Jammu and Kashmir local body polls: Voting begins for third phase; trend of abysmal turnout unlikely to change, say officials

Voting is underway for the third phase of Jammu and Kashmir local body polls, but there is little hope of any change in the trend of low voter turnout in the Valley as most of the wards fall in the separatist hotbed of downtown Srinagar and south Kashmir.

The polling for the third phase started at around 6.05 am in all the 4 districts after the mock poll was conducted.

Of the 40 wards going to polls on Saturday, 20 fall in Srinagar city's downtown area, where the voter turnout has been generally low since the eruption of militancy in the state in 1989.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The wards in downtown Srinagar going to polls are Khanqah-e-Mualla, Maharajgunj, Jamia Masjid, Makhdoom Sahib, Khwaja Bazaar, Aqilmir Khanyar, Rozabal, Daulatabad, Islamyarbal, Nawab Bazaar, Nawa Kadal, Safakadal, Rathpora, Edigah, Palpora and Tarabal.

Ten other wards in the civil lines area of the city, where polling will be held on Saturday, are Lal Chowk, Rajbagh, Ikhrajpora, Mehjoor Nagar, Natipora, Chanapora, Budshah Nagar, Baghat Barzulla, Hyderpora and Rawalpora.

The voter turnout, however, is expected to be high in 13 wards in the Uri area of north Kashmir's Baramulla district, which has traditionally been a high polling area. A similar trend might be seen in seven wards in the Mattan area of Anantnag district, which has a significant Kashmiri migrant population.

Although 207 wards in the state were scheduled to go to polls in the third phase, polling is being held only in 96 wards — 56 in Samba district in Jammu division and 40 in the Valley. Of the remaining 111, candidates were elected unopposed on 49 wards, while no one came forward to contest polls in 62 wards —  mostly falling in Pulwama and Anantnag district of south Kashmir.

As many as 365 candidates are in the fray — 242 for four municipal bodies in Samba district and 123 for Valley's four municipal bodies. The polling will conclude at 4 pm, officials said.

Preparations for polling have in full swing. According to officials, a thick security blanket has been thrown around the polling stations, while security forces have been carrying out area domination exercises over the past couple of days for ensuring incident-free election.

The National Conference, the PDP and the CPM have boycotted the polls due to the legal challenge to Article 35-A of the Constitution in the Supreme Court.

The voter turnout in the first two phases of the civic polls in the Valley has been low. While 8.3 percent of the electorate turned up to vote in the 83 wards in the first phase on 8 October, the poll percentage fell to an abysmal 3.4 percent in the second phase held on 10 October.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Oct 13, 2018 09:24:25 IST

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