Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar on Wednesday announced that Jammu and Kashmir is expected to get 25 lakh new voters. The decision is criticized by the opposition and the UT government. But why?
These 25 lakh voters will be those “ordinarily” residing in J&K and having achieved the age of 18 or above as on October 1 to be included. With this decision, any person outside of Jammu and Kashmir can vote there.
The Centre government took that decision after a special summary revision of electoral rolls which is being held for the very first time after the abrogation of Article 370 in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019.
Hirdesh Kumar described it as a challenging task to complete the special summary revision of electoral rolls by November 25.
As per the schedule, an integrated draft electoral roll will be published on September 15. The claims and objections can be filed between September 15 to October 25. Their disposal is expected to be completed by November 10.
Kumar said, “The special summary revision of electoral rolls is taking place for the first time after January 1, 2019 and so we are expecting massive changes in the voter list given the fact that a large number of youngsters have attained the age of 18 or 18 plus over the past three years.”
“After the abrogation of Article 370, many people who were not enlisted as voters in the erstwhile state of J&K are now eligible to vote and in addition anyone who is living ordinarily can also avail the opportunity to get enlisted as a voter in J&K in accordance with the provisions of representation of the Peoples Act,” he added.
The estimated 18+ population of Jammu and Kashmir is around 98 lakhs. However, the number of listed voters in the UT are approximately 76 lakhs. Therefore, over 20-25 lakh new voters are expected to be added to the voter list.
“There is no need for a person to have a domicile certificate of J&K to become a voter. An employee, a student, a labourer or anyone from outside who is living ordinarily in J&K, can enlist his or her name in the voting list. The documents will be scrutinised by government officials concerned who will take a decision after being satisfied about the claim,” he said.
Chief Electoral Officer Kumar referred to the processes that were followed in the past where UT residents working in security forces and posted outside the Jammu and Kashmir can register as service voters and avail the facility of postal ballot.
“Likewise, those from different parts of the country who are posted here have the option that if they are posted in a peace station they can enlist themselves as voters. Jammu is a peace station and anyone from outside posted in armed forces in the city can avail the option to enlist as a voter,” Kumar said.
He also added that the number of Assembly seats will be increased to 90 as a result of delimitation exercise.
Kumar stated, “All the 90 constituencies have witnessed some sort of change… We are undertaking mapping of old constituencies with new constituencies and it will be followed by the special summary revision (SSR).”
600 polling stations have also been added, which rise up to 11,370 across UT.
“Kashmir Has Become A Laboratory For BJP”: Mehbooba Mufti
“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,” tweeted National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah.
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. https://t.co/ZayxjHiaQy
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) August 17, 2022
Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti commented on the decision, “GOIs (Government of India’s) decision to defer polls in J&K preceded by egregious gerrymandering tilting the balance in BJPs favour & now allowing non locals to vote is obviously to influence election results. Real aim is to continue ruling J&K with an iron fist to disempower locals.”
GOIs decision to defer polls in J&K preceded by egregious gerrymandering tilting the balance in BJPs favour & now allowing non locals to vote is obviously to influence election results. Real aim is to continue ruling J&K with an iron fist to disempower locals. https://t.co/zHzqaMseG6
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) August 17, 2022
“This is dangerous. I don’t know what they want to achieve. This is much more than a mischief. Democracy is a relic especially in the context of Kashmir. Please remember 1987. We are yet to come out of that. Don’t replay 1987. It will be as disastrous,” said J&K Peoples Conference’s Sajad Lone.
This is dangerous. I don’t know what they want to achieve. This is much more than a mischief. Democracy is a relic especially in the context of Kashmir. Please remember 1987. We r yet to come out of that.
Don’t replay 1987. It will be as disastrous. https://t.co/STU1U7hAgi
— Sajad Lone (@sajadlone) August 17, 2022