Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer Shaleen Kabra on Saturday announced the dates of elections to the urban local bodies in the State despite a boycott threat by the regional parties. The National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party described the decision as “unfortunate”.“The municipal polls will be conducted in four phases on October 8, 10, 13, 16,” Mr. Kabra said.There urban local bodies have remained without members due to repeated deferment of [elections], owing to growing militancy and rising civilian casualties in the past few years. These polls will be followed by the panchayat polls that will begin in November,” he said.“The elections to two municipal corporations, three municipal councils and 72 municipal committees in the State shall be held from October 8 to 16. The last elections to the municipal bodies were held in 2005 and their five-year term expired in 2010.”He said the EVMs would be used for the elections. “Of 1,145 wards, 90 wards have been reserved for the Scheduled Castes and 38 wards have been reserved for the Scheduled Tribes, which includes 31 and 13 wards reserved for SC and ST women. Around 322 wards have been reserved for women belonging to the open category,” he said.Kashmiri migrants will be allowed to vote through postal ballot. Around 17 lakh voters will particiapte in these polls.Protests continueThe decision to hold these polls comes despite the NC and the PDP announcing to stay away from the urban local bodies and panchayat polls in J&K, asking the Centre to clear its stand on Article 35A, which defines State Subject laws, before the Supreme Court.PDP spokesman Rafi Mir told The Hindu: “It’s an unfortunate decision. We were expecting that Governor Satya Pal Malik will hold an all-party meeting. It seems the decision was taken without taking public or political parties’ opinion on board. We stand by our decision to stay away from these polls.”NC general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar said these polls would have no credibility. “Unfortunately, no one was taken into confidence while announcing these polls. Such polls will serve no purpose and will only damage the idea of democracy. Any election is held to allow parties and people to participate. We saw three militants being killed in Jammu on Friday and five people, including a civilian, being killed on Saturday. In such an atmosphere, what message is the Centre giving by holding these elections,” Mr. Sagar asked.