More than six months after Government of India (GoI) abrogated Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, the Election Commission (EC) on Thursday announced that bypolls for vacant pancch and sarpanch seats in the region would be held in eight phases from March 5 to March 20.
“Polling will be held in eight phases. The first phase of polling will take place on March 5, while the second phase is scheduled for March 7. The third, fourth and fifth phase of voting will take place on March 9, 12 and 14 respectively,” Jammu and Kashmir's Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar said.
The EC has marked March 16, 18 and 20 for sixth, seventh and eighth phases.
"Panchayat elections for vacant posts of every block will be held using ballot boxes. It will be conducted in eight phases," Kumar said.
"From now onwards, the Model Code of Conduct is enforced and it will be implementable in all the places where elections are being held. There will be eight phases of elections. For Jammu division, it is four phases and for Kashmir division, it is eight phases," he said.
Kumar said that no request has been received over the conducting of polls in Ladakh.
“Union Territory of Ladakh has not yet sent us a request for the conduct of elections so we have not included Ladakh. In any case, Ladakh is snow-bound and it is very cold out there. So, it is not feasible to have an election at this point in time," he stated.
This will be the first major political exercise in Jammu and Kashmir after the GoI abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution, which granted special status to the region and bifurcated the erstwhile state into two UTs -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.