Srinagar: In a verbal order that is against election rules and contrary to democratic norms, Deputy Commissioners in Kashmir division, who are the returning officers for the upcoming local elections, have been asked not to share any details of the contesting candidates with the media.
A senior official in the state administration told Kashmir Reader that the DCs have been asked not to tell the media the identity of the candidates nor how many of them are contesting in a constituency.
There is no official order to this effect, and the communication has been sent verbally to all the DCs or ROs, the official said.
“It is important for us to ensure safety and security of the candidates,” the official said, conceding that not revealing the statistics was breach of rules.
The number of candidates contesting the elections, as such, remains uncertain in Kashmir.
Officials at the Information Department told Kashmir Reader that they have been releasing all the data that they have received over the last few days from the Chief Electoral Office. “We have not withheld any data,” an official said.
A senior administrative official told Kashmir Reader that approximately 50 candidates have filed nomination papers in 49 wards in south Kashmir.
He said that in the 13 municipal wards in Kulgam, 6 candidates have filed papers. In the 8 wards in Devsar, 9 candidates have filed papers.
Six candidates have filed papers in the 7 wards in Qazigund. In Achabal, 9 candidates have filed papers in 8 wards. Only in Kokernag, the number of candidates is not almost equal or less than the number of wards. It stands at 20 candidates in 13 wards.
In north Kashmir, the official revealed that in three districts of Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora, 160 candidates have filed nominations in the total 64 wards for the first phase of the elections.
In the twin districts of central Kashmir, Budgam and Srinagar, 94 candidates have filed nomination papers. In Srinagar, 11 candidates have filed papers in 3 wards, while in Budgam 83 candidates have filed papers in 13 wards.
Chief Electoral Officer Jammu and Kashmir Shaleen Kabra did not respond to calls from Kashmir Reader.