Panchayat polls in Jammu, Ladakh and north Kashmir can be held from May 15: CEO | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Panchayat polls in Jammu, Ladakh and north Kashmir can be held from May 15: CEO

The long-pending elections to urban local bodies (ULBs) and panchayats — the two basic democratic institutions in the state — continue to remain a casualty to violence in the state.

india Updated: Apr 11, 2017 15:44 IST
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Voters stand in line as they wait their turn outside a polling station in Baba Nagri area in Kangan, some 50 km from Srinagar on April 9. Eight people were killed in clashes with security forces during Sunday’s bypolls.
Voters stand in line as they wait their turn outside a polling station in Baba Nagri area in Kangan, some 50 km from Srinagar on April 9. Eight people were killed in clashes with security forces during Sunday’s bypolls.(Waseem Andrabi/ Hindustan Times)

A top election official in violence-hit Jammu and Kashmir said on Tuesday the impending panchayat elections in the state can be held in Jammu, Ladakh and north Kashmir from May 15, days after 8 people were killed in clashes with security forces during Sunday’s bypolls to the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat.

The long-pending elections to urban local bodies (ULBs) and panchayats — the two basic democratic institutions in the state — continue to remain a casualty to violence in the state.

While the last ULB elections were held in February 2005, fresh elections have been pending since 2010 after the five-year term ended. Panchayat elections were scheduled to be held in the state earlier this year after its term ended in July last year.

“So far, the state government hasn’t approached us with regard to panchayat elections. By April 18, we will be done with final electoral rolls for the panchayat elections and if the state government intends to go ahead with them, notification for the same can be issued by April 20,” the state’s chief electoral officer Shantmanu told Hindustan Times.

“Subsequently, 25-days time has to be given by election authorities for canvassing and other allied processes and panchayat polls can be conducted, at least in Jammu, Ladakh and north Kashmir, from May 15. South Kashmir can be dealt with later. Ideally, panchayat elections should have been conducted by the end of March,” he added.

On April 15, the counting of votes for the violence-marred Srinagar parliamentary constituency shall be held followed by biennial elections to the legislative council on April 17.

The Election Commission of India deferred the April 12 Lok Sabha bypolls in Anantnag to May 25 after the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) asked the poll panel to postpone it after widespread violence during a similar poll in Srinagar.

In a striking contrast to the paltry turnout of 7.14%, the lowest in almost three decades, in the Srinagar bypolls, panchayats elections in 2011 that were held after a gap of nearly three decades witnessed a turnout of 80% to elect about 33,000 panches and sarpanches in the restive state.

A former sarpanch was killed in Chewa Kalan area of Pulwama district on March 13 this year by suspected militants.

All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference, an umbrella organisation of panchayats in the state, had alleged that the killing was an attempt by militants to derail the process of panchayat elections.

In the past 5 years, 15 sarpanches and panches have been killed.