Srinagar: Polling will be held only for two municipalities — Ganderbal and parts of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) — in the fourth and last phase of civic elections on Tuesday in Kashmir, which has seen a dismal voter turnout of 6.7 per cent so far.
Reports said that out of eight municipalities, which were scheduled to go to the polls in the last phase, only two will see voter activity as other civic bodies either didn’t get candidates to contest or candidates won uncontested. The municipal polling, which started on October 8, didn’t attract people amid militant threats and a poll boycott by separatists and Kashmir’s two major political parties – National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party.
Out of 132 wards, 44 have remained vacant while 52 candidates have won election without a contest in the fourth phase of the polling. Only 36 municipal wards of Ganderbal and SMC will face the contest between 151 candidates. The elections in Jammu concluded with the third phase of elections on October 13.
Due to the fragile security atmosphere in Kashmir, the election authorities had put the volatile areas of south Kashmir for polls in the last phase. The south Kashmir municipalities of Khrew, Shopian, Pulwama, Pampore, and Dooru-Verinag, which were scheduled to go to the polls on October 16, have no candidates to contest. The Khrew municipality received no nomination while 35 candidates won uncontested from other four municipalities, where 42 remained vacant out of total 77 wards. Similarly, the north Kashmir’s 13-member Pattan municipality will have no contest as 11 candidates, who had filed the nominations, have won uncontested. However, the focus will be on central Kashmir’s Ganderbal, where 38 candidates are contesting for 12 wards and the SMC, where 113 candidates will be contesting from 24 wards, mostly in volatile areas of old city. In the third phase of municipal elections on October 10, officials say 3.5 per cent voters in Kashmir cast their votes. In the last three phases, the voter turnout in Kashmir was 6.7 per cent. In 307 polling stations, the election authorities have kept the poll timing as 6 am to 4 pm for 241043 voters to cast their votes.
Nearly 100 companies of the Central Armed Police Force and J&K Armed Police have been deployed for the smooth conduct of the elections. Security forces have also erected checkposts at sensitive areas in Kashmir to keep an eye on the movement of militants even as separatists have called for a shutdown in poll-bound areas on Tuesday.