Under a heavy security blanket, Jammu and Kashmir witnesses the first phase of civic polls in last 13 years today – an election made controversial after the two key parties in the Valley, National Conference and Mehbooba Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party, pulled out. However, many voters complained that they were clueless about the candidates and the voting schedule.
Amid threats from militants and boycott calls by separatist groups, polling will be held for 422 of the 1,145 wards in the first phase of urban local bodies elections in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday. A total of 1,204 candidates are in the fray.
However residents said that no one knows the candidates contesting elections. “Ask anyone here if they know who the candidates are, they will tell you they have no idea. There is too much secrecy,” said Shoaib Ahmad, a resident of Srinagar, who is voting in the first phase. He further added that the government was only interested in showing that an election was being held, but did not intend to conduct the polls in a proper manner.
As quoted by a national tabloid Hindustan Times, echoing Shoaib’s words, Ishfaq Ahmad, a resident of Ganderbal, which will vote in the last phase on 16 October, said “We have no idea who is contesting from our ward. There has been no campaign or door-to-door canvassing by anyone. Even the government has not put the details of the candidates on the election commission website. There are simply no details anywhere.”
Unlike the situation in the Valley, the mood is upbeat in Jammu.
As per there reports, the mood is upbeat in Jammu unlike the situation in Valley. Nearly 40,000 additional security personnel have been deployed in 149 wards in volatile districts of Kulgam and Anantnag in south Kashmir, Budgam in central Kashmir, and Baramulla, Bandipora and Kupwara in north Kashmir. Bullet-proof bunkers have been set up on all main roads across the Valley to stop suicide attacks by militants.