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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Rejection button on EVMs no option for polls: separatists

Peerzada Ashiq , Hindustan Times  Srinagar, October 21, 2013
First Published: 18:27 IST(21/10/2013) | Last Updated: 18:31 IST(21/10/2013)

Introduced first time in the country after a Supreme Court ruling, the none-of-the-above option in electronic voting machines (EVMs) is no option for Kashmir separatists, hell-bent to push for a major boycott campaign against upcoming parliamentary and assembly polls.
 
The none-of-the-above button, being incorporated in EVMs after the SC's landmark judgment on September 27 this year as a part of electoral reforms, had some quarters in separatists mulling to use it in case of any coercion or as means of protest. 
 
There were allegations of large-scale coercion on voters by armed forces in 1996 but no such allegation came to surface in the 2008 assembly polls, where peoples' participation was around 60 per cent.
 
Separatists, after mulling over the rejection button option, have decided to ask people to resist in case of coercion and not to push even the rejection button, fearing "it may lend legitimacy to the electoral process".
 
"These polls have no sanctity. We are asking people to completely boycott the polls. People should desist from approaching even the polling booths. The rejection button is no option. People should resist in case security agencies force them to vote," hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani told the Hindustan Times.
 
Taking pot shots at those who participate and contest polls, Geelani (83) described mainstream politics as "immoral, deceitful and ideology-less".
 
"The politics being practiced by so-called mainstream political parties is of corruption, luring to the ministerial berths and postings of kith and kin," said the aging separatist leader.
 
Claiming a majority of youth support "the struggle", Geelani asked the new generation to desist from joining electoral process.
 
"It is a sham. There are some who for the sake of career or being ambitious joins electoral politics but they should weigh option rationally and not through material gains only," he added.
 
Kashmir is witnessing heightened political activities ahead of the polls. Several youth leaders, retired bureaucrats, known businessmen and employees' leaders are joining mainstream parties to the chagrin of the separatists.
 
Moderate Hurriyat has also taken a hard stand on pressing the none-of-the-above button.

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"These elections are non-issue to us. The mainstream politicians are nothing but a political face of a military exercise, which was proved by ex-army chief VK Singh. We ask voters to avoid voting and the new rejection button means nothing to us," said Nayeem Khan of the National Front, an important constituent of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq led Hurriyat.
 
Besides Geelani, JKLF chairman Yasin Malik is also planning to launch a major boycott campaign against the parliamentary and assembly polls in 2014.
 
Meanwhile, the jittery government is being approached by the election department for a final consent for incorporating the rejection button for the local assembly polls scheduled earlier next year.
 
The button would enable voters to exercise their right to not vote for any candidate and maintain secrecy at the same time.
 
The final decision to incorporate the rejection button will be implemented only after a cabinet nod. If approved, the size of the button will be as big as that of candidates' symbols.


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