told the AFP news agency.
But other residents like Idrees Shangloo said they were not casting their votes.
"We are for freedom from India. We will never take part in Indian-held elections," he said.
Police in Indian-administered Kashmir said they had been conducting raids in the entire state over the past few days to thwart trouble ahead of the polls.
It was during these raids, according to officers, that three men they describe as militants from Pakistan were picked up.
They said the men were planning to launch suicide bomb attacks in the Hindu-majority city of Jammu.