Srinagar:About 52 per cent voters on Saturday exercised their democratic right in the first of eight phase District Development Council (DDC) polls to elect their representatives in 43 constituencies in the Jammu and Kashmir.
Barring a stone pelting incident in south Kashmir, polling was held peacefully, State Election Commissioner (SEC) K K Sharma said at a press conference this evening.
This is for the first time there was no boycott call by separatists for DDC elections, being held for the first time after the Centre abrogated Article 370 and 35 A on August 5, last year.
He said polling has been by-and-large peaceful in 43 constituencies of DDC that went to polls today in which 3,62,766 voters including 1,93,375 males and 1,69,391 females out of 7,00,842 voters, voted to choose their representatives in their respective councils.
The SEC further informed that the Reasi District recorded the highest polling at 74.62 per cent followed by Rajouri District at 70.52 per cent and Poonch with 68.69 per cent polling in Jammu region. In Kashmir Division, Budgam district recorded highest polling at 56.96 per cent with followed by Kupwara District at 50.74 per cent and Ganderbal with around 48.62 per cent polling.
Giving the district wise details about the DDC, Mr Sharma said that in Kashmir Division, the polling percentage recorded in Bandipora was 43.57 per cent, Baramulla 32.51 per cent, Srinagar 33.76 per cent, Pulwama 6.70 per cent, Shopian 42.58 per cent, Kulgam 34.35 per cent, Anantnag 43.32 per cent voters casted their votes.
Similarly, in Jammu division Kishtwar has voting percentage of 55.16 per cent, Doda 64.49 per cent, Ramban 64.21 per cent, Udhampur 57.13 per cent, Kathua 62.82 per cent, Samba 68.61 per cent and Jammu 61.49 per cent people exercise their right to franchise during first phase of elections.
The SEC further said that large numbers of people have come out to cast their votes during first phase of District Development Council Elections 2020 and Panch/Sarpanch By-polls. Long queues can be seen despite of severe cold conditions in Kashmir Division and hilly areas of Jammu Division, he added.
The SEC said that the DDC elections will play a decisive role towards development at a grass root level. He informed that the polling went peaceful and smooth across the region. He appreciated every stakeholder for their tireless efforts for the successful conduct of the polling process. Adequate security personals were deployed at all polling stations to ensure the smooth conduct of the polls, he said.
The SEC further informed that arrangements regarding second phase of elections have been put in place which is going to be held in 43 constituencies including 25 in Kashmir division and 18 in Jammu division.
Officials said that elaborate arrangements have been put in place for the smooth conduct of the voting, besides special measures have also been taken in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The eight-phased DDC elections are witnessing a triangular contest between the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) -- an amalgam of six parties -- the BJP and the Apni Party floated by former finance minister Altaf Bukhari. The PAGD, including National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is seeking the restoration of the special status of J&K.
Senior BJP leaders, including ministers, campaigned and sought votes for party candidates. However, PAGD alleged that majority candidates of their alliance were not allowed to campaign and were lodged in hotels and other high security accommodation.
Officials said that there are total 280 constituencies in UT of J&K (14 in each district) out of which voting will be conducted in 43 constituencies, 25 in Kashmir and 18 in Jammu. “A total of 296 candidates are in electoral fray, including 207 male and 89 female candidates, for DDC elections in Phase I in J&K,” they said.
Similarly, they said in Panchs bypoll elections, which are going to be held in 368 constituencies, total 852 candidates are in electoral fray out of which 635 are male and 217 are female candidates.They also informed that 768 Panchs, including 36 Sarpanchs, have been elected unopposed.
They said more than 57 lakh voters in J&K who are eligible to cast their votes out of which 7 lakh voters shall use their right to vote in phase I. “Out of 7 lakh voters more 3.72 lakh are from Kashmir division and 3.28 lakh are from Jammu division. 2146 polling stations have been setup to conduct the elections of Phase I in smooth manner,” they added.
They said on Friday the polling stations in J&K were sanitized in view of COVID-19, adding that the availability of all protective and sanitisation equipment like sanitizers, non-contact thermometers, facemasks , face-shields and PPE kits have been provided at the polling stations for the staff and the voters.
The DDC elections and Panchayat bypolls 2020 are being held in eight phases commencing from Saturday to December 19. The counting of votes shall be conducted on December 22.
Officials said the State Election Commissioner has directed for setting up of special polling stations for Kashmiri migrants at Jammu and Udhampur so that they can effectively exercise their right of franchise.(UNI)