Jammu and Kashmir parties to oppose non-local voters in list

Updated on Sep 11, 2022 04:32 AM IST

“All political parties have unanimously decided that they won’t tolerate voting rights to non-locals in Jammu and Kashmir,” Abdullah said at a media briefing at his Bathindi residence in Jammu after the all-party meeting. “We are not going to accept this. Locals have the right and not the outsiders.”

Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir will oppose the inclusion of around 2.5 million non-locals in the voting list. (ANI)
Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir will oppose the inclusion of around 2.5 million non-locals in the voting list. (ANI)

Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir will oppose the inclusion of around 2.5 million non-locals in the voting list, former chief minister and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah said on Saturday, commenting on the contentious move by the Union Territory governed by the central government after an all-party meet.

“All political parties have unanimously decided that they won’t tolerate voting rights to non-locals in Jammu and Kashmir,” Abdullah said at a media briefing at his Bathindi residence in Jammu after the all-party meeting. “We are not going to accept this. Locals have the right and not the outsiders.”

“All the political parties attended the meeting today and discussed how to overcome all the difficulties, and biggest of them all today is voting rights to the non-locals, which is not acceptable to us,” the veteran leader said.

Hirdesh Kumar Singh, chief electoral officer of Jammu and Kashmir, had on August 17announced at a press conference that October 1, 2022 will be considered as the cut-off date for anyone who is 18 or above and is ordinarily residing in Jammu and Kashmir for getting registered as a voter. This would mean a large number of non-locals will get voting rights in the Union Territory.

The political parties will form a committee to explore possibilities to take this fight to its logical conclusion, said Muzaffar Shah, leader of the Awami National Conference. Saturday’s meeting was also attended by Peoples Democratic Party chief and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, J&K Congress president Vikar Rasool Wani, and Congress working president and former minister Raman Bhalla.

“We are united on one issue pertaining to the proposed addition of 2.5 million non local voters. We will not allow them to cast their votes here,” said Choudhary Lal Singh, former BJP minister and founder of Dogra Swabhimaan Sangthan. “There is no second opinion about it.”

Jammu-based parties have their differences with parties based in Kashmir, but the issue of proposed voting rights to non-locals have brought them on a united platform, Singh said.

The rights of the people in Jammu and Kashmir are being attacked and the local political parties intend to repulse it, Abdullah said. “We (the political parties) may have separate agendas and issues, but all of us are united on this issue of voting rights to non-locals,” he said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party want to rule Jammu and Kashmir by hook or by crook, Abdullah alleged. “They yell everyday that they will form the next government. Votes have not been polled yet and they say they will form the government,” he said. “I told them to avoid such things because in a democracy, the people decide.”

“We believe that there won’t be 2.5 million non-local voters, but 5 million, and they will be brought from outside to promote the BJP’s prospects,” Shah said.

The local political outfits had convened a similar meeting in Srinagar on August 22, which was attended by the Congress, the Shiv Sena and the Akali Dal (Mann), besides all of the constituents of the Gupkar Alliance, a grouping of all regional parties in Kashmir.

A meeting held by the chief electoral officer will all political parties on September 6 failed to ally their concerns. The PDP had accused the BJP of playing spoilsport in the meeting.

Aam Aadmi Party supporters led by former education minister Harsh Dev Singh and Taranjit Singh Tony had staged a protest at the Nirvachan Bhawan after the meeting.

“The BJP doesn’t want assembly elections in J&K and they are being delayed and denied constantly,” Harsh Dev Singh had said. “This is (all-party meet by the CEO) just a drama, a joke today.”

The former minister had alleged that such meetings were for “mere optics” and that no serious exercise has been initiated by the government to restore democracy in J&K.

The government had also issued a clarification on August 20, saying the reports of a likely addition of over 2.5 million voters after the summary revision of electoral rolls is a “misrepresentation of facts by vested interests”.

Reacting to the clarification Mehbboa Mufti had tweeted, “The ‘Clarification’ issued by DIPR (Department of Information and Public Relations)is a silent endorsement of the statement given by Chief Election Officer. Doesn’t address our apprehensions about non locals en masse being given the power to vote.Yet another design to dispossess people of J&K.”

The BJP has, however, slammed the NC, PDP and others for raking up the issue of “inclusion of non-local voters” and accused them of spreading propaganda to disturb the peace.It has said there was no issue of “locals or non-locals” as the Constitution gives the right to every citizen to vote after attaining the age of 18.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    A principal correspondent, Ravi Krishnan Khajuria is the bureau chief at Jammu. He covers politics, defence, crime, health and civic issues for Jammu city.

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