J-K civic polls: Heavy turnout in Jammu, Ladakh; most voters stay away in Kashmir Valley

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The boycott of urban local body polls by several political parties, including the PDP and the NC, failed to dampen the spirit of voters in the Jammu and the Ladakh regions as they came out in large numbers to vote in the first phase of elections on Monday.

Long queues of enthusiastic voters were seen outside the polling stations in Jammu, Poonch, Rajouri districts of the Jammu region and Leh and Kargil in Ladakh the areas of the state which are almost militancy-free and have always ignored boycott calls given by separatists.
Rajouri district with 59 local bodies recorded 81 percent voter turnout—the highest in the state, followed by Kargil in Ladakh region at 78.2, Poonch at 73.1 and Jammu at 63.83 percent. In contrast, the average percentage in the Kashmir Valley was only 8.3 percent, reported PTI.

Jammu deputy commissioner Ramesh Kumar said the elections were peacefully conducted in 153 wards of the district, which has the Jammu Municipal Corporation and seven other municipal bodies, and saw a high turnout.

“There were a total of 154 municipal wards but in ward number 6 in the border town of Arnia, a candidate was elected uncontested and hence 153 municipal wards went to polls on Monday,” he said.

A total of 584 polling stations were set up and the polling was conducted under tight security arrangements, he added.

The 75 wards of Jammu Municipal Corporation saw 447 candidates in the fray – 75 from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), 74 from Congress, 23 from the Panthers Party and 274 independents.

The deputy commissioner said that there was very good cooperation from all the stakeholders in the civic elections being held after a gap of 13 years in the state. “It is a big achievement indeed,” he said.

Counting of votes will take place at government polytechnic college on October 20 and the results will be announced on the same day, he said.

In the Kashmir Valley, polling in 83 wards of the valley began at 7 am and ended at 4 pm amid tight security as the separatists had called for a shutdown. The other 69, where polling was slated on Monday, had been won uncontested.

“Only 7,057 voters of the 84,692 eligible persons turned up to vote in the wards which went to polls Monday. The polling was by and large peaceful,” an official said, reported PTI.

In all the four phases, as many as 244 candidates — 231 in Kashmir and 13 in Jammu — have been declared elected unopposed.

There are 16,97,291 eligible voters in the municipal polls.

The Kashmir Valley has the highest number of 598 wards and an electorate population of 10,32,498, while Jammu has 521 wards with 6,44,568 voters. The Ladakh region has 26 wards with a 20,225 electorate.

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