SRINAGAR, OCTOBER 12: At least 365 candidates are in the fray in the penultimate phase of the urban local bodies polls in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday. The four-phase elections began on October 8 and will end on October 16.
In the first two phases polls, a majority of people stayed away from polling booths in Kashmir Valley for where the turnout was at 8.3 per cent only in the first phase while phase-II witnessed meager 3.4 percent turnout.
Polling in both the phases was by and large peaceful in the four-phase election to urban local bodies, which has been boycotted by two main regional parties – the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Officials said on Friday that security arrangements have been put in place for smooth conduct of the phase of elections which will take place from 6 am to 4 pm.
The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), J&K, Shaleen Kabra this evening said voting will take place at 300 polling stations across the State. The polling time, he said, will be from 6.00 am to 4.00 pm.
In a statement, Kabra said that 365 candidates are in the fray for 96 wards of eight Urban Local Bodies for the 3rd Phase comprising a total electorate of 193990 electors. He said additional poll staff is being deployed at polling stations with a large number of electors.
The CEO 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 for voting. He said Photo Voter Slips have already been distributed among the voters to inform them of their polling station.
Kabra said senior government officers have been appointed as General Observers to oversee the smooth, fair and orderly conduct of polls. “Expenditure Observers are also keeping a watch on the expenditure by the candidates,” he said and added that for the poll day Micro Observers have been deployed in polling stations, particularly those considered sensitive/ hypersensitive.
“Besides, the Zonal and Sector Magistrates have been deployed to ensure smooth conduct of polls as well as monitoring the entire process,” CEO said and added that the Deputy Commissioners are undertaking Videography of all critical events related to the poll process.
He 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. He said adequate security arrangements have been made for smooth conduct of polling across the State.
He said the government has also declared holiday on the day of poll in the municipal areas going to polls so as to enable the voters to cast their vote. He said as per standing guidelines, the Central Government offices shall not be closed but the employees who are electors of the poll going wards and desire to exercise their franchise shall be offered reasonable facility- by way of coming late to office / allowed to leave office early / short absence.
The CEO urged voters to exercise their right to franchise in order to choose their local self-government to address to their local needs. (GNS)