Great enthusiasm and eagerness on Monday marked the fourth phase of the 16 phase Panchayat elections in 12 blocks; seven blocks in Jammu region and five in Kashmir division of nine districts in the state. The polls went peacefully and recorded nearly 80% polling.
The seven blocks in Jammu included Nowshera and Kalakote in Rajouri district, Lohai Malhar, Bani and Duggan in Kathua district, Ghordi in Udhampur and Mahore in Reasi, while five blocks of Kashmir division which went to polls were, Ramhal in Kupwara, Rohama in Baramulla, Wakoora in Ganderbal, Devsar in Kulgam and Beerwah in Budgam.
As many as 345 Sarpanches and 2505 Panches were elected in all 12 blocks. A total of 2110 candidates were in fray for Sarpanch constituencies, including 18 women and 4408 for Panch segments, including 1417 women.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Jammu and Kashmir, B R Sharma said the elections were peaceful and there was no report of any violence. “The average polling in all 12 blocks was 80% with voters once again coming out in large number,” he said. Official sources said that 85% voting was recorded in Nowshera, 83% in Kalakot, 68% in Ghordhi, 75% in Lohai Malhar, 85.5% in Bani, 78.95% in Duggan, and 84% in Mahore blocks of Jammu region.
Polling was held from 8 am to 2 pm and votes were being counted at various stations and all results were expected to be declared till late evening. “Tight security arrangements were made at the polling stations in view of increase in militancy related incidents in past one week,” sources said.
The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had voiced delight over the large turnout. He said it demonstrated that people want to decide their fate themselves. Prime Minister’s statement came against the backdrop of separatists and militants’ call to boycott the Panchayat polls.
The Panchayat polls are being held after a gap of 10 years.
Chief minister Omar Abdullah, however, had written on micro-blogging site Twitter; “In reality this is 1st Panchayat election after 33 years. 2000 was only on papers. More than 1/2 of seats remained empty.”
The first phase of Panchayat polls had recorded 79.77% polling while the second and third phases witnessed 82% and 79% polling.
The elections for the fifth phase will be held on April 30, sixth phase on May 4, seventh phase on May 8, eighth phase on May 12, ninth phase on May 16, tenth phase on May 21. Last six phases will be held on May 25, May 29, June 2, June 6, June 11 and June 16.