Defying separatist boycott call in border town of Uri in north Kashmir district of Baramulla 75.3 per cent voter turnout was recorded while just 1.8 per cent votes were polled in summer capital, Srinagar in the third phase of municipal elections on Saturday.
In Bari Brahamana in Jammu region highest 85.73 polls were polled, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) J&K Shaleen Kabra said here this evening.
Polling was by and large peaceful as unprecedented security arrangements have been made to foil any attempt by militants to disrupt the polling following strike called by Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) in areas where polling was held today. Polling which started at 0600 hrs ended at 1600 hrs, he said.
Ignoring boycott call, people in large numbers cast their votes since early this morning in border town of Uri, in north Kashmir district of Baramulla where 75.3 per cent votes were polled till the end of the polling. However, this was 4 per cent less as compared to 2014 Assembly polls when National Conference (NC) candidate Mohammad Shafi wrested seat from Congress.
However, situation elsewhere in the valley, where polling was going on, voters turnout remained low. The CEO said the lowest 1.8 per cent was recorded in Srinagar.
Mr Kabra said that overall 16.4 per cent polling was witnessed in the Phase-III of Municipal Polls-2018 across J&K today.
He said in Jammu division 81.4 per cent polling was witnessed in 4 ULBs of district Samba that went to polls today while Kashmir division witnessed average 3.5 per cent polling with Municipal Committee Uri recording the highest of 75.3 per cent voting. The lowest poll percentage of 1.8 per cent was recorded in Srinagar, he said.
In Jammu division highest polling percentage of 85.73 per cent was recorded in Bari Brahamana ULB, the CEO said.
He said the cumulative poll percentage in all the three phases till date is 41.9 per cent with 68.4 per cent voting recorded in Jammu division and 6.7 per cent in Kashmir Division. The final phase of the Municipal Polls is scheduled to be held on October 16, 2018.
Kabra said that 365 candidates were in the fray for 96 wards of 8 Urban Local Bodies for the 3rd Phase comprising a total electorate of 193990 electors.
The CEO said that due to non-replacement of EVM in time, repoll shall be held at Polling Station No: 9 Bachidarwaza of Makhdoom Sahab (Ward No: 41) on October 16, 2018.
Former National Conference (NC) spokesperson, Junaid Azim Mattoo, who resigned from the party and contested as an independent candidate cast his vote in the uptown. Rejecting allegation that he was puppet of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), Junaid said he was contesting as an independent candidate. The National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had entered into an alliance with the BJP and both the parties are now misleading people, he said.
The areas going to polls in Srinagar are Lal Chowk, Rajbagh, Ikhrajpora, Mehjoor Nagar, Natipora, Chanapora, Budshah Nagar, Bagaat Barzulla, Rawalpora, Hyderpora, Khanka-e-Moualla, Mahraj Gung, Jamia Masjid, Makhdoom Sahib, Khawaja Bazar, Aquilmir Khanyar, Rouzabal, Doulatabad, Islamyarbal, Nawab Bazar, Nawa Kadal, Safa Kadal, Rathpora, Eidgah, Palpora, Tarabal spread over Khanyar, Amira Kadal and Eidgah assembly segments in the down town, civil lines and uptown. During the first two phases of polling in Srinagar the voter turnout was just 6.2 per cent and 2.1 per cent respectively.
However, people in the areas going to polls today alleged that they donot know who are the candidates contesting the polls. We donot even know where the polling stations are, they said. This time names of the contesting candidates were not disclosed for security reasons.
The election will be held in 20 wards of the SMC, 13 wards of Uri Municipal Committee in northern Kashmir’s Baramulla district and seven wards of Mattan Municipal Committee in southern Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
The National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) besides Communist Party of India (M) have boycotted the polls on the issue of Article 35 A.
The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), J&K, Shaleen Kabra said that in the 3rdPhase of Municipal Polls-2018 voting will take place at 300 polling stations across the State today and polling will be from 0600 hrs to 1600 hrs.
Kabra said that 365 candidates are in the fray for 96 wards of 8 Urban Local Bodies for the 3rd Phase comprising a total electorate of 193990 electors. However, the names of candidates have been kept as secret for security reasons. He said additional poll staff is being deployed at polling stations with large number of electors. He said the overall poll percentage in the first two phases of the Municipal Polls has been 47.2 per cent.
’The CEO said that to ensure free and fair elections, Observers have been deployed, including micro-observers at 222 hypersensitive polling stations in the Kashmir Division and 19 in Jammu Division.
The CEO said that Basic Minimum Facilities (BMF) have been ensured in all the polling stations across the State for voting. He said Photo Voter Slips have already been distributed among the voters to inform them of their polling station.
Kabra said senior government officers have been appointed as General Observers to oversee the smooth, fair and orderly conduct of polls. “Expenditure Observers are also keeping a watch on the expenditure by the candidates,” he said and added that for the poll day Micro Observers have been deployed in polling stations, particularly those considered sensitive and hypersensitive.
“Besides, the Zonal and Sector Magistrates have been deployed to ensure smooth conduct of polls as well as monitoring the entire process,” CEO said and added that the Deputy Commissioners are undertaking Videography of all critical events related to the poll process.
Kabra said Control Rooms have been established in all the Municipal Bodies across the State to respond promptly to any complaints of violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) as also to disseminate information to the public. He said adequate security arrangements have been made for smooth conduct of polling across the State.
He said the government has also declared holiday on the day of poll in the municipal areas going to polls so as to enable the voters to cast their vote.
He said as per standing guidelines, the Central Government offices shall not be closed but the employees who are electors of the poll going wards and desire to exercise their franchise shall be offered reasonable facility- by way of coming late to office or allowed to leave office early, short absence.
The CEO urged voters to exercise their right to franchise in order to choose their local self-government to address to their local needs.
Municipal Elections-2018 are being held in four phases, covering 79 municipal bodies with an electorate of about 17 lakh electors. A total of 3372 nominations have been filed for 1145 wards.