Srinagar: After a gap of almost 13 years, the Municipal elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be conducted in nine phases from November 17 to December 11. The polls will elect 4,130 sarpanch, 29,719 panch and 1,145 ward commissioners.

Chief Electoral Officer Shaleen Kabra said, “The notification for the first phase, which is to be held on November 17 will be issued on October 23 whereas, for the second phase, it will be on October 26; for the third phase, notification will be issued on October 29.” Kabra also confirmed that votes will be via ballot paper and the dates will be November 17, 20, 24, 27, 29 and December 1, 4,8 and 11. 

Notifications for the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth phases will be issued on November 1, 3, 6, 9, 12 and 14 respectively after which polls will be conducted, if necessary.

The two local political parties in the State – Farooq Abdullah’s NC and Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP had already decided to boycott Panchayat and Municipal elections blaming Centre for not clearing their stand on Article 35A. Separatists in Kashmir along with many terror outfits have also threatened people to boycott the upcoming Urban Local Bodies’ polls.

Municipal polls in the valley are being conducted after a gap of almost 13 years. The last time was in 2005 while the previous Panchayat polls were conducted in 2011.

Centre was keen to conduct elections in 2016 too but faced roadblocks caused by the death of former Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed, subsequent delay in government formation and the Burhan Wani incident. The previous plans to conduct elections in March-April, 2018 were also thwarted by Mehbooba Mufti's PDP.