The elections to the nearly 13,000 vacant posts of panch and sarpanch in gram panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir will be held from March 5, the Election Commission has announced on Thursday.
The polls, to be held in eight phases from March 5 to 20, will be the first in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state into union territories in August last year.
The announcement of the election comes even as all top opposition leaders and three former chief ministers -Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti – remain in detention.
The posts were lying vacant since November 2918 when the elections to the local bodies were held. Out of Kashmir’s 20,093 panch and sarpanch seats, more than 12,500 seats have remained vacant since then. Most of the seats that will go to polls are in the Valley.
The announcement has been made after the visit of 36 union ministers to Jammu and Kashmir at the end of January. The 2018 polls to the local bodies had witnessed poor participation with two major regional political parties — the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — boycotting it.