Jammu voters started queuing up outside poll booths in six districts while they came in only ones and twos in seven districts of the Kashmir Valley for the municipal polls on Wednesday. Voting for the second phase began at 6 a.m. and will end at 7 p.m. in the 544 polling stations set up in Kathua, Udhampur, Kishtwar, Reasi, Doda and Ramban districts of Jammu region, and Anantnag, Kupwara, Srinagar, Baramulla, Bandipora, Badgam and Kulgam districts in the valley, a poll official said.
A total of 1,029 candidates are in the fray in 263 wards of 270 polling stations in the valley and 274 in the Jammu division. Of these 881 candidates are in the Jammu districts while 148 are in the valley. Mainstream political parties — the National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, CPI-M, Democratic Party Nationalist (DPN) and Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) — have boycotted the elections. Separatists have called for a protest shutdown in areas where voting is scheduled in the valley. Militants have issued threats to contesting candidates and asked voters to keep away from the poll process.
Total electorate for Wednesday’s poll is 3,46,980 of whom 1,28,104 are in Jammu division and 2,18,876 in the valley. “Photo Voter Slips were distributed among the voters to inform them of their polling station. Senior government officers have been appointed as General Observers to oversee that the polls are smooth, fair and in order. “Expenditure Observers are also keeping a watch on the expenditure by the candidates.
In addition, Micro Observers have been deployed in polling stations, particularly those considered sensitive or hypersensitive,” the poll official said. The third phase of the municipal polls would be held on October 13 while the last phase on October 16. Counting of votes would take place on October 20.