J&K Panchayat Bypolls Deferred Due To Security Reasons
A pedestrian walks along the sidewalk by Dal Lake in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India. (Photographer: Sumit Dayal/Bloomberg)  

J&K Panchayat Bypolls Deferred Due To Security Reasons

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The bypolls to panchayats scheduled from March 5 in Jammu & Kashmir has been deferred due to security reasons, J&K Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar said on Tuesday.

By-election to over 12,500 panchayat seats in Jammu & Kashmir was scheduled to be held in eight phases from March 5. "The bypolls to panchayats have been postponed for three weeks due to security reasons," Kumar told PTI tonight. He said this step was taken after inputs given to him by the home department over security issues.

The eight-phase poll was earlier scheduled to be held from March 5-20 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. The Model Code of Conduct came into force with the announcement of the bypolls on Thursday. The CEO has already issued two notifications for the first and the second phase of eight-phase by-election.

Also read: Supreme Court To Jammu & Kashmir: Answer Every Question Raised On Restrictions Imposed

Panchayat elections were last held in 2018 and were boycotted by the Peoples Democratic Party and the National Conference. CEO Kumar earlier on Tuesday 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 & Kashmir and split it into union territories of Jammu & 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". During the meeting, J&K Congress vice president GN Monga said despite issuance of the notifications by the election department, the party's chief in the union territory GA Mir was not allowed to visit Srinagar to hold meetings in connection with the bypolls.

The Jammu & Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party leaders did not take part in the meeting because it believes that the polling cannot take place if the leadership remains under detention, one of its leaders said. The CPI(M) criticised the CEO for failing to invite their party for the meeting and expressed concern over it. "We were not invited to the meeting. We are a national party. It is a matter of concern for us," CPI(M) leader MY Tarigami told PTI. National Conference leader Ratan Lal Gupta said the party is of the view that the situation is not conducive for holding elections.

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