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Panchayat elections: Phase I sees 74% turnout

Srinagar, Nov 17: Unlike recent civic polls, the phase I of Panchayat elections in J&K managed a better turnout on Saturday.

Kupwara, Bandipora and Baramulla, the northern districts of the valley, saw respective turnouts of 71.9%, 55.7% and 69.1%.

 

On the contrary, Ganderbal, Srinagar and Budgam ended the day at 11, 21 and 30 percent respectively.

Overall in J&K, the final turnout for phase I was 74.1%.

Udhampur (83.6 %), Kathua (80%), Doda (80 %) were among the districts with highest numbers.

Barring sporadic incidents of scuffle between supporters and contesting candidates, the polling for the first phase ended peacefully.

Heavy polling was witnessed in Kathua and Rajouri districts of Jammu region with poll percentage of above 75 per cent.

Polling began at 3,296 polling stations across the state, including 1,303 in Kashmir and 1,993 in Jammu Division at 8 am and ended at 2 pm. The polling began amid a shutdown called by the separatists in the Valley.

Contingent plans were drawn for polling stations close to the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border so that these can be shifted to other places in case of a ceasefire violation.

Heavy deployments of police and central paramilitary forces were ensured for a peaceful polling process.

Separatists have called for a protest shutdown on Saturday asking the people to stay away from these elections.

This is the first of the nine-phased panchayat polls.

Fifteen districts of the state — seven in Jammu region, six in Valley, two in Ladakh — were going to the polls. There were a total of 3,296 polling stations — 1,303 in the valley and 1,993 in the Jammu region.

In Jammu region, Saturday’s polls were being held in Doda, Ramban, Rajouri, Kishtwar, Kathua, Samba and Jammu district while in the valley it was taking place in Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Badgam and Srinagar districts.

Polling is also scheduled today in Ladakh’sLeh and Kargil districts.

The state’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shaleen Kabra said 5,585 candidates were in the fray for for 420 sarpanch and 1,845 panch posts in the first phase.

He said 85 sarpanchs and 1,676 panchs were already been elected unopposed.

Keeping the ground situtaion in mind, Kabra said 491 polling stations in the valley and 196 in the Jammu division have been declared as hypersensitive.

Contingent plans have been drawn for polling stations close to the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border so that these can be shifted to other places in case of a ceasefire violation.

Heavy deployments of police and central paramilitary forces have been made to ensure a peaceful polling process.

Separatists have called for a protest shutdown on Saturday asking the people to stay away from these elections.

This is the first of the nine-phased panchayat polls.