Srinagar, Nov 24 (IECurrentAffairs) Voting began on Saturday for the third of nine-phased panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir amid tight security.
Voting, which started at 0800 hrs on a very dull note in majority polling stations in the Kashmir valley, will end at 1400 hrs. However, authorities expect that voters will come out and exercise their democratic right as the day progresses.
Polling will be held at 2,773 polling stations, including 918 in Kashmir division and 1,855 in Jammu division.
According to the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), J&K, Shaleen Kabra, 727 polling stations have been categorised as hypersensitive, including 493 in Kashmir division and 234 in Jammu division.
He said 5,239 candidates are in the fray in Phase-III for 358 Sarpanch and 1,652 Panch seats. Ninety-six Sarpanchs and 1437 Panchs have been elected unopposed in this phase.
Mr Kabra said 4,23,592 electorate will be voting for Sarpanch constituencies while 2,70,668 will be for Panch constituencies. “Photo Voter Slips have been distributed among the voters to inform them of their polling station,” he said.
He said Basic Minimum Facilities (BMF) have been ensured in all the polling stations across the State for Phase-III.
He said senior government officers have been appointed as General Observers to oversee the smooth, fair and orderly conduct of Panchayat Elections, 2018.
Also, Expenditure Observers are keeping a watch on the expenditure by the candidates. In addition, for the poll day, Micro Observers have been placed in polling stations, particularly those considered hypersensitive.
Besides, the Zonal and Sector Magistrates too have been deployed.
The CEO said Control Rooms have been established in all the districts across the State to respond promptly to any complaints of violation of the Model Code of Conduct as also to disseminate information to the public.
Security arrangements have been made including deployment of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF).
Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) has called for strike in the poll-bound areas.
He said the Government has declared holiday on the day of poll in the panchayat areas going to polls so as to enable the voters to cast their vote. He said special casual leave shall also be granted to the employees who have to go to other areas to exercise their right to franchise. As per standing guidelines, the Central Government offices shall not be closed but the employees who are electors of the poll going wards and desire to exercise their franchise shall be offered reasonable facility to do so.
The Chief Electoral Officer, J&K appealed to the voters to come forward and exercise their right to franchise in order to choose their local self-government to address their local needs.
Mr Kabra said in the phase-I of panchayat polls held on November 17, 2018, 74.1 per cent polling was recorded across J&K including 64.5 per cent in Kashmir division and 79.4 per cent in Jammu division.
In phase-II of panchayat polls held on November 20, 2018, overall 71.1 per cent polling was witnessed across the State with an overwhelming 80.4 per cent polling in Jammu division and 52.2 per cent in Kashmir division.
The CEO said in Phase-II, repoll was held for Ward No: 6 of Panchayat Halqa Feller-A, Block Thakrie, Kishtwar on 21 November and a turnout of 71.8 per cent was recorded. Results have been announced for all these by the respective Returning Officers, he said.
Mr Kabra said the orders have been passed in various complaint cases as well as directions of the Courts and wherever necessary, notifications reappointing the election schedules have been issued. “All such orders/notifications are available at website of CEO J&K,” he said.