New Delhi: In the first electoral exercise in Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370, nearly 52 per cent turnout was recorded on Saturday in the maiden District Development Council (DDC) polls. State Election Commissioner K K Sharma told reporters that 51.76 percent of the 700,842 eligible voters exercised their franchise during the voting which began at 7.00 AM and ended at 2.00 PM. Also Read - 'Can't Even Kiss My Wife', Says Farooq Abdullah, Laments The Pandemic

Reasi in Jammu recorded the highest voter turnout of 74.62 percent while militancy-infested Pulwama witnessed the least voter participation at 6.7 percent. Also Read - BRO Constructs 110-feet Bailey Bridge at Kela Morh on Jammu-Srinagar Highway in Record Time

Sharma said the voting was peaceful across the Union territory, barring one incident of stone-pelting that took place in Kulgam district of South Kashmir. Also Read - Dal Lake Freezes, Srinagar Records Coldest Night in 30 Years, Administration Deploys SDRF Teams

In the first of the eight-phase DDC elections, voting was held in 43 constituencies, including 25 in Kashmir, and 1,475 candidates were in the fray, according to officials.

Here are the important updates from the day:

3.45 PM: Polling for the first phase of District Development Council (DDC) elections underway in Bufliaz area of Poonch.

3.30 PM: Polling in the first phase of the District Development Council (DDC) elections underway in Budhal tehsil of the Rajouri district.

3.15 PM: 39.69 per cent voter turnout recorded in DDC Elections till 1 pm; highest 59% voting recorded in Samba, says State Election Commission.

3.00 PM: Jammu and Kashmir State Election Commission has prohibited the conduct of any exit poll and publishing/displaying of the result of exit poll for the ongoing District development Council Elections till the last phase of polling.

1:00 PM: 22.12 per cent votes polled till 11 am across Jammu and Kashmir in the ongoing District Development Council (DDC) elections.

12:02 PM: Polling in the first phase of the District Development Council (DDC) elections underway in Doda district.

“Polls started in Bhalessa & Changa DDC constituencies. People coming since 7am. We’re seeing an enthusiastic participation,” says Doda District Development Commissioner

 

11:31 AM: Voters take part in the polling process in the first phase of the District Development Council (DDC) elections in the Garkhal village in Akhnoor, in the Jammu district. Visuals from a local Garkhal school and the Village Panchayat house

09:54 AM: Voters queue to cast their vote in the first phase of District Development Council (DDC) elections, at a polling centre established at Government Secondary School, Raithan in Budgam

09:30 AM: State Election Commissioner K K Sharma said 2,146 polling stations have been set up for the smooth conduct of elections of phase-I.

09:26 AM: Visuals from Harwan area of the Srinagar district. Voting underway

08:22 AM: By-polls for 234 vacant seats of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) are also being held simultaneously.

08:20 AM: “As many as 7 lakh voters shall use their right to vote in phase I of polling on Saturday. Out of 7 lakh voters, more than 3.72 lakh are from the Kashmir division and 3.28 lakh are from the Jammu division,” State Election Commissioner K K Sharma had said earlier.

There are 280 DDC seats in the union territory – 140 each in Jammu and Kashmir regions, the officials said, adding 14 constituencies have been earmarked in each of the 20 districts of the union territory.

The eight-phase elections are seen as a triangular contest among the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), the BJP and the Apni Party floated by former finance minister Altaf Bukhari.

The PAGD — an amalgam of several mainstream political parties, including NC and PDP, seeking the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status which was revoked by the Centre last year — has been accusing the Bukhari-led party of being a B-Team of the BJP.

By-elections to 12,153 panchayat constituencies are also taking place along with the DDC polls. Out of these, 11,814 are in the Kashmir valley and the rest 339 in Jammu.