Early Times Report
Jammu, Feb 16: Administration is hoping to make ‘foolproof’ security plan for Jammu and Kashmir panchayat by polls for the vacant 11,639 seats to be held in eight different phases beginning March 5, said officials.
Security will be provided according to the threat perception to each individual candidate and different security agencies will be roped in for the task. A security review meeting held in Srinagar and Jammu decided that the army will conduct night dominance in the areas where polls will be conducted.
Additional security checkpoints will be set up around the villages of south Kashmir, which requires special attention due to the militants’ presence.
A senior police officer said that a peaceful environment will be provided so that more people come forward for voting.
“Last time at many places people didn’t file nomination papers, this time things look different and people will not only file the nominations but polling percentage will also go up, “ the officer said.
Out of 137 blocks in Kashmir, 128 having 887 panchayat halqas (areas) will go to polls for 11,457 vacant panch positions. Similarly, out of 148 blocks in Jammu, 146 having 124 panchayat halqas will go to the polls.
Elections will be held in eight phases on March 5, 7, 9, 12, 14, 16, 18 and 20.
The notification for the first phase was issued on Saturday. This will be the first election that will be held under the UT administration after the erstwhile state of J&K was bifurcated into two centrally controlled territories—J&K with legislature and Ladakh without legislature.
The National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had boycotted the panchayat polls held in November-December 2018 and several posts went uncontested since no candidate filed nomination papers.
Roughly 60 percent of the total panchayat seats in Kashmir were left vacant. Most of the vacant panchayat wards were in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district (2,163), followed by Anantnag (1,995) Budgam (1,940) and Pulwama (1,437).
Similarly, of the total 2,182 sarpanch seats in Kashmir, 923 are still vacant-- 36 of them in snow-covered areas.
Since 2018 polls, 504 panches have resigned for different reasons. The highest number of resignations, 129, came from south Kashmir’s Anantnag followed by central Kashmir’s Budgam, 81, and Baramulla and Kupwara, which saw 67 and 61 panches resign respectively.
12 sarpanches, too, resigned, one each in Anantnag and Baramulla districts. Five sarpanches resigned in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district while one sarpanch each from Baramulla, Budgam and Bandipore districts resigned.