Jammu and Kashmir panchayat elections 2018: Voting is underway in the first phase
Polling for the first phase of panchayat election in Jammu and Kashmir began on Saturday amidst stringent security arrangements. Moderate polling was witnessed in the early hours of polling in the Kashmir valley as 18.5 per cent of the electorate voted till 11 AM. Officials said 427 candidates were in the fray for 536 sarpanch halqas and 5,951 candidates for 4,048 panch wards in the first phase. While the polls were being conducted on a non-party basis, the National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party and the CPI(M) have announced to stay away from the elections due to the legal challenge to Article 35A of the Constitution in the Supreme Court.
Here are the highlights of the Jammu and Kashmir panchayat elections:
Polling is being conducted amidst boycott calls given by the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference NC) on account of disagreements with the centre over Article 35A of the Constitution.
All necessary arrangements are in place for the smooth conduct of the polls, officials said, adding massive security arrangements, including deployment of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), have been made to ensure peaceful election.
The government has declared holiday on the day of poll in the panchayat areas where polls are taking place so as to enable the voters to cast their vote.
The officials said that in the first phase polling, 85 sarpanch and 1,676 panch have been elected unopposed while voting is taking place on the remaining 420 sarpanch and 1,845 panch seats, for which 5,585 candidates are in the fray.
Voting began at 8 am at 3,296 polling stations -- 1,303 in Kashmir and 1,993 in Jammu -- and would end at 2 pm, officials said.
In total, 58.54 lakh voters are casting their votes in 316 blocks. There are 4,483 panchayat halqas and 35,029 panch constituencies. Last time panchayat polls were held in 2011 and it was due in 2016. However, during the five-year term several panchayat members have been killed by terrorists.
In Kathua district, 114 candidates are in the fray for 29 sarpanch halqas and 450 for 209 panch wards, while 121 candidates for 35 sarpanch halqas and 469 for 253 panch wards in Rajouri district.
In order to have smooth polling, heavy security arrangements have been made with huge number of security personnel deployed at every polling booth. Out of the 47 blocks, 21 are in Jammu region, 16 in Kashmir valley and 10 blocks in Ladakh region.
In Baramulla district, 148 candidates are in the fray for 63 sarpanch halqas and 630 for 497 panch wards.