SRI NAGAR: The fate of 1,029 candidates would be decided in 384 wards of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in the second phase polls on Wednesday in Jammu and Kashmir. Of the total 1,029 candidates, 148 are in Kashmir division where 20 wards in Srinagar alone are stronghold of the separatists. As many as 65 candidates — 61 from Kashmir and four from Jammu — were elected uncontested in the ULB second phases.
In 13 wards of Frisal in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district, no candidate is in the fray. There was only 1 candidate for 13 wards at Beerwah area in central Kashmir’s Budgam district. The candidate was elected unopposed. Chief Electoral Officer Shaleen Kabra said 270 polling stations were designated for voting in Kashmir division and 274 in Jammu region.
Polling stations are being guarded by police and CRPF personnel, while the Army is assisting authorities in sanitising sensitive areas, conducting patrol and setting up check-points. About 400 additional paramilitary companies are also deployed. A police officer said security personnel were directed to observe maximum restraint while dealing with the law and order situation. The separatists have called for shutdown in poll-bound areas, while the government declared public holiday in those areas.
In the first phase of ULB polls, only 8.2 per cent polling was recorded in Kashmir while 65 per cent voting took place in Jammu and 62.1 per cent in Ladakh. The third and fourth phase will be held on October 13 and 16. Counting of votes is on October 20.
The fight is directly between the Congress and the BJP and its ally Peoples Conference led by separatist-turned-mainstream politician Sajjad Gani Lone. The NC and the PDP have boycotted the polls by linking their participation to the Centre’s stand on Article 35A.
In view of militant threats, the names of candidates contesting the ULB polls in Kashmir Valley have been kept secret by authorities. Even the voters don’t know the name of their local candidates who are contesting in their respective areas this time.