Srinagar, Dec 4: Voting for the seventh of the nine-phased panchayat elections began on Tuesday at 2,714 polling stations in Jammu and Kashmir.
A strong 8,21,743 electorate are expected to exercise their democratic right in 15 districts in the state under unprecedented security arrangements.
The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) has called for a general strike in the poll-bound areas today.
Polling began on a dull note at most of the polling stations in the Kashmir valley, where the mercury was below freezing point. The authorities expect that the polling will pick up as the day progresses in the valley.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) J&K Shaleen Kabra said that 892 polling stations have been categorised as ‘hypersensitive’ in this phase, including 428 in Kashmir division and 464 in Jammu division.
He said polling will be held from 0800 hrs to 1400 hrs. After counting of votes later in the day, results will be declared in the evening.
He said 5,575 candidates are in the fray for 341 sarpanch and 1798 panch seats in the seventh phase, while 85 sarpanchs and 912 panchs have been elected “unopposed” in this phase.
At the end of six phases of panchayat polls, the overall voter turnout of 73.6 per cent has been recorded across Jammu and Kashmir (46.1 per cent in Kashmir division and 82.8 per cent in Jammu division).
Mr Kabra said basic minimum facilities (BMF) have been ensured in all polling stations across J&K, while senior government officers have been appointed as general observers to oversee smooth, fair and orderly conduct of panchayat elections.
‘Also, expenditure observers are keeping a watch on the expenditure by the candidates. In addition, for the poll day, micro observers have been placed in polling stations, particularly those considered hypersensitive. Besides, the zonal and sector magistrates too have been deployed,” he said.
Mr Kabra urged voters to come forward and exercise their right to franchise to choose their local self-government to address their local needs.