239 candidates in fray in 34 DDC constituencies going to polls on Monday

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Panchayat by-election to witness polling for less than 18% panch and nearly 40% sarpanch seats

Special polling stations for Kashmiri migrants set up at Jammu and Udhampur

Jammu, December 6: Like the previous three phases of panchayat elections, less than 18 per cent of Panch vacancies and nearly 40 per cent of Sarpanch seats will go to polls during the fourth phase on Monday in Jammu and Kashmir.

Giving details, sources said that of the total 1,207 panch vacancies notified by  by-election, polling will be held for only 216 seats and candidates in 416 places already stand unelected unopposed. For the rest 632 seats, there have been no contestants as no one has filed nomination papers there.

Similarly, the State Election Commission has notified 123 Sarpanch seats for fourth phase of panchayat by-elections. Of these, polling will be held for only 50 vacancies. While candidates stand elected unopposed at 45 places, there are no contestants for remaining 28 seats.

Almost all these vacancies are reported to be in Kashmir Valley, where elected panchayat members are targets of militants.

During the third phase of panchayat by-elections held across the UT on December 4, a total of 1,738 panch and 126 sarpanch vacancies were notified for by-election. However, of them, polling took place for only 327 panch setats as as no one had filed nomination papers at 613 places, and the remaining 798 candidates already stood elected unopposed. Similarly, polling took place for only 66 sarpanch seats as there were no candidates at 20 places and candidates for 40 vacancies were elected unopposed.

The situation was no different in earlier two phases of panchayat byelections held on November 28 and December 1.

During the 2018 panchayat elections for 33,592 panches and 4,290 sarpaches, only 22,214 panches and 3.459 sarpanches were elected. Later, following election of chairpersons of Block Development Councils in 2019, another 307 seats of panches and sarpanches fell vacant.

During the eight-phase by-elections for panch and sarpanch vacancies along with the DDC polls, 12,153 panch and 1.088 sarpanch vacancies are going to the polls. Of these, 11,814 panch and 935 sarpanch vacancies are in the Valley.

About the maiden District Development Council elections, sources said that 7.17 lakh  electors will exercise their right to franchise to decide the fate of 249 candidates who are in fray in 34 constituencies going to polls during the fourth phase on Monday across the UT. Of these, 17 DDC constituencies each are in Kashmir and Jammu divisions.

There are 1910 polling stations setup across the UT for this phase out of which 781 are in Jammu division and 1129 are in Kashmir division. Out of these 1910 polling stations, there shall be poll for Sarpanch vacancies on 212 polling stations and Panch vacancies on 219 polling stations, along with the DDC polls. Out of the 1910 polling stations 1152 are Hyper sensitive, 349 are sensitive and 409 have been categorized as normal.

Polling for this phase shall be conducted from 7 am to 2 pm, an official statement said, adding that all arrangements for this phase are in place including man power, election material and security arrangements in all poll going areas. In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, adequate arrangements have been put in place to ensure safety of all stake holders including the voters coming to vote at the polling stations, including availability of sanitizers, thermal scanners and face masks have been arranged at the polling stations to ensure that SOPs issued by the concerned authorities, including wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing, are strictly followed at the polling stations.

Special Polling Stations at Women College Gandhinagar, Jammu and Girls Higher Secondary School Udhampur have been set up to facilitate physical voting by Kashmiri Migrants, it added.