Amid heightened security civic polls underway in J&K

Amid heightened security civic polls underway in J&K

Voting began at 6 am on Wednesday morning amid stringent security arrangements. (DH File Photo/Umer Asif)

Amid heightened security and a shutdown call by separatists in poll-bound areas, voting began on Wednesday for the second phase of the four-phased municipal elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

The voting began at 6 am amid stringent security arrangements and would end at 4 pm. Officials said the voting began at 6 am amid stringent security arrangements and would take place at 544 polling stations across the state. The conduct of polls in Srinagar areas, as well as the Anantnag town of south Kashmir, is a challenge given the volatile history of the poll-bound areas, they said.

In Fateh Kadal area of old city in Srinagar, only nine votes out of 10,000 were cast until 9 am. However, Sumbal town of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district was witnessing brisk polling with nearly 18.41% voters exercising their franchise till 11 am.

Anantnag town had recorded only 0.6% polling till 10 am while Baramulla witnessed 1.1% Kupwara 3% and Srinagar 0.8%. 

An official said that out of 23 urban local bodies going to polls on Wednesday, five are in Kashmir and 18 in Jammu. 1,029 candidates - 881 in Jammu division and 148 in Kashmir division - are in the fray for 263 municipal wards, including 49 in Kashmir and 214 in Jammu.

A total of 65 candidates - 61 of them from Kashmir valley - have already won the polls uncontested, while in 56 wards all in the valley - no nomination was received, so no polling is taking place in those places, he said.

The official said the total electorate in these wards is 346,980 - 128,104 in Jammu division and 218,876 in Kashmir division. Massive security arrangements have been put in place to ensure smooth conduct of the polls.

The elections, covering 79 municipal bodies with an electorate of about 17 lakh, are being held in four phases. In the first phase of the elections on Monday, over 56% polling was recorded.

The National Conference (NC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the CPI (M) have boycotted the polls to protest the legal challenge to Article 35A of the Constitution in the Supreme Court.

Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militant outfit has issued a strong warning to those participating in the polls, asking them to get shrouds along with the election forms.  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.