Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir will see the first phase of the urban local bodies polls, which will be held for the first time in 13 years. Security has been tightened for the elections in 422 of the state's 1,100 municipal wards. Around 149 seats in the Valley and 26 in the Ladakh, Jammu and Pirpanjal region will vote today. Voting began at 7 am and will end at 4 pm. The last elections to urban local bodies were held in 2005.
The first phase of voting has started in districts of Anantnag, Budgam, Bandipore, Baramulla, Jammu, Kargil, Kupwara, Leh, Poonch, Rajouri and Srinagar. 
Around 2,990 candidates are contesting the closely watched four-phased elections, which will end on October 16. Around 240 candidates have been elected unopposed, mostly in the Kashmir valley. 
The National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party, the two most important political parties in the state, have boycotted the elections citing “lack of clarity” around the Centre’s stand on legal challenges in the Supreme Court to Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
The BJP has said that it has got control over seven municipal committees in Kashmir Valley as 75 of its nominees have been elected unopposed.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made by the Centre for the election, pushing in 400 companies of paramilitary forces or 40,000 personnel in addition to massive security deployment Valley already has. Governor Satya Pal Malik had made a detailed review of the security situation on Saturday.
For preventive issues, separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was on Sunday placed under house arrest. On October 2, police took Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Yasin Malik into preventive custody. Hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani continues to be under house detention ahead of the four-phase polls.
Mobile services were suspended in South Kashmir ahead of the elections. Similarly, mobile internet speed had been reduced to 2G in other parts of the Valley, as per the agency. 
The second phase of the elections will be held on October 10, the third phase on October 13 and the last phase on October 16. Counting of votes will take place on October 20.
In January, militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen had warned former panchayat members against contesting the civic elections. Group’s operational commander Riyaz Naikoo had threatened to pour acid into the eyes of anyone who dared to contest the polls.