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J&K panchayat bypolls put off

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar. Photo:ceojammukashmir.nic.in

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar. Photo:ceojammukashmir.nic.in  

The by-elections were to be held from March 5 to 20 in eight phases, based on party lines.

The by-elections to over 12,000 panchayat seats in Jammu and Kashmir have been deferred for three weeks following “credible inputs from the law enforcement agencies”.

The by-elections were to be held from March 5 to 20 in eight phases, based on party lines.

U.S. President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit India for two days next week.

The model code of conduct had come into force with the announcement of the by-elections last week.

The panchayat elections were held in the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir in 2018, and a total of 27,281 panches and sarpanches were elected. There are 12,776 vacant seats for sarpanches and panches.

The elections were then boycotted by the Peoples Democratic Party and the National Conference.

Also read | Ready for panchayat bypolls but release leaders: NC writes to ECI

On February 18, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar held a meeting with all political parties amid criticism that political leaders remained in detention.

Mr. Kumar issued a notification later in the day. It said the Home Department, Government of Jammu and Kashmir, has “advised the Election Authority to consider deferring of the conduct of polls based on credible inputs from the law enforcement agencies”.

Peerzada Ashiq reports from Srinagar

Referring to the Home department's warning, the CEO's office issued a notice cancelling the previous poll notifications, issued since February 13.

“In exercise of powers under Section 36 of Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, read with Rule 8 and Rule 40 of the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Rules, 1996, the Notifications dated 15-02-2020 and 17-02-2020 issued for Phase-I and Phase-II respectively, and the schedule issued on 13th February, 2020' for other phases of the Panchayat Bi-Elections 2020 are hereby withdrawn,” the order reads.

Earlier in the day, the representatives of several political parties met Mr. Kumar in Jammu and questioned the timing of the polls, while demanding the release of all political detainees.

The meeting was attended by NC, PDP, Congress, BJP and National Panthers Party (NPP).

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Monga said, "The polls should be conducted on non-party basis and the leadership, which is under detention, should be released to ensure the participation of these political parties and mandatory direction."

NC also called for early release of its president Dr. Farooq Abdullah, vice-president Omar Abdullah and general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar, all booked under the Public Safety Act.

The Congress also demanded the lifting of curbs in J&K for "any candidate to get a peaceful and free atmosphere".

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 11:19:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/jk-panchayat-byelections-put-off/article30854712.ece

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