The polling for the third phase of District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir began on a dull note as foggy and chilly weather conditions kept most people indoors early on Friday, officials said. People who came from Pakistan as refugees also casted their ballot and was seen celebrating on the streets. “This is first time in over 70 yrs that we’re voting in local body polls. We’re happy to participate in democratic process,” says a voter. Also Read - A Uniform Body Of Law Strengthens The Sovereignty Of State And Uniform Civil Code Is The First Step Towards It

The polling for 33 DDC seats — 16 in Kashmir and 17 in Jammu division — began at 7 am but little enthusiasm was seen at the polling stations in the valley, the officials said.

They said voter turnout in expected to pick up later in day as the polling is scheduled to conclude at 2 pm. There are a total of 305 candidates in the electoral fray including 166 from Kashmir division and 139 from Jammu division for DDC elections in phase 3. Out of 305 candidates, 252 are men whereas 53 are women candidates.

Polling is also being held for vacant panch and sarpanch constituencies as well. Out of the 126 constituencies, polling will take place in 66 constituencies and a total of 184 candidates are in the fray. Forty sarpanch constituencies have been filled unopposed.

Similarly, in panch by-elections, there are 1738 constituencies, and out of them 798 have been elected unopposed.

Polling will take place in 327 constituencies and there are 749 candidates are in the fray.

As many as 7,37,648 electors are eligible to cast their votes in phase 3 which includes 385675 men and 351973 women.