J-K: 2.3% polling recorded in Srinagar till 12 pm

Security personnel stand guard at a polling station during the first phase of elections for urban local bodies, at Humhama in Budgam district of central Kashmir, Monday, October 8, 2018. (PTI File Photo/S Irfan)

Amid tight security and shutdown in election-bound areas, the polling for the fourth and last phase of municipal elections in Jammu and Kashmir began on Tuesday.
 
The polling began at 6 am and is slated to end at 4 pm. The election in the fourth phase is taking place for 24 wards of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) and 12 wards of Ganderbal municipal committee. Till 12 pm 2.3% polling was recorded in Srinagar while Ganderbal witnessed 7.9%, poll officials said.
 
Already, they said, candidates have been declared elected unopposed in one ward of SMC and five wards of Ganderbal municipal committee. 156 candidates are in fray for the fourth phase for which 308 polling stations have been established for 2,50,794 electorate.
 
There will be 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 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.
 
Reports said security has been beefed up at polling stations, while checkpoints have been set up in Srinagar and Ganderbal, where vehicles and commuters are being searched thoroughly to ensure peaceful completion of polls.
 
The completion of fourth phase of polling will mark the end of urban local body elections which were pending for the last eight years. The last ULB election was conducted in 2005 by the PDP-Congress government and the term of these elected bodies had ended in 2010.
 
The counting of votes will take place on October 20. In the previous three phases, the voter turnout remained very low in Kashmir Valley, while brisk polling was witnessed in Jammu region. 8.2% votes were polled in the first phase in Kashmir Valley, while 3.4% and 3.5% turnout was recorded during the second and third phases respectively.
 
The National Conference (NC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the CPI (M) have 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.
 
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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J-K: 2.3% polling recorded in Srinagar till 12 pm

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