Jammu & Kashmir Panchayat polls deferred after all party meet

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Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday chaired an all-party meet on Panchayat polls in the state. The meeting, attended by senior leaders of the opposition and ruling parties, was held at Jammu.

Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir scheduled to be held from 15th of this month are unlikely to be conducted due to adverse security situation in most parts of Kashmir, the state government decided on Sunday after an all-party meeting. The decision, however, put the ruling Peoples Democratic Party or PDP at odds with its alliance partner BJP – the only major party in the state that wanted the polls to be held as scheduled.

Sources told that the state government had decided to defer the polls for an unspecified period after Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti received feedback on ground situation in the valley.

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“I represented the PDP in the meeting and my view was that a fresh assessment is required and elections should be held at appropriate time. Not now,” said Rafi Ahmad Mir, the Chief Spokesman of PDP.

Sources say the central government was very keen to hold elections and had kept 400 more companies or about 40,000 personnel of paramilitary forces for these polls. But given the ground situation, the PDP leadership has told Chief Minister that it’s not possible for them to go for polls. The recent civilian killings have further exacerbated the situation.

The main opposition party National Conference also agrees that security situation is just not conducive. “We don’t think the situation is conducive for holding these elections,” said Ali Mohammad Sagar, General Secretary National Conference.

Last year, the Anantnag parliament by-elections were cancelled after large scale violence and an embarrassing five per cent voter turnout in Srinagar Parliamentary by polls.