Voting was underway on Saturday for the eighth phase of the panchayat polls across Jammu and Kashmir amid tight security.

Voting is being held at 2,633 polling stations — 550 in Kashmir and 2,083 in Jammu.

Polling started at 8 a.m. and will end at 2 p.m.

According to the Chief Electoral Officer, J&K, Shaleen Kabra, 361 polling stations have been categorised as ‘hypersensitive’ in this phase. Of these, 171 are in the Kashmir division and 190 in the Jammu division.

A total of 6304 candidates are in the fray for 331 sarpanch and 2,007 panch seats in this phase while 43 sarpanchs and 681 panchs have been elected unopposed.

The CEO said at the end of seven phases of the panchayat polls, the state recorded an overall voter turnout of 73.8 per cent, with 44.4 per cent in the Kashmir division and 83.2 per cent in the Jammu division.

He said the government has declared holiday on the day of polls in the panchayat areas to enable the voters to cast their vote.

He said special casual leave shall also be granted to the employees who have to go to other areas to exercise their right to franchise.

As per the standing guidelines, the central government offices shall not be closed but the employees who are voters of the wards going to polls Saturday can shall be offered reasonable facility to exercise their franchise, he added.

By the end of the seventh phase that took place on December 4, an overall voter turnout of 73.8 per cent had been recorded across the state, with a poll percentage of 44.4 per cent in the Kashmir and 83.2 per cent in the Jammu.

The last election of the nine-phased polls will be held on December 11.

Panchayat polls were last held in Jammu and Kashmir in 2011.

(With agency inputs)