Panchayat by-polls deferred in Jammu and Kashmir

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Srinagar: In wake of credible inputs from law enforcement agencies, the by-elections to Panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir scheduled for next month has been postponed, an order issued by office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shailendra Kumar reads.

The by-polls were being held in Jammu and Kashmir to elect Sarpanches and Panches in more 12,500 vacant panchayat seats. The Election Commission had announced the dates for the polls, saying that the eight-phased by-polls will be held from 5 March to 20 March this year.

The order, however, issued by the CEO deferred the by-polls Jammu and Kashmir, saying that “Home Department Government of Jammu and Kashmir vide its letter number Home/ISA/237/2019 dated 18-02-2020 has advised the Election Authority to consider deferring of the conduct of polls based on credible inputs from the law enforcement agencies.”

“Now therefore, in exercise of powers under section 36 of Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, read with Rule 8 and Rule 40 of the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Rules, 1996, the Notifications dated 15-02-2020 and 17-02-2020 issued for Phase-I and Phase-II respectively, and the schedule issued on 13th February, 2020′ for other phases of the Panchayat Bi-Elections 2020 are hereby withdrawn,” the order reads.

It further added that after addressing all the concerns suitably at the earliest, possibly in two to three weeks, fresh schedule shall be notified.

Pertinently, the Election Commission (EC) had on last Thursday announced by-elections for over 12500 vacant Panchayat seats in Jammu and Kashmir, saying that eight-phased polls will be conducted from 5 March to 20 March.

It had said the polling will be held on 5 March, 7 March, 9 March, 12 March, 14 March, 16 March, 18 March and 20 March. Panchayat elections were last held in Jammu and Kashmir in 2018 that were boycotted by PDP and NC.

The CEO J-K Shailendra Kumar had also chaired a crucial meeting with political parties where all the parties minus Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) put two conditions—to hold Panchayat by-elections on non-party or to release leadership that is under detention since 5 August.

The meeting was held following the questions and demands of release of leadership from the mainstream camp here in Jammu and Kashmir. (KNO)

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