Kashmir panchayat polls see large turnout again

By Sheikh Qayoom, IANS,

Srinagar: The sixth phase of panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir saw peaceful polling Wednesday, with voters turning out enthusiastically in nine village blocks.

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A large number of voters came to polling stations in north Kashmir’s Tangmarg and Langate blocks as also in south Kashmir’s Breng and central Kashmir Khag blocks Wednesday morning.

So far, no untoward incident has been reported from anywhere in the valley during the panchayat poll process, police here said.

For the four blocks in the valley where polling was held, 2,563 candidates were in the fray. Voter turnout was 70 percent in Langate, Tangmarg 65, Khag 75 and Breng 66.

Panchayat polls were also held Wednesday in five blocks — Reasi, Majalta, Billawar, Doongi and Thanamandi — of the Jammu region.

Voting started at 8 a.m. and concluded at 2 p.m. Votes would be counted at the polling stations and the results declared by evening.

Instead of electronic voting machines (EVMs), poll authorities are using paper ballots and ballot boxes for the panchayat polls, which are being held in 16 phases. The last phase will be held June 18.

“Panchayat polls are being held through ballot boxes as the State Panchayati Raj Act does not allow the use of EVMs in these polls. The polls are being conducted after a gap of 10 years in the state,” said a senior poll official here.