Municipal polls in J&K end peacefully

Municipal polls in J&K end peacefully

5% polling recorded in Kashmir, 68% in Jammu

People wait in a queue to cast their vote at a polling station during the fourth phase of municipal elections at Gulab Bagh Zakura in Srinagar on Tuesday. DH photo / Umer Asif

Amid boycott call by separatists, threats by militants and regional parties staying away from the poll process, municipal elections in Jammu and Kashmir ended peacefully on Tuesday with 4.2% polling recorded in fourth and the last phase of the exercise. 

Poll officials said 4.2% voting was recorded in the last phase of the election with Srinagar recording 4% and neighbouring Ganderbal 11.3%.  The overall voting percentage for all four phases in the Kashmir valley was just 5% while in Jammu region, the polling was brisk at about 68%. 

In the previous three phases, the voter turnout in Kashmir remained 8.2%, 3.4% and 3.5% respectively. The average polling in all four phases of the elections in the state was 35.1%, they said. The counting of votes will take place on October 20.

Barring few incidents of stone-pelting in some areas, the polling in all the four phases ended peacefully. Authorities had made adequate security arrangements for all the four phases of the elections to ensure peaceful polls.

The election in the fourth phase was held for 24 wards of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) and 12 wards of Ganderbal municipal committee. Candidates had been declared elected unopposed in one ward of SMC and five wards of Ganderbal municipal committee. 156 candidates were in the fray for the fourth phase for which 308 polling stations had been established for 2,50,794 electorate.

There was no election for municipal committees of Pattan, Pampore, Khrew, Pulwama, Shopian and Dooru-Verinag as candidates have either been elected unopposed or there were no contestants at all. Except for Pattan, all these urban local bodies are in southern Kashmir which has witnessed a spurt in militancy-related incidents and civilian protests following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in July 2016.

Overall in the Valley, 215 wards out of a total of 624 went uncontested while 177 wards didn’t find a single candidate. Elections were held on 232 wards only in Kashmir for which 715 candidates, an estimated three candidates per ward, were in the fray.

The urban local bodies (ULB) polls were pending for the past eight years as the last election was conducted in 2005 by then PDP-Congress government whose term ended in 2010. After the successful culmination of the civic polls, the elections for Panchayat are scheduled to be held in the state from November 19 to December 11.

The National Conference (NC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the CPM boycotted the elections over the Article 35-A matter. While the candidates in Jammu and Ladakh regions campaigned extensively, the campaigning remained a low-key affair in the Valley amid threats from militants, boycott calls by separatists and NC and PDP’s decision to abstain from the polls.

The 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.

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