SRINAGAR: In the wake of the boycott of civic polls by two major political parties and boycott call by separatists and militants in Kashmir, at least 143 candidates have been elected uncontested in the first two phases of 4-phased Urban Local Bodies (ULB) polls in strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir.
According to officials, 143 candidates have been elected uncontested in the State for the first two of the 4-phased ULB polls. 130 candidates have been elected uncontested in Kashmir and 13 in Jammu region.
They said 78 candidates have been elected uncontested in the State for the first phase of the ULB polls scheduled to be held on October 8.
"The nomination papers, scrutiny of documents and withdrawal of candidates for the first phase of polls has ended. The 69 candidates from Kashmir and 9 from Jammu have been elected uncontested for the first phase," they said.
According to the officials, 1283 candidates are contesting 422 ULB wards going to polls in the first phase. Of the 1283 candidates, only 207 are contesting polls in Kashmir. Of the 422 ULB wards, 149 are in Kashmir and since 69 candidates have been elected uncontested, now 138 candidates would be fighting for 80 wards in the Valley.
The state's two major political parties National Conference and PDP have boycotted the civic polls in the State by linking their participation in the polls with central government's stand on Article 35A, which grants special privileges to residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
The smaller Kashmir-based parties have also followed NC and PDP and boycotted the polls. The officials said the process for the second phase of ULB polls, scheduled to be held on October 10 has also been completed. "As the last day for withdrawal of candidates for the second phase of polls has ended, 65 candidates have been elected uncontested for the phase II," they said.
Of the 65 candidates elected unopposed, 61 have been elected uncontested from strife-torn Kashmir. Of the 384 wards going to polls in the second phase, there are 1095 candidates. Of them, only 209 candidates are contesting in Kashmir while rest are contesting from Jammu region.
According to officials, there is no candidate for 13 wards in Frisal area of south Kashmir's Kulgam district as none has come forward to submit the nomination papers.
The south Kashmir districts of Kulgam, Shopian, Anantnag and Pulwama have emerged as a stronghold of militants after the five-month-long unrest in Valley over the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016.
The last municipal election in the State was held in January 2005 after a gap of 23 years. The civic polls could not be held since 2011 due to security concerns.
The separatists have called for a boycott of the civic polls while the militants have warned those contesting the polls of "dire consequences".
In view of the threat perception, about 400 additional companies of CRPF would be deployed for security for smooth conduct of the 4-phase ULB and 9-phase panchayat polls in the State beginning October 8.