Voting for the fifth phase of panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir began on Thursday amid tight security, PTI reported. The polling began at 8 am at more than 2,512 booths and concluded at 2 pm.
Unidentified election officials said that 4,763 candidates are contesting for 309 sarpanch and 1,534 panch seats in the fifth phase. At least 118 sarpanchs and 1,046 panchs have already been elected unopposed.
Officials said that 769 polling stations are in Kashmir division and 1,743 in the Jammu division. Of these, 848 stations have been categorised as hypersensitive, including 755 in Kashmir division and 93 in Jammu division.
The state recorded an overall turnout of 71.1% in the fifth phase of polls, said the Chief Electoral Officer Shaleen Kabra, according to Kashmir Reader. Kashmir division recorded over 33.7% polling while Jammu division registered more than 85.2% voting.
Reasi in Jammu region recorded the highest polling of 89.1%, while Pulwama district in Kashmir region recorded the lowest turnout of 0.5%, according to ANI.
In Jammu division, Jammu recorded 88.9% turnout, while Ramban had a voter turnout of 85.2%, while Kupwara and Budgam in Kashmir division recorded the highest polling of 42.5% and 34.8% turnout.
The first phase of the polls held on November 17 recorded a voter turnout of 74.1%, including 64.5% in Kashmir division and 79.4% in Jammu. In the second phase three days later, 71.1% of voters exercised their franchise, with 80.4% polling in Jammu and 52.2% in Kashmir.
The state witnessed a turnout of 75.2% in the third phase on November 24, including 55.7% in Kashmir and 83% in Jammu. In the fourth phase held on November 27, the state registered an overall turnout of 71.3%, including 82.4% in Jammu division and 32.3% in Kashmir division.
Both the main parties – the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party – are boycotting the elections over the lack of clarity on Article 35A of the Constitution, which grants special rights and privileges to the state’s citizens. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is not contesting as well – the three parties had also not participated in the urban local body polls last month.