Voting has started in the third phase of the Jammu and Kashmir urban local body elections this morning. Sources said there is likely to be no change in the trend of low voter turnout in Kashmir valley as most of the wards going to the polls are in downtown city areas and south Kashmir, where there has been tension over the elections.
Of the 40 wards where polling is going on, 20 are in Srinagar city’s downtown area, where the voter turnout in past elections has been low.
Some of the localities are Khanqah-e-Mualla, Maharajgunj and Makhdoom Sahib. Ten other wards in the civil lines area of the city where polling is going on include Lal Chowk, Rajbagh and Ikhrajpora.
The voter turnout, however, is expected to be high in 13 wards in north Kashmir’s Uri. A similar trend might be seen in seven wards in Mattan area of Anantnag district, which has a significant Kashmiri migrant population.
Although 207 wards in Jammu and Kashmir were scheduled to go to the polls in the third phase, polling is being held in 96 wards — 56 in Samba district in Jammu division and 40 in Kashmir valley.
While results for 49 wards in the valley were declared uncontested when nominations were filed on 3 October, no nominations were filed for 62 wards — mostly in Pulwama and Anantnag in south Kashmir.
At least 365 candidates are contesting — 242 for four municipal bodies in Samba district and 123 for Kashmir valley’s four municipal bodies. The polling began at 6 am and will end at 4 pm, officials said.
A thick security cover has been provided at all polling stations. Security forces have been carrying out area-domination patrols for the last few says, officials said.
The National Conference, the Peoples Democratic Party and the CPI(M) have boycotted the elections over the Article 35-A matter.
The voter turnout in the first two phases has been low.