Jammu & Kashmir Panchayat Elections 2018: Voting Ends Peacefully For First Phase of Polls
Voters wait outside a polling booth to cast their votes during the first phase of the Jammu and Kashmir panchayat elections (Photo credit: IANS)

Jammu/Srinagar, November 17: Voting ended peacefully for the first phase of Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday as voters turned out in large numbers to participate in the democratic process. The Valley recorded an overall 74.1 per cent voting, while the Ladakh region registered 64.4 per cent voter turnout.

Baramulla district in the Valley recorded the highest voter turnout of 76.3 per cent followed by Kupwara district at 71.94 per cent. Ganderbal district in the Valley registered the lowest turnout of voters at 11.9 per cent. Jammu division registered an overall voter turnout of 79.5 per cent. In Jammu division, Udhampur district recorded the highest voter turnout of 83.6 per cent followed by Doda district at 80.8 per cent. Full Schedule of J&K Panchayat Polls 2018.

Polling started at 8 a.m on Saturday for the first phase of Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat elections under tight security arrangements, and ended at 2 p.m. Very few voters were seen outside polling stations in the Valley in the morning, but as the day warmed up, voters came out to exercise their franchise. Voter queues were seen at all polling stations in the Jammu division right since the morning.

Fifteen districts of the state -- seven in Jammu region, six in Valley and two in Ladakh -- went to polls on Saturday. There were a total of 3,296 polling stations -- 1,303 in the valley and 1,993 in the Jammu region.

In Jammu region, Saturday's polls were held in Doda, Ramban, Rajouri, Kishtwar, Kathua, Samba and Udhampur districts, while in the Valley it took place in Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Badgam and Srinagar districts. Polling was also held in Ladakh's Leh and Kargil districts on Saturday.

State's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shaleen Kabra said 5,585 candidates were in the fray for 420 Sarpanch and 1,845 Panch posts in the first phase. According to him, 85 Sarpanchs and 1,676 Panchs have already been elected unopposed. Keeping the ground situtaion in mind, Kabra said 491 polling stations in the Valley and 196 in the Jammu division were declared as hypersensitive.

Counting of votes was held immediately after the polling ended and results were declared at various polling stations immediately. Contingent plans were drawn for polling stations close to the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border so that these could be shifted to other places in case of a ceasefire violation.

Heavy deployment of police and central paramilitary forces were made to ensure a peaceful polling process. Separatists had called for a protest shutdown on Saturday asking the people to stay away from these elections. This was the first of the nine-phased Panchayat polls, being held in the state after seven years. The last phase of voting will be held on December 11.