MUZAFFARABAD: First phase of local governments (LG) elections in AJK peacefully concluded in three district of Muzaffarabad division on Sunday for electing a total of 595 councilors of district and union councils, municipal corporations, municipal committees and town committees.
A total of 2716 candidates including 900 independent candidates were in the contest for 595 seats in Muzaffarabad, Neelum Valley and Hattian Bala district while in second phase, polling will be conducted in four districts of Poonch Division on December 3.
Polling in the first phase on Sunday continued from 8 am till 5 pm in the evening without any interval and long queues of voters were witnessed at polling stations showing much interest of people in elections.
According to election commission, a total of 695,049 voters including 320,747 female voter exercised their right to vote in the first phase of elections in three districts of Muzaffarabad division.
According to Deputy inspector General (DIG) police Muzaffarabad, Irfan Masood Kashfi, 4500 police personnel were deployed at polling stations while quick response force was in placed at every sector headed by DSP rank officers to reach in 15 minutes even any dispute occurs within their jurisdiction.
The army was also put on standby to control during the polling to control untoward situation but process was peacefully concluded and no incident was reported from anywhere till the closer of polling, the officer added.
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (retd) Abdul Rasheed Sulehria along with senior member of the commission Raja Farooq Niaz also visited different polling stations in Muzaffarabad city and expressed satisfaction over the polling process.
The CEC said they had received no major complaint of any irregularity in the polling process or any attempt of rigging from anywhere and overall polling process was transparent and peaceful.
He said people had took keen interest in the polling and turnover was expected very high even more than 70 percent keeping in the view the rush witnessed at polling stations.
He said district administrations, police, returning officers and polling staff had played important role for conducting peaceful, free, fair and transparent elections and their performance was appreciable.
He expressed the optimism that the first phase of polling was a precedent for the coming phases and polling second and third phase would also be conducted peacefully in same manner.
Commissioner Muzaffarabad Division Masood ur Rehman told APP that 7785 polling staff had been posted on 1323 polling stations in all the three districts and polling material had been transported safely at the offices of returning and assistant returning officers and foolproof arrangements were made to transport belt bags back to returning officers’ offices from polling stations after the polling.
He said the presiding officers had been empowered with magisterial powers to peacefully conduct the polling and implement the code of conduct issued by election commission under election laws and criminal procedure code
(Cr.PC) and authorized for a summary trail.