As the Jammu and Kashmir government announced dates for panchayat elections in the State, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday hoped that “people will chose ballots over bullets again”.“I’m very pleased to announce that the long-overdue panchayat elections in J&K will be held from February 15, 2018. People of the State have always chosen ballots over bullets and will continue to do so,” she said.The State has not held the local body polls in the past two years due to uncertain situations. According to an official, the elections will be held on a non-party basis as in 2011.The Congress welcomed the news.“Any announcement to strengthen the democracy at the grassroots is a welcome measure.The party is ready to jump into the fray with full confidence,” said State Congress chief G.A. Mir.“Earlier, due to the worsening security scenario the parliament by-polls couldn’t be held in Anantnag. How come the government would be able to hold the panchayat polls?” asked Mir.