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J&K records over 74 per cent voting in first phase of panchayat election

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Srinagar, Nov 17: Defying militant threats and boycott calls by separatists, 64.5 per cent of electorate voted in the first phase of Panchayat elections in Kashmir while an impressive turnout of 79.5 per cent was recorded in Jammu region on Saturday.

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shaleen Kabra said the state recorded 74.1 per cent polling in the first phase of Panchayat elections Saturday held in 47 blocks, including 16 blocks in Kashmir, 21 in Jammu and 10 in Ladakh region.

J&K panchayat elections 2018: First Phase Polling to be held today amid tight security

Kabra said the polling passed off peacefully, except for minor clashes and stone-pelting incidents in Mendhar in Poonch district.

Repolling has been ordered at a polling centre in Atholi in Kishtwar district due to technical snag, the official said. The turnout in rural areas was significantly higher in Kashmir Valley unlike during the recent urban local bodies elections where barely four per cent of the electorate voted.

Separatists who asked people to boycott the polls had called for a strike Saturday. Major regional parties -- the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party -- had decided not to participate in the local bodies polls.

As per officials, total polling percentage in Kashmir division was recorded 64.5 per cent as 1.05 lakh of 1.63 lakh voters exercised their franchise in the Valley on Saturday, they said. Giving details, they said Srinagar district recorded 21.8 per cent followed by 30.14 per cent in Budgam, 70 per cent in Kupwara, 69.1 per cent in Baramulla, 56.2 per cent in Bandipora, 60 per cent in Leh and 77.7 per cent in Kargil.

The total polling percentage in Jammu division was 79.5 per cent as 2.35 lakh voters out of 2.95 lakh voted, they said. In Jammu region, polling per cent in Kishtwar was recorded 74.1 per cent, 78.9 per cent in Rajouri, 78.7 per cent in Poonch, 83.6 per cent in Udhampur, 80.8 per cent in Doda, 80 per cent in Kathua and 78.2 per cent in Ramban, they added.

The officials said the total number of electorate in Kashmir was 1,35,774. There will be eight more phases of Panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir.

The first phase polling was held in 47 blocks, including 16 blocks in Kashmir, 21 in Jammu and 10 in Ladakh region. The polls are being held after a delay of two years when the state is under the Governor's rule.The counting of votes will be held on November 27.

The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) was imposed on September 16 continues to remain in force.

The total number of electors in the State is over 58 Lakh. Ans 54 thousand who are eligible to cast their votes in Panchayat Elections.

Baramulla district: 148 candidates are in the fray for 63 Sarpanch Halqas and 630 for 497 Panch wards. Eleven candidates for 15 Sarpanch Halqas and 21 for 105 Panch wards in Ganderbal district, six candidates for five Sarpanch Halqas and nine for 45 Panch wards in Srinagar and 35 candidates for 26 Sarpanch Halqas and 124 for 222 Panch wards in Budgam district are contesting the polls in the first phase.

Kargil: 51 candidates for 23 Sarpanch Halqas and 225 for 179 Panch wards, while in Leh, 64 candidates for 32 Sarpanch Halqas and 207 for 226 Panch wards are in the fray, the officials said.

Kishtwar: 107 candidates for 50 Sarpanch Halqas and 494 for 358 Panch wards are in the fray, the officials said, adding that 190 candidates for 52 Sarpanch Halqas and 626 for 364 Panch wards are in the fray in Doda district.

The officials said 89 candidates for 27 Sarpanch Halqas and 337 for 195 Panch wards in Ramban district and 162 candidates for 42 Sarpanch Halqas and 779 for 332 Panch wards in Udhampur district are contesting the polls.

Kathua: 114 candidates are in the fray for 29 Sarpanch Halqas and 450 for 209 Panch wards, while 121 candidates for 35 Sarpanch Halqas and 469 for 253 Panch wards in Rajouri district.

The officials said 162 candidates for 53 Sarpanch Halqas and 736 for 419 Panch wards in Poonch district are contesting the polls.

The last Panchayat elections in the State were held in 2011 after a gap of 20 years and Panchayats completed their term in July 2016. In 2011, when elections were last held in the state, there were 4,098 panchayats. However, new delimitations have added 280 new panchayats to the list, taking the tally to 4,378. The number of panch segments has gone up by about 4,000, taking the total number of panch constituencies to 33,402. There were 29,402 panch segments in the state prior to delimitation.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has deferred the hearing on these petitions till January next year keeping in view the State Government plea to defer the polls after the conduct of municipal and Panchayat elections.

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