Srinagar: Polling for the first phase of Panchayat elections began in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday even as the Kashmir valley is observing a complete shutdown on the call of Joint Resistance Leadership.
At least 47 panchayat blocks will go to the polls in the first phase on Saturday in a nine-phased election process.
Officials told Kashmir Reader that the election will be held in 16 blocks in Kashmir, 21 blocks in Jammu and 10 in Ladakh region on Saturday.
While the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party have decided to stay away from the electoral exercise, the resistance groups have asked people to boycott the polls and called for a shutdown.
Reports of shutdown were received from all the districts of the valley. Witnesses said that all the shops and business establishments are shut while traffic is off the roads.
They said that the security has been heightened across the valley to stop any untoward incident.
J&K’s chief electoral officer Shaleen Kabra said in a statement on Friday that for phase one of the panchayat polls on Saturday, 427 candidates are in the fray for 536 sarpanch halaqas and 5951 candidates for 4048 panch wards in J&K.
Kabra said polls will be held at 3296 polling stations across J&K, including 1303 in Kashmir and 1993 in Jammu division, on Saturday. The poll timing is 8 am to 2 pm, he said.
Kabra said 5585 candidates are in the fray for 420 sarpanch and 1845 panch seats in phase one.
“85 sarpanchs and 1676 panchs have already been elected unopposed in phase one,” he said.
Kabra said 687 polling stations have been categorised as hypersensitive including 491 in Kashmir and 196 in Jammu division.
He said in areas going to polls in the first phase, 445059 electors will be voting for sarpanch seats while 272792 will be polling for panch constituencies.