Aasif Suhaf, Jammu, Oct 8: This is being seen as a big victory of democracy as it lays to rest all fear of guns and militants. It was a big voter turnout in the Valley today.
Under a heavy security blanket, the first phase of urban local body polls is currently underway in Jammu and Kashmir. Voting begins for 422 of the 1,145 wards in the first of the four phases of urban local bodies elections.
Over 5 Lakh 86 thousand voters to decide fate of over 1200 candidates in the first phase of Municipal elections in Jammu and Kashmir today. Befitting security arrangements are in place to ensure a peaceful election.
In Jammu & Kashmir, over 1200 (1204) candidates are in the fray for 321 Municipal Wards in the State including 83 in Kashmir division including Kargil and Leh districts in the first phase of Municipal Polls-2018 beginning today. The voting will take place at 820 polling stations across the State from 7.00 am to 4.00 pm.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shaleen Kbara in the latest update said that 152 polling stations have been designated for voting in Kashmir Division including Leh & Kargil. He said in Kashmir Division 138 polling stations have been categorized as hypersensitive adding that for the Phase-I, 78 candidates have already been elected unopposed.
CEO said that the total electorate for Phase-I is over 5 lakh 86 thousand (5,86,064).
The latest Election Commission data suggests that 138 contesting candidates are in the fray for 57 wards in the first phase of Municipal elections in Srinagar, Budgam, Anantnag, Baramulla, Bandipora and Kupwara districts in Kashmir Valley. Kargil and Leh have 66 candidates in fray for 26 municipal wards.
There are no prominent faces who are contesting in the municipal elections in Kashmir. Several candidates including women contestants belong to Congress and BJP and many are contesting independently. The two main regional political parties National Conference and PDP besides CPIM have decided to boycott the elections.
The authorities have put in place a highly structured security plan for at least the next two months in Kashmir region in particular, for the smooth conduct of municipal and panchayat elections.
The Election Commission has also completed all its work related to the municipal polls. Basic Minimum Facilities (BMF) have been ensured in all the polling stations across the State for voting. Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are being used to exercise the right of franchise by the electors.
The security forces are on high alert with intensified vehicle checking, frisking of pedestrians and area domination in the Srinagar city and elsewhere in Kashmir Valley to avert any untoward incident and possible attacks by the militants. Several check points have been set up with sniffer dogs also put in service to check private and public transport vehicles.
Separatist conglomerate “Joint Resistance Leadership” comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, has already called for election boycott and shutdown today. Militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen has also threatened action against the contestants and the participants in the ULB and Panchayat elections. Yasin hu Malik was detained and lodged in local jail several days ago. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was put under house detention yesterday.