The first phase of urban local body polls have started in Jammu Kashmir today, and the people of the state will vote for civic body polls for the first time after 13 years, under heavy security of course.

Jammu and Kashmir is currently voting for local urban bodies in 422 of the state’s 1,100 municipal wards today, under the first phase of urban local body (ULB) polls that started today under heavy security. Amid boycotts by two political parties – National Conference and Mehbooba Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party over Article 35A, this is the first time the state is voting for local body governance in 13 years – as the last civic polls were held in 2005.

The four-phased election that started today will end on October 16, during which, a total of 2990 candidates will contest to come into power. The first phase is ongoing today, second phase of the elections will be held on October 10, the third phase on October 13 and the last phase on October 16 and the counting and result declaration will be made on October 20. However, 240 candidates have already won unopposed and with 75 unopposed winners, BJP has said that it has got control over seven municipal committees in Kashmir Valley.

Despite being held after 13 years, the election has lost its sheen especially after the two major political parties considered to be having the most influence in local bodies pulled out as protest against the uncertainty of existence of Article 35A – which essentially excludes outsiders from owning property, government jobs and other benefits. Following terrorist threats during polls in Jammu and Kashmir, the Centre has made tight security arrangements across the state to ensure peaceful polls. A total of 40,000 additional para-military personnel have been deployed along with the existing massive armed forces and police forces.