New Delhi: Voting is underway on Tuesday for the seventh phase of the panchayat polls across Jammu and Kashmir amid tight security. A thick blanket of security was deployed in the state to avoid any untoward incident. Voters were seen queuing outside the polling stations in both Jammu and the Kashmir Valley despite the morning chill.
Polling started at 8 a.m. and will end at 2 p.m. Voting for this phase is being held at 2,714 polling stations — 576 in Kashmir and 2,138 in Jammu. At least 892 polling stations have been categorised as hypersensitive in this phase — 428 in Kashmir and 464 in Jammu.
A total of 5,575 candidates are in the fray for 341 sarpanch and 1,798 panch seats while 85 sarpanches and 912 panchs have already been elected unopposed in this phase.
Some 475,865 electors will be voting for Sarpanch constituencies and 345880 for Panch constituencies. Photo Voter Slips have been distributed among the people to inform them of their polling station.
Poll officials said at the end of the sixth phase held on December 1, an overall voter turnout of 73.6 per cent had been recorded across the state.
In the first phase of the panchayat elections held on November 17, an estimated 74.1 per cent polling was recorded across J&K including 64.5 per cent in Kashmir division and 79.4 per cent in Jammu division.
In the second phase held on November 20, overall 71.1 per cent polling was witnessed with an overwhelming 80.4 per cent polling in Jammu and 52.2 per cent in Kashmir.
In the third phase, the state witnessed a polling percentage of 75.2 per cent which included 55.7 per cent voting in Kashmir division and 83 per cent in Jammu division.
In the fourth phase, the state witnessed 71.3 per cent voting with 82.4 per cent electors exercising their franchise in Jammu division and 32.3 per cent in Kashmir division. In the fifth phase, 71.1 per cent voter turnout was recorded.
The nine-phased elections that began on November 17 are slated to end on December 11. Panchayat polls were last held in Jammu and Kashmir in 2011.
Both the NC and the PDP boycotted the panchayat polls, demanding that the Center cleared its stand on Article 35 (A). Governor Satyapal Malik reportedly spoke to the two parties that it wasn’t the “right time” to take this position vis-a-vis Article 35A or Article 370, said a report.