Srinagar: The counting of votes for the four-phased Urban Local Bodies (ULB) polls began on Saturday morning in Srinagar Municipal Committee (SMC) and other Municipal Committees (MCs) in Kashmir valley.
The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), J&K, Shaleen Kabra said that the counting of votes for the Municipal Polls-2018 started across Jammu and Kashmir and the results will be also declared in the evening.
He said the counting updates and results shall be declared by the Returning Officers concerned from the Joint Control Rooms established at the venue of counting at the respective district headquarters.
Unprecedented security arrangements have been made in around the counting centres and only those having valid passes issued by the authorities are allowed to enter there. However, video and photo journalists were not allowed to enter the counting hall by the security forces despite having valid passes issued by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO).
A large number of wards did not see any polling as there was either no candidate or only one contestant. The polling passed by and large peaceful though the voting percentage remained low.
However, two National Conference (NC) workers were killed by gunmen in the Kralpora area of old city shortly before the first phase of polling. The NC and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) besides Communist Party of India (Marxists) boycotted the Urban Local Body (ULB) elections in the state alleging that state and Central governments failed to clear their stand on Article 35 A.
The Congress, which had earlier announced to stay away from the polls, joined the fray in the last minute, saying that field cannot be left open for the saffron party, BJP.
However, Governor Satya Pal Malik questioned the boycott by NC and PDP, saying when both the parties took part in Kargil Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) at Kargil, the issue of Article 35 A was there. ''These parties are misleading people and trying to take political mileage in Assembly elections,'' he added.
The ULB polls were held in four phases, covering 79 municipal bodies with an electorate of about 17 lakh. A total of 3,372 nominations were filed for 1,145 wards and the voting was held on October 8, 10, 13 and 16 October.
However, there was absolutely no campaigning by candidates, who remained confined to secure zones after the killing of two workers of the NC in broad daylight in the old city at Karfali Mohalla Habba Kadal. The names of candidates were also kept secret for security reasons.
According to instructions issued by the office of the CEO, only counting supervisors, counting assistants, observers, micro-observers, persons authorised by CEO (possessing authority letter duly issued by CEO), authorised public servants on duty in connection with the election, and the candidates, their election agents and counting agents will be allowed inside the counting Hall.
As per the instructions, no counting agent shall be admitted into the place fixed for counting, unless he/she has delivered to RO the second copy of his appointment letter after duly completing and signing the declaration contained therein and also the photo identity card issued by the RO.
The election agents of the candidates are also required to produce the attested duplicate copy of their appointment letters, it said, adding that the entry of persons should be strictly regulated and no unauthorized person, whosoever he/she may be, should be allowed to enter the place of counting.(UNI)