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8-phase Panchayatbypolls in J-K to begin from March 5

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Jammu, Feb 13:  By-election to over 12,500 Panchayat seats in Jammu and Kashmir would be held in eight phases from March 05, the Union Territory's Chief Electoral Officer Shailender Kumar said on Thursday.

Polling would be held from March 05 to March 20 and ballots would be used for casting votes, he said.

The Model Code of Conduct has come into force with immediate effect with the announcement of the bypoll schedule.

After taking into consideration all relevant factors and inputs from various stakeholders, the Jammu and Kashmir election authority has prepared the schedule for the bypolls to Panchayathalqas and panch wards. Issuance of the first notification would be on February 15, Kumar said.

The first phase of the bypolls will be held on March 05, followed by second on March 07, third on March 09, fourth on March 12, fifth on March 14, sixth on March 16, seventh on March 18 and last on March 20, he said.

The chief electoral officer said, "Ballot boxes would be used during these elections. Sufficient number of ballot boxes have been made available for the purpose."

The process for filling 11,639 panch seats and 1,011 sarpanch seats will completed by March 26, he said.

The Panchayat election was held in November-December 2018, and 22,214 panches and 3,459 sarpanches were elected out of 33,592 panch and 4,290 sarpanch constituencies.

Further vacancies have accrued on various accounts such as deaths and resignations. Also as a result of polls to block development committee (BDCs) chairpersons in October, 2019, another 307 seats of panch and sarpanch fell vacant, Kumar said.

He said that the candidates elected during these by-elections shall hold office for the remainder of the period of five years commencing from the date of constitution of HalqaPanchayat.

The Panchayatbypolls would be videographed and district panchayat election officers (deputy commissioners) will arrange sufficient numbers of video and digital cameras and teams for the purpose, the chief electoral officer said.

In order to enable Kashmiri migrant voters to exercise their franchise through postal ballots, 'Migrant Postal Ballot' scheme was notified for the 2018 Panchayat elections, he added.

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