Srinagar: Amid terror threats and boycott calls by separatist groups and the two main regional parties, the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), polling for the first phase of municipal elections in 422 of the 1,145 wards began on Monday morning.
Unprecedented security arrangements have been put in place by the state authorities and the Election Commission to ensure peaceful polls. Also, all candidates have been provided either cluster security in hotels or individually in the Valley.
According to the Election Commission, a total of 1283 candidates will be contesting in the 422 municipal wards today. This time, a large numbers of independent candidates are also in the fray.
This municipal election is witnessing two significant firsts. In a major development, Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are being used for the first time in accordance with the rules that have been amended in 2016.
In another first, the Election Commission is providing voting facilities to Kashmiri migrants by means of postal ballots. Since the migrants continue to be enrolled in their respective assembly constituencies from which the municipal committees or panchayats would derive the rolls, facilities will be provided for them to vote.
The polling, which began at 7 AM, will culminate at 4 PM today, and counting of votes will be done on October 20.
Earlier, Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam had announced that the Centre would provide a month’s worth of extra salary to all those government employees deployed on duty during polls.
In the wake of the polls, mobile internet services have been suspended in South Kashmir, while mobile internet speed has been reduced to 2G in other parts of the Valley.