Yesterday, the security had been beefed up in the Jammu Kashmir state, the forces going as far as frisking and having sniffer dogs with them.
Even the poll booths are under tight security as the Army got intelligence that some 300 militants were waiting to infiltrate the borders and some 250 ultras were waiting at the launch pads.
This election is controversial as it is the first one in 13 years as the 2 main parties- National Conference and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) pulled out.
At the insistence of the Center of the state’s 1100 municipal wards, 422 will go to polls today. The list includes 149 seats in the Valley, 26 in Ladakh, Jammu and Pirpanjal region.
The elections will be held in 4-phases as today’s elections will begin at 07:00 AM & end at 04:00 PM.
The 1st-phase elections campaigns were stopped on Saturday as the militants’ threats were made aware.
But what is interesting to know is that many Srinagar voters are clueless of the candidates for whom they have to vote or as a matter of fact when to vote.
Shoaib Ahmad, a resident of an uptown Srinagar locality said people in his ward did not know who the poll candidates were. “Ask anyone here if they know who the candidates are. Everyone will tell you, they have no idea,” he said. Ahmad added that the government was only interested in “showing” that elections were being held.
“We have no idea who is contesting from our ward. There has been no campaign or door-to-door canvassing by anyone so far. Even the government has not put the details of the candidates on the election commission website. There are simply no details anywhere. Only the candidate would know that he is contesting. Perhaps, even their family does not, such is the secrecy,” a Ganderbal resident said.
“People are clueless about the date of voting. The government should have advertised in newspapers with poll details on a phase-basis. Most of the people here do not know their ward numbers. Nothing like this has ever happened,” another resident said.
According to a senior Congress leader: “This is the most low profile election in the history of the state. We have not seen anything like this. The atmosphere was not conducive for the polls, but it was thrust on us by the Centre.
We have received complaints of people not knowing who is in the fray. See, the candidates have been taken to secure locations and virtually put under house arrest.”
According to the latest reports, around 240 candidates have been elected unopposed, a majority of them from the Kashmir valley. The BJP has said that it has got control over seven municipal committees in Kashmir Valley as 75 of its nominees have been elected unopposed.
The Congress has failed to convince any of its members to contest in the elections.
Today’s polls will see 40000 para-military forces along with massive security already in place in the Valley.
While the today’s elections end at 04:00 PM, the 2nd phase will begin on the 10th of October, the 3rd on the 13th and the 4th on the 16th of October.
The results will be announced on the 20th.