Jammu and Kashmir Election Commission on Thursday evening decided to deferred by-Polls of Panchayat in the newly carved Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The Polls were scheduled to be held in 8 phases starting from March 5, 2020.
In a midnight order, Election Commission said, "Whereas, recommendations of the Apex Level Committee constituted vide Government Order No. 10-JK(GAD) of 2020 dated 03-01-2020 regarding preparatory work for conducting elections to vacant Panchayat seats along with the security clearance was received from the General Administration Department.UT of J&K vide its No.GAD(Adm)01/2020-I dated 23-01-2020: and Whereas, under Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Rules,1996, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir, vide S.O.53 dated 10th February 2020, issued a notification calling upon the Panchayat Halqas, to elect Sarpanches and Panches for the vacant seats in the UT; and"
"Whereas, the Election Authority accordingly has announced the schedule of the by-elections to the vacant seats of Sarpanches and Panches in the Panchayat Halqas as mentioned in the S.O.53 dated 10-02-2020 read along with errata dated13-02-2020; and
"Whereas, in exercise of the powers conferred under section 36 of Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act,1989, read with Rule 8 and Rule 40 of the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Rules,1996, the Election Authority, J&K(Chief Electoral Officer, J&K has issued notifications appointing various dates for the conduct of Phase-I and Phase-II of the by-elections vide its notifications dated 15-02-2020 and17-02-2020: and"
"Whereas, Home Department Government of Jammu and Kashmir vide its letter No: Home/ISA/237/2019 dated 18-02-2020 has advised the Election Authority to consider deferring of the conduct of polls based on credible inputs from the
law enforcement agencies;"
"Now, therefore, in exercise of powers under section 36 of Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act 1989, read with Rule 8 and Rule 40 of the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Rules,1996, the Notifications dated 15-02-2020 and 17-02-2020 issued for Phase I and Phase II respectively, and the schedule issued on 13" February 2020 for other phases of the Panchayat Bi-Elections 2020 are hereby withdrawn. After addressing all the concerns suitably at the earliest, possibly in two to three weeks,fresh schedule shall be notified."
Sources in Jammu and Kashmir Police told Republic that since the by-elections of Panchayat were announced, security agencies made several intercepts between Kashmiri terrorists and their handlers in Pakistan. The terrorists were tasked to carry out standalone attacks on the candidates so as to spread terror in the valley.
Because of the crackdown by security forces in the Kashmir valley, the terrorists have not been able to carry out any major attack in the valley and hence to show their presence, they could have targeted the panches and sarpanches candidates. The decision to postpone the panchayat elections was taken after several security review meetings and it was decided that new notification would be issued in due course of time. The Government is committed to ensuring that free and fair elections are held, hence the decision was taken.