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Panchayat Polls-2018: JK witnesses 75.2% voting in Phase-III

Panchayat Polls-2018: JK witnesses 75.2% voting in Phase-III
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83% turnout in Jammu division, 55.7% in Kashmir division

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JAMMU: Kashmir recorded 55.70 per cent voting while Jammu region witnessed an impressive turnout of 83 per cent on Saturday in the third phase of the panchayat elections in the state where a retired Army captain was killed in a clash between rival groups at a polling station.
The trend of high voter turnout in the panchayat polls continued despite militant threats and boycott by main regional parties – the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shaleen Kabra said the state recorded over 75 per cent of polling as 3.20 lakh electorate exercised their franchise in the third phase of the panchayat elections Saturday.
Honorary captain (retd) Mohd Hafiz, 60, was killed and several others were injured after a heated argument between two groups turned violent at a polling station in Joura panchayat of Block Kahara in Doda district, police said.
Two of the injured were critical and shifted to a local hospital at Kahara, Bhaderwah ASP Rajinder Singh said.
“We will register a case under relevant sections against persons involved in the incident,” he said.
The polling began at 8 am in 2,773 polling stations, including 918 in Kashmir division and 1,855 in Jammu division, and ended at 2 pm, officials said.
Voting turnout in Kupwara was 59.7 per cent, Bandipora 51 per cent, Baramulla 30.8 per cent, Ganderbal 12 per cent, Budgam 41 per cent, Kargil 75.6 per cent, Leh 64.1 per cent, Kishtwar 85 per cent, Doda 77.4 per cent, Ramban 85.7 per cent, Udhampur 83.8 per cent, Kathua 83.2 per cent, Rajouri 80.3 per cent and Poonch 87.8 per cent.
Poonch district in Jammu region recorded the highest polling of 87.8 per cent, while Ganderbal district in central Kashmir recorded the lowest at 12 per cent, they said.
The nine-phased elections began on November 17 when the state recorded 74.1 per cent polling. The voting turnout in the second phase of the panchayat polls on November 20 was 71.1 per cent, officials had said.
The turnout in rural areas was higher in Kashmir Valley unlike during the recent urban local bodies elections where barely four per cent of the electorate voted.
Major regional parties — the NC and the PDP — had decided not to participate in the local bodies polls.
Among other districts of Jammu division, they said, Kathua, Ramban and Rajouri districts witnessed 62.5, 62.2 and 61 per cent polling, respectively, followed by Doda and Kishtwar which recorded 52.3 and 51.1 per cent respectively.
In Kashmir division, Bandipora district topped the turnout chart with 40.3 per cent polling, followed Badgam 33.1 per cent, Baramulla 20.1 per cent and Kargil 52.5 per cent besides Leh 40.1 per cent, they said.
The officials said 727 polling stations have been categorised as hypersensitive, including 493 in Kashmir division and 234 in Jammu division, for the third phase of the polls.
They said 5,239 candidates are in the fray for 358 sarpanch and 1,652 panch seats.
Ninety-six sarpanchs and 1,437 panchs have been elected unopposed in this phase, they added.
The officials said an electorate of 4,23,592 are eligible for voting for sarpanch constituencies while 2,70,668 for panch constituencies.
The polls are being held after a delay of two years when the state is under the Governor’s rule. The counting of votes will be held on November 27.

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