Not a single candidate is contesting polls in nearly 29 percent wards of the urban local bodies in Kashmir.
Official data available with Kashmir Post reveals that as many as 178 wards are without any candidate in the municipal bodies of Kashmir Valley. The number of wards in the Valley’s 40 urban bodies is around 598.
According to data, the maximum number of such wards is in south Kashmir, which was the epicentre of the 2016 unrest triggered by the killing of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
The region has witnessed spurt in militancy and civilian protests over the past two years, which had forced the Election Commission of India to cancel the by-poll for it in 2017.
Of 126 such wards in South Kashmir, three are in Achabal municipal committee, one in Kokernag, three in Qazigund, three in Yaripora, 13 in Frisal, seven in Kulgam, 12 in Bijbhera, nine in Tral, 12 in Awantipora , six in Pahalgam, five in Ashmuqam, 12 in Seer Hamdan, 12 in Pampore, 13 in Khrew, 10 in Pulwama and five in Shopian.
The south Kashmir is home to 50 percent municipal bodies of Kashmir.
This is followed by Central Kashmir’s Budgam which witnessed a decent voter turnout in the previous elections except the last year’s by-election when the district witnessed massive violence that consumed seven lives.
As many as 12 wards are without any candidate in Beerwah municipality, two in Charar-i-Sharif, six in Magam, five in Chadoora and three in Budgam main town.
According to the data, no candidate is in fray in 24 wards in north Kashmir districts of Baramulla, Bandipora and Kupwara.
As many as 13 such wards are in Sopore town which is considered as stronghold of separatists and has sided with boycott post-1987.
This is followed by Watergam (four wards), Hajin (three wards), Kunzer (two wards) and Langate (two wards).
The municipal polls are being held even as Kashmir’s mainstream parties National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party have decided against participating in them.