SRINAGAR: Despite killing of nearly 200 insurgents in 2017, which is seen as an achievement for restoring the ‘lost peace’ in the Kashmir Valley, there is no likelihood of conducting elections in Anantnag parliamentary constituency overdue panchayat and local urban bodies.
An official in the electoral office, on the condition of anonymity, told Kashmir Reader that there was no communication from Election Commission of India (ECI) for holding by-polls in Anantnag and from JK government about holding panchayat elections.
The government of India and the state government see holding of elections in the strife-torn valley as a sign of normalcy. The result of 2008 elections, which came after a mass uprising, and 2014 elections in which there was a huge voter turnout, was projected as people’s acceptance of Indian state over the resistance sentiment.
However, the state has been unable to hold the Anantnag parliamentary by-polls, for the seat that was left vacant after Mehbooba Mufti resigned on April 4 to take over as the chief minister of the state. The by-poll was scheduled to be held in April this year but was cancelled due to the mass killing of civilians during the by-polls elections of Srinagar constituency.
The fate of panchayat elections has been the same. Since June 2016, the state has been unable to hold it, first due to the raging uprising and then due to the spurt in mass killings of civilians on the Srinagar poling day in which eight civilians lost their lives.
“The last communication we have received from ECI was in May about the deferment of polls and non-availability of huge contingent of personnel the state had demanded for conduct of holding the same,” the official said. “There are just few months left during which it has to be conducted. Otherwise, the constituency will remain vacant until the parliamentary elections of 2019.”
“Regarding Panchayat polls, a home work of registration of voters and reservation of wards has been done. The state government just needs to announce the dates and we will be set in motion,” he said.
The official said that an ordinance to designate the CEO Kashmir as CEO panchayat electionshas been issued two weeks ago. The state has to bring the ordinance second time as it failed to make it a law in the previous assembly elections due to pandemonium. The Panchayat elections were last held in March-April 2011 after a gap of ten years. The Panchayats were constituted in May-June 2011 and they completed their term in June 2016. However, the Government didn’t initiate the process to hold elections to Panchayats in time, which led to completion of their tenure. Nearly one and a half years have already elapsed without any elected Panchayats in the State. The Urban Local Bodies elections have also been pending for more than seven years now.
The ULB elections were last held in January-February 2005 and the elected Municipalities had completed their five-year term in March 2010. However, since then, neither the previous National Conference-Congress nor the present PDP-BJP Government made any efforts to hold Municipal elections in the State.