Voting underway for phase 2 of Jammu and Kashmir panchayat polls

Voting began at 8 am and will end at 2 pm in 828 polling stations in Kashmir and 1,351 in Jammu division.

Jammu: Voting for the second phase of the Jammu and Kashmir panchayat polls is underway at over 2,100 polling stations in the state.

Voting began at 8 am and will end at 2 pm in 828 polling stations in Kashmir and 1,351 in Jammu division, state chief electoral officer Shaleen Kabra said.

He said 601 polling stations have been categorised as 'hypersensitive', including 490 in Kashmir division and 196 in Jammu division.

Officials said 4,014 candidates are in the fray for 281 sarpanch and 1,286 panch seats in the second phase. Ninety sarpanchs and 1,069 panchs have already been elected unopposed.

The officials said all arrangements, including those related to security, are in place for the smooth conduct of the polls.

The first phase of the election was conducted on November 17 in which 71.4 per cent of electorate voted.

Separatists who asked people to boycott the polls had called for a strike on the polling day. Major regional parties -- the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party -- had decided not to participate in the local bodies polls.

Defying terror threats and boycott calls by separatists, 64.5 per cent of electorate voted in Kashmir while an impressive turnout of 79.5 per cent was recorded in Jammu region, the officer had said.

Kabra said Basic Minimum Facilities (BMF) have been ensured in all the polling stations across the state. Photo voter slips have been distributed among the voters to inform them of their polling stations.

He said senior government officers have been appointed as general observers to oversee the smooth, fair and orderly conduct of panchayat election. Also, expenditure observers are keeping a watch on the candidates, he added.

In addition, for the poll day, micro observers have been placed in polling stations, particularly in those which are considered 'hypersensitive'. Besides, the zonal and sector magistrates too have been deployed, he added.

The government has declared holiday on the polling day in the areas going to the polls.

The officer said special casual leave shall be granted to employees who have to go to other areas to exercise their right to franchise.

The chief electoral officer appealed the voters to come forward and exercise their right to franchise.

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