The third phase of District Development Council polls in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday saw a total turnout of 50.53%, according to the data provided by the Election Commission.

Jammu region recorded a turnout of 68.88%, while Kashmir division saw a turnout of 31.61%. The highest turnout of 75.20% was recorded in Reasi, and the lowest of 10.87% was in Pulwama.

Earlier in the day, unidentified gunmen shot at a candidate at Sagam Kokernag area in Anantnag district during the voting.

In a statement released by the police, the candidate has been identified as Anees-ul-Islam Ganie, who was contesting as an Independent from the Sagam constituency in Anantnag. Ganie received injuries in his left hand and thigh, following which he was shifted to a nearby hospital, the police said. His condition is said to be stable.

An first information report has been registered in the matter and investigations have been initiated, the police said, adding that a search operation was underway after cordoning the area. The police, however, did not give any information on the identity or affiliation of the gunmen.

Meanwhile, the police also instructed all election candidates to provide information before going out for campaigning, pointing out that Ganie had failed to do so. “The information regarding his movement was neither conveyed to PCR nor to concerned police station,” the statement said. “He was instructed to get escort personnel for campaigning purpose which he did not take.”

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah condemned the incident, which is the first attack on an election candidate since the polling process began in November.

“I hope and pray that he [Islam] survives the attack,” tweeted Abdullah. “Elections have always brought out the worst in those forces who have remained inimical to peace in Kashmir.”

DDC polls

Voting for the third phase of the District Development Council elections in Jammu and Kashmir began at 7 am on Friday. The third phase will cover 33 constituencies – 17 from Jammu division and 16 from the Kashmir division, according to PTI.

A total of 305 candidates are contesting elections in the third phase. More than 7 lakh voters will decide their fate.

Eight seats in the Kashmir division are from the south region, The Indian Express reported. Four of these seats are from Pulwama and Shopian districts. Pulwama saw a poor voter turnout in the first two phases. It registered 6.70% turnout in the first phase and 8.67% in the second.

In North Kashmir, Sangrama will be a closely-watched seat. It will witness a triangular contest between People’s Alliance Candidate Suhail Bukhari, Shoaib Lone from Kashmir Apni Party and an independent candidate Irfan Hafeez.

In Wagoora, former Peoples Democratic Party leader Muzaffar Beig’s wife Safeena Beig will contest as an Independent against the People’s Alliance’s joint candidate.

Also read:

  1. J&K: Over 51% total turnout recorded in first phase of District Development Council elections
  2. J&K: Over 48% total turnout recorded in second phase of District Development Council elections’

State Election Commissioner KK Sharma on Thursday announced that proper security arrangements had been made for all the constituencies, PTI reported. He also urged people to follow all coronavirus-related safety guidelines.

The first phase of the District Development Council elections in Jammu and Kashmir on November 28 saw a total voter turnout of 51.76%. The second phase on December 1 registered 48.62% turnout.

This is the first district council elections to take place in Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of special status granted to the erstwhile state under Article 370. It will be held in eight phases till December 19. The results will be declared on December 22.

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 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.