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J&K: Elections on vacant panchayat seats likely in Sep-Oct

Ishtiyaq Ahmad 

SRINAGAR, August 29(KINS): Jammu and Kashmir administration is mulling to hold polls on vacant Panchayat seats in September-October this year.

An official at Chief Electoral Officer said that elections on vacant Panchayat seats would be conducted in September-October.

“Notification for dates of elections will be issued in next few weeks,” the official told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS).

He said that final electoral rolls are also being completed.

The government is considering holding polls on vacant Panchayat seats when there have been several attacks on Panches, Sarpanches and political workers in Kashmir. Many have fled their homes while the government has lodged some Panches and Sarpanches in hotels.

The official said the Chief Electoral Officer also discussed with Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha about holding of elections in September-October.

The official said issue is also being discussed with security agencies to ensure adequate security arrangements are in place.  “Majority of seats remained vacant in Kashmir as no candidates were fielded in those constituencies. Most of these constituencies fall in south Kashmir,” the official said.

The Panchayat elections were conducted in November-December 2018 for 4483 Panchayats with a Sarpanch for each Panchayat Halqa and 35029 Panches in Jammu and Kashmir. However, there are over 60 percent Panchayat seats vacant in the new Union Territory.

In Kashmir out of 20093 Panch and Sarpanch seats, only 6162 Panches and 1366 Sarpanches were elected in the polls while 12565 constituencies have remained vacant.

In Jammu, 15800 Panches and 2289 Sarpanches were elected where 166 seats have remained vacant. While in Ladakh, 45 seats are vacant where 1414 Panches and 192 Sarpanches were elected.

The National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party boycotted the polls.

Elections for the Block Development Council were also conducted in Jammu and Kashmir.  A top official of Rural Development Department said that the Centre has also directed Jammu and Kashmir administration to empower Panchayats to maximum level.(KINS)

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