Outsiders to have voting rights, says J&K electoral officer; opposition cries foul
The CEO Hirdesh Kumar said that those citizens who are in Jammu and Kashmir either for a job, education or even business would have the voting rights in the upcoming assembly election
The worries of Kashmiris about a ‘possible demography change’ in Jammu and Kashmir seem to have come true after the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Hirdesh Kumar said that every citizen of the country ‘staying ordinarily’ in Jammu and Kashmir can register as a voter in J&K and cast his or her vote in the upcoming assembly elections.
Explaining the newly coined term ‘staying ordinarily’ in J&K, the CEO Hirdesh Kumar said that those citizens who are in Jammu and Kashmir either for a job, education or even business would have the voting rights in the upcoming assembly election.
“We expect an increase of over 20 lakh voters after the completion of the special summary revision of the electoral rolls whose final announcement will be made on 25, November 2022,” the CEO said while addressing a press conference at Nirvachan Bhawan in Jammu division of Jammu and Kashmir.
The statement has drawn flak in Jammu and Kashmir and the regional parties have called for an all-party-meet to discuss the future strategy. The biggest regional party, the National Conference said that BJP is insecure and wants to import outside voters to win elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Is the BJP so insecure about support from genuine voters of J&K that it needs to import temporary voters to win seats? None of these things will help the BJP when the people of J&K are given a chance to exercise their franchise,” Omar Abdullah said.
As per the new voting regulations, a local residence certificate is not required for inclusion in the voter list. The security forces personnel deployed in Jammu and Kashmir can also vote by including their names in the voters' list.
“A special amendment is being made in the voter list for the first time. In this case, it is expected that this time there will be a large-scale change. Not only that, a large number of young people have become 18 years or older in three years,” the CEO said.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Mehbooba Mufti has said that she is trying to get the opposition parties on one platform to counter the BJP’s tactics of 'stealing' election in Jammu and Kashmir.
“I have contacted Dr Farooq Abdullah to convene an All Party Meeting to decide the future course of action on the issue of giving voting rights to non JK residents stating that it has now gone beyond elections,” PDP Chief said during a press conference at her Fairview Residence in Gupkar, Srinagar.
“We have been witnessing how the elections are being rigged everywhere in the country, even before and after the elections as well. The BJP is not going to change the country into Hindu Rashtra, but in BJP Rashtra,” she said.
She said that giving voting rights to the non-locals is aimed at conducting fraud elections to allow the BJP fascist locals to rule here.
The assembly elections are likely to be held later this year, and with the announcement of voting rights for outsiders, about 25 lakh new voters are expected to be included in the voter list this time.
“The situation is not different for Muslims only, but for every community including Dogra, Pandit as well,” Mehbooba Mufti said.
She said that the BJP despite beating the drums for Kashmiri Pandits, failed to ensure ease to them in casting the ballots and as the result of which they have now stopped voting.
She said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), like the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, will do away with the Constitution of India and replace the tricolor with ‘Bhaghwa Flag’.
The Kashmiri civil society said that giving voting rights to outsiders is part of a ‘larger conspiracy’.
“Giving voting rights to the outsiders is only the part of the greater conspiracy against the people of Jammu and Kashmir, especially to dilute the Muslim character of this region. These same people tried it in 1947 by massacring the Muslims in Jammu and now they are doing it again but in a different manner after 70 years. The game is the same only characters and players have changed,” Prof. Sheikh Showkat said.
Meanwhile, the People's Conference Chairman and former minister Sajad Gani Lone said that allowing non-locals to vote in assembly elections will be disastrous.
“This is dangerous. I don’t know what they want to achieve. This is much more than mischief. Democracy is a relic, especially in the context of Kashmir. Please remember 1987. We are yet to come out of that,” he said.
Published: 18 Aug 2022, 3:00 PM