Ahead of counting of votes, police foil major plan to disrupt peace in Poonch

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Jammu, December 21: Ahead of the counting of votes polled during the maiden District Development Council elections in the Union Territory, Jammu and Kashmir on Monday seized nearly 1,800 iron rods, wooden sticks and bats, and claimed to have foiled a major bid to disrupt peace in the border Poonch district.

Poonch SSP Ramesh Angral said that most of the seizures have been made in Mendhar, followed by Surankote tehsil. Three people have been arrested and nearly half a dozen vehicles seized in this connection so far, he said, adding that seizures and arrests may increase by morning as police were still looking for vehicles moving under suspicious circumstances in the district.

Mendhar and Surankote are considered to be hyper sensitive areas in the border district. Only Sunday last, nearly a dozen people were injured in clashes at different places in Mendhar during eighth phase of DDC polls on Saturday. Earlier, following reports of booth capturing and other irregularities during seventh phase of polling, Election Commission had ordered repolling at four polling stations in Mendhar A and Mendhar B on December 21.

During repolling on Monday, Mendhar A recorded a voter turnout of 81.6 per cent and Mendhar B 79.9 per cent.

The maiden DDC elections for 280 constituencies across Jammu and Kashmir was held in eight phases beginning November 28. The counting of votes so polled is taking place at respective district headquarters on Tuesday.

Over a dozen former legislators and ex-ministers, apart from their close relatives and family members are among over 2000 candidates contesting the maiden DDC polls, which are the the first major electoral exercise held in Jammu and Kashmir after the bifurcation of erstwhile J&K State into two Union Territories.

UT’s State Election Commissioner K K Sharma said that nearly 30 lakh electorate cast their vote during the DDC polls to decide the fate of 2,181 candidates in the fray in 280 constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir. With each district divided into 14 constituencies, there are 140 DDC constituencies each in Kashmir and Jammu divisions, he added.

Pointing out that all arrangements have been in place for counting of votes at respective district headquarters, Sharma said the counting of votes will start at 9 am Tuesday.