Panchayat bypolls in J&K postponed after security threat

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir Election Commission on Tuesday postponed Panchayat by-elections in the Union Territory following a security threat message shared by the administration.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar ordered for withdrawal of the notification for the election with immediate effect, declaring a fresh schedule shall be notified after addressing all the concerns suitably at the earliest, possibly in two to three weeks.

“Now therefore, in exercise of powers under section 36 of Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, read with Rule 8 and Rule 40 of the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Rules, 1996, the notifications dated February 15, 2020 and February 17, 2020 for Phase I and Phase II respectively, and the schedule issued on February 13, 2020 for other phases of Panchayati Bi-Election 2020 are hereby withdrawn,” he said in his order.

The order was issued after the Home Department on Tuesday advised the election authority to consider deferring of the conduct of polls based on credible inputs from the law enforcement agencies.

The Election Commission last week announced by-elections for over 12,500 vacant Panchayat seats in Jammu and Kashmir.

The eight-phase polling was to be held from March 5 to March 20 on a party basis. The poll dates were March 5, March 7, March 9, March 12, March 14, March 16, March 18 and March 20.

Panchayat elections were last held in 2018 but boycotted by the PDP and the NC.