Panchayat by-elections in J&K likely in February, March

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Srinagar

By-elections for 12,776 panchayat seats in Jammu and Kashmir are expected to be held in four phases in February and March, a senior government official said on Friday, reported  The Hindu.

The elections are expected to be notified on January 25. Panchayat elections were held in the former State of J&K in 2018 and a total of 27,281 panches and sarpanches were elected, said the report.

As many as 36 Union Ministers will visit the Jammu region and the Kashmir Valley in January 18-23 as part of an outreach initiative, a first since August 6, when the special status of J&K under Article 370 of the Constitution was revoked and the State was bifurcated into Union Territories, it said.

Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy, who will visit the Valley this week, said the objective was to make people aware of the various initiatives taken after Article 370 was revoked, it added.

“I plan to go to schools, colleges and hospitals in the Valley to get first-hand feedback from the people. We will tell them about the development projects taken by the administration in all these months,” The Hindu quoted  Reddy as having said.

Earlier this month, the Centre arranged the visit of 15 foreign diplomats to Srinagar and Jammu.

“These seats could not be filled in 2018; the by-elections could be fought on party lines also. Security is an issue that will be discussed,” the report quoted a senior government official as saying. Several sarpanches elected from south Kashmir are still living in hotels and government accommodation in Srinagar in the wake of threat to their lives.

On October 24 last, elections for 310 blocks were held, out of which 27 candidates were elected unopposed. The elections of BDC chairpersons, held on party lines, were indirect and they were elected by panches and sarpanches of a panchayat falling within a particular block, reported The Hindu.

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