SRINAGAR: As many as 23 candidates seeking the mandate in the first three phases of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections have criminal and serious cases registered against them.

About 443 candidates will be contesting in the first three phases of Assembly elections in the state of J&K. In the first phase elections for 15 seats, 123 candidates were in the fray, in the second phase while 175 were in the fray for 18 seats and in the third phase 145 candidates will be contesting for 16 seats.

According to election watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), 23 candidates contesting in the first three phases have criminal records and criminal cases registered against them.

At least eight independent candidates have criminal cases registered against them. The maximum number of criminal cases have been registered against independent candidate Aijaz Ahmad Sofi contesting from Handwara seat that went to the polls in the second phase on December 2.

Three candidates from the ruling National Conference (NC), facing criminal cases are contesting the elections.

NC candidate from Langate seat Wali Mohammad Bhat has two criminal cases while  Manzoor Ahmad Wani and Mohammad Ashraf Bhat  have one criminal case each registered against them.

According to the ADR, the Congress has also fielded three candidates with criminal cases. A criminal case has been registered against party candidate from Bandipora Usman Majid. 

Criminal cases have also been registered against Congress candidate from the Kulgam seat Peer Nazim-ud-Din and party candidate from Chrar-e-Sharif seat Zahid Hussain.

The BJP has fielded two candidates with a criminal background. “BJP  candidate from Mendhar constituency Zulfikhar Hussain Khan has two criminal cases registered against him, while party nominee from the Chrar-e-Sharif seat Ghulam Mohammad Chopan has one case against him,” the ADR said.

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