The second phase of District Development Council polls in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday saw a total turnout of 48.62%, according to data provided by the chief election commissioner.

The Kashmir division registered a 33.34% turnout across 25 constituencies. The turnout across 18 constituencies of Jammu division was 65.54%.

Pulwama recorded the lowest voter turnout in Kashmir division at 8.67%, while Bandipora registered the highest at 69.66%. In Jammu division, Kathua registered the lowest turnout of 60.10%, while Poonch recorded the highest figure of 75.07%.

Srinagar recorded 33.78% turnout, Shopian 17.28% and Anantnag registered 16.09%. In Jammu division Kishtwar registered a turnout of 61.64%, Udhampur 62.51% and Jammu recorded 69.97% turnout.

Voting for the elections began at 7 am amid severe cold and tight security arrangements.

The first phase of voting for the elections on November 28 recorded saw a total voter turnout of 51.76%. This was the first district council elections in Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of special status granted to the erstwhile state under Article 370.

As many as 321 candidates contested in the second phase of the elections, and around 7.90 lakh people were eligible to vote. Out of the 280 constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir, 43 went to polls in the Union Territory in the second phase. This included 25 in Kashmir and 18 in Jammu division.

The elections to fill up vacant seats of 1,088 sarpanchs and over 12,000 panch positions and Urban Local Bodies are also being held simultaneously. Eighty-three sarpanch and 331 panch constituencies are going to the polls in the second phase.

The authorities had declared all 1,300 polling stations in the Valley as sensitive. Election Commissioner KK Sharma had told reporters on Monday that additional security has been provided in the polling stations.

Voting will conclude on December 19 and the counting of votes will be held on December 22. The results of panchayat bye-elections will be declared on the polling day itself.

The Centre on October 17 amended the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, for holding direct elections for DDCs, which will constitute the third-tier of the panchayati raj system.

Under the new rules, each district will be divided into 14 territorial constituencies by the respective deputy commissioners for electing their representatives, who will then among themselves elect the chairman and vice-chairman of these councils. The councils will replace District Development Boards, which when Jammu and Kashmir was a state, were chaired by a Cabinet minister or a minister of state and included MLAs, MLCs and MPs.

The Block Development Council elections, held immediately after the reading down of Article 370, had failed to revive any political activity. Before the BDC elections, panchayat elections were conducted by the then governor Satya Pal Malik in November-December 2018, which also met with little success as more than 60% panch and sarpanch berths remained vacant in Kashmir.