STATE TIMES NEWS New Delhi: The elections to the nearly 13,000 vacant posts of Panchs and Sarpanchs in Gram Panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir is likely to be held next month and a notification is this regard is expected to be issued on January 25, officials said on Friday. If the polls take place, it will be the first elections in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state into union territories in August last year. The elections to about 13,000 vacant posts of Panchs and Sarpanchs in Gram Panchayats is likely to be held next month and a notification is expected to be issued on January 25, a Home Ministry official said. The entire election process is expected to be over by February end. The posts were lying vacant since November last year when the elections to the local bodies were held. Out of Kashmir’s 20,093 Panch and Sarpanch seats, more than 12,500 seats have remained vacant since then. The announcement to the polls is likely to come amidst the visit of 36 union ministers to Jammu and Kashmir beginning Saturday. The 2018 polls to the local bodies had witnessed poor participation with two major regional political parties — the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — boycotting it. “These seats could not be filled in 2018; the by-elections could be fought on party lines also. Security is an issue that will be discussed,” said a senior government official. Several Sarpanchs elected from south Kashmir are still living in hotels and government accommodation in Srinagar in the wake of threat to their lives. On October 24 last, elections for 310 blocks were held, out of which 27 candidates were elected unopposed. The elections of BDC chairpersons, held on party lines, were indirect and they were elected by Panchs and Sarpanchs of a Panchayat falling within a particular block.
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