J&K Panchayat Polls Slated For March 5 Postponed Due to Security Issues
SRINAGAR :The bypolls to Panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir, which were scheduled to be held on March 5, has been postponed in view of security issues. An announcement to this effect was made by J-K Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar on Tuesday night.
By-election to over 12,500 panchayat seats in Jammu and Kashmir was scheduled to be held in eight phases from 5 March.
J&K ‘s Chief Electoral Officer said in a statement that they were advised by the Jammu and Kashmir home department to “consider deferring the conduct of the polls based on credible inputs from the law enforcement agencies”.
In the panchayat polls of 2018, two major political parties of Jammu and Kashmir — Mehbooba Mufti’s Peoples Democratic Party and the National Conference of Omar Abdullah did not participate over the issue of special status. The election was largely boycotted in Kashmir and over 12,000 panchayat seats have been lying vacant.
This time, the chiefs of both parties, who have been under detention, have been accused under the tough Public Safety Act. “The bypolls to panchayats has been postponed for three weeks due to security reasons,” Kumar told PTI tonight.
He said the eight-phase poll was earlier scheduled to be held from March 5 to March 20 on a party basis. The polling was slated for March 5, March 7, March 9, March 12, March 14, March 16, March 18 and March 20.
The election for a local government was expected to be the first big political exercise since the state was bifurcated into two union territories. The last panchayat election was held in Jammu and Kashmir in November 2018 – months after the ruling coalition between the BJP and Mehbooba Mufti collapsed and the state was placed under Governor’s Rule. Assembly elections have not been held since, and Jammu and Kashmir continues to be under Central Rule.
“Notifications dated 15th & 17th February issued for Phase 1 and 2 (Panchayat by-elections) respectively and the schedule issued on 13th February for other phases of Panchayat by-elections are hereby withdrawn,” J-K Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar said.
He further added that after addressing all the concerns suitable at the earliest, possibly in 2-3 weeks, fresh schedule shall be notified. On February 13, Shailender Kumar had aid that the bypolls to over 12,500 panchayat seats in Jammu and Kashmir would be held in eight phases from March 5. He had also said that the Model Code of Conduct has come into force with immediate effect.
“After taking into consideration all relevant factors and inputs from various stakeholders, the Jammu and Kashmir election authority has prepared the schedule for the bypolls to panchayat halqas and panch wards. Issuance of the first notification would be on February 15,” Kumar had said.
The Panchayat election was held in November-December, 2018, and 22,214 panches and 3,459 sarpanches were elected in out of 33,592 panch and 4,290 sarpanch constituencies.
Since August, when the Centre had ended the special status of Jammu and Kashmir granted under Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated the state into two union territories, key political leaders of Kashmir Valley – including former Chief Ministers Mehboba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and his father Farooq Abdullah, have been under detention.
In view of that, the opposition parties said they would not contest when the Election Commission announced a massive, eight-phase panchayat election earlier this month.
(With Agency Inputs ).