Security personnel stand guard in a locality in Jammu. (Photo Credit: PTI)
The panchayat bypolls in Jammu and Kashmir, scheduled from March 5, have been postponed due to security reasons, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shailendra Kumar said on Tuesday. The bypolls to over 12,500 panchayat seats in the newly formed union territory of Jammu and Kashmir were scheduled to be held in eight phases. “The bypolls to panchayats have been postponed for three weeks due to security reasons,” Kumar told PTI tonight.
Kumar said this step was taken after inputs given to him by the home department over security issues. The bypolls were earlier scheduled to be held from March 5 to March 20 on a party basis. The polling was slated for March 5, March 7, March 9, March 12, March 14, March 16, March 18 and March 20.
Office of the Election Authority, Chief Electoral Officer (J&K): After addressing all the concerns suitable at the earliest, possibly in 2-3 weeks, fresh schedule shall be notified. https://t.co/h1wMck6xpk— ANI (@ANI) February 18, 2020
The Model Code of Conduct has been in place ever since the announcement of the bypolls was made on Thursday. The poll panel has already issued two notifications for the first and the second phase of eight-phase by-election. Panchayat elections were last held in 2018 and were boycotted by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference (NC).
Earlier on Tuesday, Kumar held a meeting with all parties on the bypolls, amid criticism by the mainstream political parties about the continuous detention of their leaders and failure to allow them to conduct political activities.
Three former J&K chief ministers—NC’s Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti—are under detention since last year when the Centre had abrogated Article 370 provisions of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and split it into union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
“We held a meeting of all the parties of Jammu and Kashmir to hear their concerns. They raised some grievances in the meeting,” Kumar had told PTI. He had said that “we will try to address the issues suitably”.