Jammu: The sixth phase of District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir is being conducted across 31 constituencies amid high security and under the shadow of COVID-19 pandemic. Simultaneously, the voting is also being held on 334 panch and 77 sarpanch seats. The counting of votes in the DDC elections is slated on December 22. State Election Commissioner K K Sharma had said that all necessary arrangements have been made to ensure peaceful poling besides special emphasis have been made to keep the voters safe from COVID-19. Also Read - Indian Army Chopper Crash Lands in Jammu And Kashmir's Kathua; Pilot Dead, Another Injured

Over 7.48 lakh voters will decide the fate of 245 candidates, including 100 women contestants in this phase of DDC polls. The eight-phased maiden DDC elections commenced on November 28 and so far, voters in 190 constituencies, out of total 280 across 20 districts, have registered their choice. Also Read - Secret Tunnel Used to Infiltrate Terrorists From Pakistan Detected in J&K's Kathua | Watch

While the first phase on November 28 recorded the highest 51.76 per cent polling, the subsequent phases on December 1, 4, 7 and 10 witnessed 48.62 per cent, 50.53 per cent, 50.08 per cent and 51.20 per cent polling, respectively. Also Read - 'Can't Even Kiss My Wife', Says Farooq Abdullah, Laments The Pandemic

The DDC polls are being held along with by-elections to panchayats. This is the first democratic exercise in Jammu and Kashmir since it was reorganised as a Union Territory last year.

In the sixth phase of polling on Sunday, Sharma said the voting would be conducted in 31 constituencies, including 17 in Jammu division and 14 in Kashmir Valley, from 7 am to 2 pm.

“A total of 245 candidates –- 145 male and 100 female — are in fray, including 124 from Kashmir division and 121 from Jammu division, for DDC elections in this phase,” Sharma told reporters here.

He said a total of 7,48,301 electorate, including 3,57,869 women are eligible to vote in this phase, for which 2,071 polling stations with 1,208 in Kashmir division and 863 in Jammu province have been set up.

For sarpanch bypolls, Sharma said a total of 229 candidates, including 65 women, are contesting from 77 constituencies, out of total 127 seats in this phase, while a total of 740 candidates, including 180 women, are in fray for 334 vacant seats out of 1,548 vacant panch constituencies.

(With agency inputs)