In a region mired in conflict, it takes all the more courage, and perseverance to be the voice of the voiceless and to separate facts from propaganda. Help The Kashmir Monitor sustain so that we continue to be editorially independent. Remember, your contributions, however small they may be, matter to us.

Panchayat elections in J&K from Nov 17

Srinagar, Sep 16: The Jammu and Kashmir Election Commission Sunday announced poll schedule for Panchayat election, which will be held under nine phases, beginning from November 17.

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Shaleen Kabra, during a press conference here, divulged that the entire process will last for 25 days, adding the notification for the same will be issued from October 23.

 

“Individual notifications for each phase of the elections will be issued on October 23, 26, 29 and November 1, 3, 6, 9, 12 and 14,” he said.

Kabra said the polling for these nine phases, which will be contested on non-party basis, will be held on November 17, 20, 24, 27, 29, December 1, 4, 8, and 11.

He said the last date for filing nominations for these nine phases will be October 30, November 2, 5, 8, 10, 13, 16, 19 and 22.

“The date of scrutiny of nominations will be October 31, November 3, 6, 9, 12, 14, 17, 20 and 24. The last dates of withdrawal of candidature will be November 2, 5, 8, 12, 14, 16, 19, 22 and 26,” Kabra said.

He said the last Panchayat elections in the State were held in 2011 after a gap of 10 years and the Panchayats completed their term in July 2016.

CEO said with Sunday’s announcement of the poll schedule, the Model Code of Conduct shall come into force with immediate effect and the same shall apply in all Panch constituencies going to polls as also for the candidates, the political parties and the Government.

“There shall be no announcement for development related works, or sanctions till the conduct of these elections,” he said.

Kabra said the elections will be held through ballot from 8 am to 2 pm. He said in view of the recent amendments making direct election to Sarpanch, the electors shall cast their votes for Panch as well as Sarpanch for which two separate colours of ballot papers will be used.

Saying the commission was revising the electoral rolls, the CEO said that the final list will be published by the end of this month.

“The draft electoral rolls have been already published on August 18. Currently we have initiated the process of revision of electoral rolls. This process also happened in January this year,” he said.

Kabra said that in majority of the places, the number of voters don’t exceed beyond 700.

“In the 4500 Panchayat halqas in the state, there are 316 blocks, 35000 Panch constituencies and number of elects as per the draft roll are 58 lakhs. Of course figures will go changes when electoral roll revision exercise is over,” he said.

The CEO said that the election exercise will be done through ballot paper in the state.

“Because of the amendment, two kind of ballot papers will be given to voters for electing Panch and Sarpanch. This time we might require additional ballot box, which will be provided by neighbouring states,” he said.

“We will issue voter slips in Urdu and English language, which will inform voters about place and polling station.”

Kabra said the commission will appoint Observers, Expenditure Observers and Micro Observers for smooth conduct of polling.

“The entire process will be video graphed. General Observers oversee entire process, Expenditure Observers will see day- to- day expenditure incurred by candidates. The limits for expenditure have been revised from Rs 5,000 to 20,000 for Sarpanch and 3,000 to 5,000 for Panch,” he said.

The CEO said that the Commission has included a special provision for Kashmiri migrants by way of posting ballot.

“The Relief Commissioner’s office would be directing officers in different places, in transit camps in Kashmir apart from Jammu camps,” he said.

“And the migrants would fill forms for the purpose of expressing their choice by posting ballot, which will be maintained by the Returning Officers.”

When asked about the security issue to the contesting Panchs and Sarpanchs, the CEO said that it was not possible to provide security to every member.

“A secure environment will be created to ensure free and fair elections. We expect good participation to ensure democracy at grass root level,” he said.

On holding of polls in volatile south Kashmir, Kabra said that they have carried an exercise to ensure participation by people.

“We have gone into the details on various aspects. We hope good participation as these elections are meant to address local issues by resources available,” he said.

Kabra also informed that in case of single or no contestant, the halqa will go uncontested.