Amid tight security arrangements, the polling for the first phase of the DDC election and panchayat by-polls was going on in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday with moderate to brisk polling recorded till 11 am.
Officials said that over 17% polling was recorded till 11 am in three panchayat blocks that went to polls for DDC elections in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district. In Kashmir, Gurez, Tulail, and Sumbal panchayat blocks in Bandipora district went to polls in the first phase of DDC elections. Polling started at 7 am and will end at 2 pm.
In the first phase of the district development council (DDC) elections, voting is taking place in 43 constituencies, including 25 in Kashmir and 18 in Jammu with 1,427 candidates in the fray and seven lakh voters eligible to exercise their franchise.
In the election, the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration comprising National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, Peoples Conference, and other parties are locked in a direct contest with BJP.
The authorities have made elaborate security arrangements for the elections to ensure incident-free polls. “Vigil has been tightened across the Union Territory,” a senior police officer told DH. “Security is being reviewed as per requirements.”
Security along the LoC and the International Border, he said, had also been beefed up to prevent militants from infiltrating and disturbing the poll exercise.
The DDC polls mark the Centre’s first attempt at restoring democratic processes in the region, following the revocation of its special status and bifurcation in August 2019. In the absence of an elected government in the UT, these Councils are set to become a new unit of governance in Jammu and Kashmir.
J&K has been under central rule since June 2018 when the BJP pulled out of the alliance government with the PDP. The special status of the erstwhile state under Article 370 was revoked in August 2019 by the Parliament and it was bifurcated into the UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.