Inside Kashmir

Polling underway for first phase of DDC elections in Kashmir amid tight security

Srinagar: Polling for the first phase of District Development Council (DDC) elections in 25 constituencies was underway amid tight security in Kashmir valley on Saturday.

Meanwhile, votes were also being cast for Sarpanch and panch bypolls in the valley during the first phase of eight-phased polling.

These polls hold significance as they are the first electoral exercise after the Centre abrogated Article 370 and Article 35 A, besides dividing the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories – J&K and Ladakh on August 5, 2019.

This time there was no boycott call by separatist.

In majority polling stations, long queues of voters, including women, could be seen casting their votes in the valley despite chilly weather condition. A large number of voters were seen waiting for their turn outside the polling stations at Pahalgam, and border areas in north Kashmir.

In the first phase, as many as 3.72 lakh eligible voters are expected to exercise their franchise to elect representatives in 25 DDC constituencies in the valley. The polling which began at 0700 hrs on Saturday will end at 1400 hrs.

Officials said that elaborate arrangements have been put in place for the smooth conduct of the voting, besides special measures have also been taken in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The eight-phased DDC elections are witnessing a triangular contest between the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) — an amalgam of six parties — the BJP and the Apni Party floated by former finance minister Altaf Bukhari. The PAGD, including National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is seeking the restoration of the special status of J&K.

Senior BJP leaders, including ministers, campaigned and sought votes for party candidates. However, PAGD alleged that majority candidates of their alliance were not allowed to campaign and were lodged in hotels and other high security accommodation.

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