Campaigning for the first phase of urban local body elections in Jammu and Kashmir ended on Sunday, a day before voting starts in 422 wards in more than 12 districts, PTI reported. Polling is scheduled to start at 7 am on Monday and 1,283 candidates are in the fray.

Voting in the second phase covering 384 wards will take place on October 10, followed by voting in 207 wards on October 13, and the last phase covering 132 wards on October 16. Votes will be counted on October 20.

Security forces have intensified checking and area domination in the Kashmir Valley, officials told PTI on Sunday. “An elaborate security plan has been put in place for the smooth conduct of the polls,” a senior police official told the news agency. Security forces have intensified checking of vehicles, frisking and area domination in Srinagar and other areas of the valley. Sniffer dogs are also being used to check vehicles, the official added.

Election authorities have designated over 60% polling stations in Kathua and 22% in Jammu district as hypersensitive and sensitive, Greater Kashmir reported. “Of 584 polling stations in Jammu, 128 polling stations [around 22%] have been declared as hypersensitive and sensitive,” District Election Officer, Jammu, Ramesh Kumar told the media.

Separatist leaders have called for a complete shutdown across Jammu and Kashmir on Monday to protest against the commencement of the local body elections. This is the first time since 2011 the state will hold local body elections. However, four parties – the National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Bahujan Samaj Party – have boycotted the elections due to concerns about the Centre’s stand on Article 35A of the Constitution, which grants special rights and privileges to the residents of the state.