Second phase of municipal polls to cover 13 J&K districts

Jammu/Srinagar: Polling in the second phase of the four-phase municipal polls in Jammu and Kashmir is scheduled on Wednesday, including in Srinagar, Baramulla, Anantnag and Badgam districts where militants are active.

Wednesday’s polling will cover 384 wards in 13 districts: seven in the troubled Kashmir Valley and six in Jammu division.

In a desperate bid to increase voter participation in the Valley, the authorities have said the voting process will start at 6 a.m. and end at 4 p.m.

The districts which will see polling are Kathua, Kishtwar, Reasi, Ramban, Udhampur, Doda, Srinagar, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Kulgam, Anantnag and Badgam.

A total of 1,198 nominations were received for these wards. After scrutiny and withdrawal, 1,095 contestants are left in the fray.

Of the 1,095, 65 candidates have won uncontested, including 61 from the Kashmir Valley where militant threats and a boycott by the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party have seriously affected mass participation in the elections.

“No polling will take place in 70 wards in the Valley as no nominations were received,” an official said.

“Of 13 wards in Frisal municipal committee in Kulgam district, only one candidate filed papers. Again, out of 13 wards in Beerwah municipal committee of Badgam district too, only one candidate has filed papers,” the official said.

To ensure a peaceful election, 400 additional companies of paramilitary forces have been provided by the Centre to augment the existing strength of police and paramilitary forces in the state.

Separatists have urged people not to participate in these polls while militants have been issuing threats to both the contesting candidates and voters.