Third phase of J&K municipal polls underway

Jammu/Srinagar: Voters started queuing up outside poll booths in Jammu region’s Samba district, while they came in only in ones and twos in five districts of the Kashmir Valley for the third phase of the municipal polls in the state on Saturday.

Voting began at 6 a.m. and will end at 4 p.m. in Jammu’s Samba district and the valley’s Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla, Pulwama and Bandipora districts.

A total of 365 candidates are in the fray for 96 wards of eight urban local bodies comprising 193,990 electors.

Additional staff were deployed at polling stations with a large number of electors, poll officials said.

Shaleen Kabra, the state’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), said the overall poll percentage in the first two phases of the municipal polls that took place on October 8 and 10, has been 47.2 per cent.

Kabra said that to ensure free and fair elections, observers have been deployed, including micro-observers at 222 hypersensitive polling stations in the Kashmir Division and 19 in Jammu Division.

The CEO said that Basic Minimum Facilities (BMF) have been ensured in all the polling stations across the state.

“Deputy Commissioners are undertaking videography of all critical events related to the poll process,” Kabra said.

“Control Rooms have been established in all the municipal bodies across the state to respond promptly to any complaints of violation of the model code of conduct (MCC) as also to disseminate information to the public.”

The municipal elections that are taking place after 13 years in the state are being held in four phases, covering 79 municipal bodies with an electorate of about 17 lakh electors.

A total of 3,372 nominations have been filed for 1,145 wards. Voting for the fourth and final phase of these elections will be held on October 16.