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BJP ministers meet EC, ask for streamlining voter registration of Pandits

A delegation led by two BJP ministers met the Election Commission on Thursday to demand a revision of the electoral list for the community spread across the country after their exodus from the Valley.

india Updated: May 12, 2017 13:54 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Election Commission,Kashmiri Pandits,Voters list
A delegation led by two Union ministers of the BJP met the election Commission on Thursday to demand a revision of the electoral list for Kashmiri Pandits spread across the country after their exodus from the Valley.(MINT )

Alleging that the number of Kashmiri Pandits on the electoral list of Jammu and Kashmir is shrinking on account “complicated procedure” that is “open to manipulation by vested interests”, a delegation led by BJP ministers met the Election Commission on Thursday and demanded a revision of the electoral list for the community.

Minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh and minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi led the delegation.

“There are many problems being faced by the community and we asked the EC to look into the issue so that their voting rights are secured. To being with there should be a separate and a permanent electoral list,” Naqvi told HT.

The delegation, which included members of the Jammu and Kashmir Vichar Manch, an organisation of displaced Kashmiri Pandits, informed the poll panel that the process of registration is cumbersome and acts as a deterrent for members to register as voters.

Pandits are required to fill an ‘M form’, which establishes them as migrants, and allows them to cast their vote for the assembly polls as well as for the Lok Sabha polls as registered voters of the state.

“The M-form (migrant form) is a procedure under which migrant Kashmiri Pandits have to repeatedly submit documents to prove that they were genuine displaced people from the Kashmir valley and intend to vote,” the delegation told the Commission.

Read more: J-K govt identifies 100 acres of land for resettling Kashmiri Pandits

The Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act, 1957, includes a special provision in Section 36-A, which allows voters to cast their ballot in polling stations outside the territorial limits of their constituency. After the exodus of Pandits from the Valley in the 1990s, the poll panel introduced the M form and made provisions for voting at special polling booths outside the state.

“As a result of this complicated process the number of displaced voters decreased constantly reaching a dismal number of few thousand from around 200,000 prior to displacement. The decrease was progressive with only 147,000 voters left on voter list in 1996 that went further down to 117,000 in 2002 and even more disappearing from the voter list, down to 71,000 in 2008,” the delegation said.

The delegation also demanded the deletion of M forms, issuing photo identity cards to migrant voters and increasing the number of voting booths for the community during elections.

First Published: May 11, 2017 19:47 IST