The J&K government on Tuesday offered hotel accommodation as part of security arrangements to candidates contesting the urban local bodies elections in the State from October 8. “Additional 400 companies of armed forces will be deployed for polling duty across Kashmir keeping in view law and order situation. Around 300 hotel rooms have been booked in Srinagar for candidates and similar arrangements are made in south and north Kashmir. Adequate security will be given to candidates,” Chief Secretary B.V.R. Subrahmanyam said.The government has also decided to provide a month’s extra salary to employees opting for election duty.The elections are being held to 79 urban local bodies with 1,200 wards — 600 each in the Kashmir and Jammu regions. There are 4,490 panchayats in the State, headed by sarpanches. Posts of 35,000 panchs will be filled through the elections. Funds for civic bodiesMr. Subrahmanyam said ₹4,335 crore will be devolved to the ULBs for development activities. “There is no link between the timing of panchayat elections and the hearing of the PIL petition challenging Article 35-A before the court. It is just accidental that the case is listed in January and the panchayat elections are to be completed before that,” Mr. Subrahmanyam said.The All J&K Panchayat Conference chief Shafiq Mir expressed unhappiness over the measures taken by the govt. “Both urban local bodies and panchayats are community institutions and have no link with the larger political issue of J&K. It should not be politicised. The security to candidates should come from the community. Instead of hotel rooms, the government should work on providing conducive atmosphere for elections,” he said.Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) suspended the party leader, Hameed Manhas, for filing his nomination for the election. “Manhas tried to defy the unanimous decision to stay away from the polls,” said party spokesman Rafiq Mir.