Jammu and Kashmir is set to hold panchayat (village council) polls on Wednesday —for the first time in 10 years —amidst a boycott called by separatists and militants.
While separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani asked people to boycott the polls last week, various militant groups have splashed anti-poll posters across the valley. On Monday, posters and notices on letterheads of terror outfit LeT appeared in Baramulla, where polling will be held on Wednesday.
Geelani has been delivering anti-India and anti-poll speeches during the week and has cautioned people against participating in the polls.
The state government has decided to upgrade security to foil any attempt by militants to disrupt the elections.
DGP Kuldeep Khoda reviewed the security arrangements in the Valley on Monday and called for synergy between various law-enforcing agencies to ensure free and fair elections. “Nobody will be allowed to vitiate the atmosphere and create obstacles to smooth conduct of polls,” he said.
The 16-phase elections, from April 13-June 30, will see more than 5,000,000 voters choosing 4,130 village heads and 29,719 panchayat members in 143 developmental blocks.
Eight blocks including Bishnah, Samba and Udhampur in Jammu district and Kangan, Budgam, Quimouh and Kupwara in Kashmir region will go to polls on Wednesday.
The elections are being held on a non-party basis with none of the mainstream political parties officially fielding their candidates. This means the ruling alliance partners, Congress and National Conference, can contest against each other.