J&K Panchayat polls: Voting for first phase underway, 18.5 pc turnout till 11 am

Highlights

Voting has begun in as many as 47 blocks in Jammu and Kashmir as part of the first phase of Panchayat elections in the stateTill 11 am, 185 voter turnout was recorded

Srinagar: Voting has begun in as many as 47 blocks in Jammu and Kashmir as part of the first phase of Panchayat elections in the state.

Till 11 am, 18.5% voter turnout was recorded.

Polling is underway in Srinagar, Ganderbal, Budgam, Baramulla, Kupwara, Handwara, Bandipora, Sopore, Leh and Kargil districts.

Out of the 47 blocks, 21 are in the Jammu region, 16 in Kashmir valley and 10 blocks in Ladakh region.

In order to ensure smooth polling, heavy security arrangements have been made with scores of security personnel deployed at every polling booth.

A total of 58.54 lakh voters spread across 316 blocks will be casting their votes between today and December 17.

Dr RK Manahas, Returning Officer said, "There is enthusiasm amongst the voters. We are fully prepared, we are hopeful that voting will be conducted peacefully."

Polling is being conducted amidst boycott calls given by the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference (NC) on account of disagreements with the Centre over Article 35 A.

Article 35(A) article of the Indian Constitution gives the State Legislature of Jammu and Kashmir the power to define the 'Permanent Residents' of the State. The State Legislature is also empowered to give them Special Rights and Privileges.

Polling is scheduled to end at 2 pm.

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