Jammu & Kashmir Panchayat elections likely to be held on May 15

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Srinagar, April 20: Despite the fresh round of unrest in Kashmir Valley, the panchayat elections slated for next month are unlikely to be cancelled. As per reports, the polls for village bodies will be conducted in 15 out of the 22 districts in Jammu & Kashmir. The 7 districts where polls would be deferred fall in South Kashmir, the region gripped under secessionist wave. Out of the districts where election would be held – 10 fall in Jammu region, 3 north Kashmir (Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora), and the remaining 2 districts are Leh and Kargil which fall under Ladakh region.

While addressing the press after Srinagar Lok Sabha bye-election, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shantmanu claimed that the panchayat elections could be held from May 15. However, the dates could not be confirmed as the nod of state government is awaited.

The previous panchayat elections in Jammu & Kashmir was held in 2005. Due to the instability over the past 7 years, the local bodies poll could not be conducted by the State Election Commission.

After the panchayat elections, the SEC would also conduct the bypoll for Anantnag Lok Sabha seat. The bye-election was originally scheduled on April 13. However, the spree of violence recorded during the Srinagar Lok Sabha bye-election compelled SEC to defer the polling dates.

In the Srinagar bypoll, only 7.14 per cent voting was recorded, lowest ever in past 28 years. The polling was marred with violence, with over 200 instances of clashes between protesters and security forces recorded. 8 people were killed in retaliatory action by the security forces.

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