The voting for the fifth phase out of the nine-phased panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir is currently underway.
The polling for the fifth phase will be held at 2,512 polling stations, including 1,743 stations in Jammu division and 769 in Kashmir division, from 8 am to 2 pm, said State Chief Electoral Officer Shaleen Kabra.
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He added that 848 polling stations have been categorised as 'hypersensitive', including 755 in Kashmir division and 93 in Jammu division.
He said 4,763 candidates are in the fray for 309 sarpanch and 1,534 panch seats in the fifth phase, while 118 sarpanchs and 1,046 panchs have been elected unopposed.
In the areas going to polls on Thursday, an electorate of 4,04,283 will be voting for sarpanch constituencies and 2,70,295 for panch constituencies, Kabra said.
The chief electoral officer (CEO) said photo voter slips have been distributed among the voters to inform them of their polling stations.
In the first phase of the panchayat polls held on November 17, an estimated 74.1 per cent polling was recorded across the state, including 64.5 per cent in Kashmir division and 79.4 per cent in Jammu division.
In the second phase held on November 20, overall
71.1 per cent polling was witnessed across the state with an overwhelming 80.4 per cent polling in Jammu division and 52.2 per cent in Kashmir division.
In the third phase, the state witnessed a polling percentage of 75.2 per cent which included 55.7 per cent in Kashmir division and 83.0 per cent in Jammu division.
In the fourth phase, the state witnessed a polling percentage of 71.3 per cent, including 82.4 per cent polling in Jammu division and 32.3 per cent in Kashmir division.
The results of all the phases have been announced by the respective returning officers, Kabra said.
He said basic minimum facilities (BMF) have been ensured in all the polling stations across the state.
Senior government officers have been appointed as general observers to oversee the smooth, fair and orderly conduct of the panchayat elections.
Also, 'expenditure observers' are keeping a watch on the expenditure by the candidates, the CEO said.
In addition, for the poll day, 'micro observers' have been placed in polling stations, particularly those considered hypersensitive. Besides, the zonal and sector magistrates too have been deployed, he said.
Kabra said control rooms have been established in all the districts across the state to respond promptly to any complaints of violation of the model code of conduct as also to disseminate information to the public.
Security arrangements have been made including the deployment of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), he said.
The CEO said the government has declared holiday on the day of poll in the panchayat areas, adding special casual leaves shall also be granted to employees who have to go to other areas to exercise their right to franchise.
The voting comes amid tight security in the view of recent terror attacks in the state. At least four terrorists have been killed in the past two days in encounters in Pulwama and Budgam.