Of 1,738 panch vacancies notified for by-election in Jammu and Kashmir in the third phase of panchayat by-elections on Friday, polling will take place only for 327 vacancies, as no one has filed nomination papers at 613 places, and the remaining 798 candidates already stand elected unopposed.
Similarly, of 126 vacancies of sarpanches, polling will take place for 66. While 40 candidates already stand elected unopposed, there have been no candidates in the remaining 20 places, sources said.
Almost all these vacancies are reported to be in Kashmir Valley, where elected panchayat members are targets of militants.
The situation was no different in earlier two phases of panchayat byelections held on November 28 and December 1.
During the 2018 panchayat elections for 33,592 panches and 4,290 sarpaches, only 22,214 panches and 3.459 sarpanches were elected. Later, following election of chairpersons of Block Development Councils in 2019, another 307 seats of panches and sarpanches fell vacant.
During the eight-phase by-elections for panch and sarpanch vacancies along with the DDC polls, 12,153 panch and 1.088 sarpanch vacancies are going to the polls. Of these, 11,814 panch and 935 sarpanch vacancies are in the Valley.
Sources said that during the first phase, 1,669 panch vacancies of were notified for by-election, while elections took place for only 368, as there had been no candidates at 533 places and the remaining 768 vacancies got filled up unopposed.
Similarly, out of 146 vacancies of sarpanches notified for by-election in the first phase, polling took place for only 94 seats. Of the remaining 52 vacancies, while there had been no contestant at 16 places, candidates at other 36 places got elected unopposed.
In the second phase of elections, there were 1,815 panch vacancies, but polling took place at only 331 places. Of the remaining, no nomination was filed at 680 places, and 804 others got filled up unopposed, it is learnt.
Similarly, out of 160 sarpanch vacancies notified for by-election, only 83 went to polls on December 1. While there were no contestants at 19 other places, candidates for the remaining 58 seats got elected unopposed.
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