The first phase of the Jammu and Kashmir state local elections was held on Monday, October 8, with no security incidents reported. Initial reports indicate that turnout levels were below ten percent. The next phases are scheduled to take place on October 10, October 13, and October 16. On those days, voters will head to the polls in different wards to elect local representatives. Votes will be counted on October 20. Political demonstrations, and associated transportation disruptions, are likely during the electoral period and means of telecommunication may be cut by the government. A heightened security presence is also to be anticipated, along with possible attacks by militant groups targeting election-related events.
The two main parties in the region, the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (JKNC) and the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party (JKPDP), have announced they will boycott the election in protest against Article 35A, which would allow Indians outside of Kashmir to own property and work in the state's government.
Article 35A gives the state legislature - Jammu and Kashmir parliament - the power to define permanent residents of the state and grant associated rights and privileges. Jammu and Kashmir is the only Muslim-majority state in Hindu-majority India. After independence from colonial rule (August 1947), India and Pakistan fought a war over control of the region and a local insurgency has been ongoing in the Indian Kashmir Valley since the late 1980s. On October 5, militants killed at least two members of the JKNC in the city of Srinagar.
Individuals in Jammu and Kashmir are advised to closely monitor the situation and avoid all protests and other election-related events due to the possibility of violence. As a reminder, some Western governments advise their citizens against travel to parts of Kashmir, notably areas along the Line of Control (LoC), due to the significant risk of violence.
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