Over 71% polling in second phase of J&K Panchayat polls

Over 71% polling in second phase of J&K Panchayat polls

Voters stand in a queue at a polling station during the 2nd phase of the panchayat elections at Tikri village, in Udhampur district, on Tuesday. PTI

Srinagar, DHNS: Voting for the second phase of the Jammu and Kashmir panchayat polls ended on Tuesday with over 71% electorate exercising their right to franchise.

J&K Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Shaleen Kabra said an overwhelming 80.4% polling was witnessed in Jammu division and 52.2% in Kashmir division.

While militancy hit southern Anantnag district recorded just 1% polling and frontier Kupwara district in north Kashmir witnessed brisk polling with 69.7% electorate exercising their right to franchise.

The polling was free of any untoward incident at all places. In the first phase of nine-phased panchayat polls, 74.1% voting was recorded on November 17 across the state with 64.5% in Kashmir division and 79.5% in Jammu division.

4,014 candidates were in the fray for 281 sarpanch and 1,286 panch seats in the second phase.

90 sarpanch and 1,069 panch have been elected unopposed in this phase.

Due to militant threats, boycott calls by the separatists and decision of the regional parties— the PDP and the NC— to stay away from the recently concluded urban local bodies (ULB) polls, only 4.27% polling was witnessed in Kashmir region, which was the lowest in any election held in the state since 1951.

However, the brisk voting in the first two phases of Panchayat polls was the reminder of 2011 polls when 82% voters exercised their right to franchise.

The polling for remaining seven phases will be held on November 24, 27, 29, December 1, 4, 8, and 11 in all 22 districts of the state.

At least 4,400 sarpanchs and 29,000 panchs will be elected in Jammu and Kashmir.

While separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik have urged people to boycott these polls, the militants have threatened to blind panchayat poll candidates with acid.

Authorities have made elaborate arrangements for holding violence-free polls with 200 companies of paramilitary forces, which were deployed for recently-held urban local body elections, re-deployed for the panchayat polls.