Amid tight security and shutdown in election bound areas, the polling for the ninth and last phase panchayat polls is underway in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday.
The polling began at 8 am and is slated to end at 2 pm. The election in the fourth phase is taking place for 55 sarpanch wards and 138 panch wards while 68 sarpanchs and 433 panchs have been elected unopposed for this phase. An electorate of 68745 is eligible for voting for sarpanch constituencies whereas it is 20688 for panch constituencies.
The polling is being held in different blocks of Kashmir's nine districts- Kupwara, Bandipora, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Budgam, Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag. In this phase, 452 polling stations are being set up of which 346 have been categorised as hypersensitive.
In the eighth phase, held on December 8, an overall voter turnout of 79.9 per cent was recorded in the state, with Kashmir division recording a voter turnout of 49.6 percent while Jammu division witnessing a voter turnout of 85.1 per cent.
The completion of ninth phase of polling will mark the end of panchayat elections which were pending for the last more than two years. The last panchayat election was conducted in 2011 by then NC-Congress government and the term of these elected bodies had ended in 2016.
The National Conference (NC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the CPI (M) have boycotted the elections over the Article 35-A matter. Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militant outfit had issued a strong warning to those participating in the polls, asking them to get shrouds along with the election forms.