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Preparing to hold Municipal elections in J&K: CEO

Srinagar, Aug 25: The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer Saturday said the State Election Commission is preparing to hold the Municipal elections and that all the stakeholders of the government are working together to conduct these elections in a peaceful and fair manner.
“We are preparing to hold the municipal elections. These Urban Local Body elections will be held on party basis. However, the same yardstick will not be applied for Panchayat polls, which will take place on non-party basis,” J&K Chief Electoral Officer Shaleen Kabra said.
When asked about the schedule of these polls, the CEO said that within few days all will be cleared.
Regarding the security arrangements, he said that all the stakeholders of the government are working to conduct these elections in a peaceful manner. “The security concerns will be taken care of,” the CEO maintained.
Municipal elections were last held in the State in January 2005 and elected Municipal bodies had completed their five-year term in 2010. Elections to Municipalities haven’t been held for the last about eight and a half years.
Similarly Panchayat elections were last held in April-May 2011 and the elected Panchayats had completed their tem in July 2016. Elections to Panchayats have also not been held since then.
Meanwhile sources told KNS that the authorities are selectively clubbing the highly volatile constituencies in the Kashmir Valley with peaceful ones from the Jammu region and the border districts to finalise the urban local bodies polls in J&K.
A top official told KNS that the situation in the State warranted “a calibrated” approach to hold the much-awaited polls for urban local bodies and panchayats, as all major regional parties still find it hard to hold any public activity in the Kashmir Valley, especially in south Kashmir.
“We are in the process of identifying both highly volatile and peaceful constituencies. These elections will be held in peaceful constituencies in the first phases with a few volatile constituencies along with it. The only way to build a tempo for the polls would be to start from a peaceful note,” said the official.
Both the civil administration and the security agencies have identified the Jammu region and the border districts in Kashmir Valley like Karnah, Uri and Gurez as “peaceful constituencies” for the polls. “Such constituencies will be the first to go to the polls in the multi-phase,” said another official.
Fresh panchayats polls were supposed to be held in 2015. However, these elections were deferred on many occasions due to unrest in Kashmir.