New Delhi: Speaking of an encounter of two terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir‘s Shopian early Sunday morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mocked his critics who question such anti-terror strikes when he quipped, “Now some people are worried as to why did Modi kill the terrorists when voting is underway?”

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Speaking at a rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar, the Prime Minister said, “Today terrorists were killed by our Army in Kashmir. Now some people are worried as to why did Modi kill the terrorists when voting is underway? An armed terrorist is attacking, do my jawans go to the Election Commission to seek permission to kill him?”

The Prime Minister and the incumbent government have long been battling criticism over its muscular anti-terrorism policy. The NDA government saw two deadly cross-border strikes carried out by Indian security forces on terror buds- one post the Uri terror attack in September 2016 and ‘pre-emptive air strikes’ in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in February in response to Pulwama terror attack.

On Sunday, the security forces had laid a cordon and search operation in an area in Shopian after receiving specific inputs about the presence of two-three terrorists in the area. “As the cordon was tightened, the hidden militants opened fire, triggering an encounter. Two militants have been killed,” a police officer said.

The Prime Minister’s jibe at the Opposition calling him out on ‘politicising the Army‘ is a sharp one aimed at his detractors who claimed that these were just poll gimmicks.

Voting began on Sunday across 59 Lok Sabha constituencies spread over six states and the national capital, as the sixth and penultimate round of the mega seven-phase electoral exercise kicked off.

A total electorate of 10.17 crore is eligible to exercise their franchise in this phase, which covers 14 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, eight each in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal and four in Jharkhand as well as all 10 seats of Haryana and seven in Delhi.

The seven-phase Lok Sabha elections started on April 11 and would conclude on May 19. Counting of votes will take place on May 23.