The job of amending the voter list in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has come under the scanner again. Since September 15 of last month, the special amendment process for the registration of new voters, the deletion, correction and removal of the names of voters who left or died, progressed at its own pace. But an order issued by the Jammu district administration on Tuesday has created a political boil in the Union Territory.
In this order issued on Tuesday, it was said that people who have lived in the Jammu district for the past year can put their names on the voter list. Of the 20 districts in the Union Territory, this order has been issued only by the Jammu District Officer, which has attracted the attention of all political parties.
After this, the Congress and the recently formed Democratic Azad Party of Ghulam Nabi Azad, including all the regional opposition parties of the Kashmir Valley, have strongly criticized it.
Kashmiris last voted in national elections in 2019, months after which they were stripped of their autonomy.
Earlier, after the statement of the Chief Electoral Officer of Jammu and Kashmir Hridesh Kumar Singh on updating the voter list, the political parties of Kashmir had mobilized.
The election officer had talked about involving voters from outside states in this process. In protest against this, the regional parties opposed the decision of the Election Commission by registering an objection. Later, the Election Commission called an all-party meeting and gave its clarification, removing the concerns of all the political parties.
According to the order issued by Jammu District Deputy Commissioner Avani Lavasa, “All Tehsildars have to do necessary field verification to ensure the registration of voters in Jammu district during the special amendment process”.
After this, those people who have been residing in the Jammu district for more than a year have been authorized to issue domicile certificates.
The order also issued a list of documents that can be accepted as proof of residence.
In August, the government said Kashmir’s electoral lists were expected to add 2.5 million voters, raising the number of voters by more than a third from 7.6 million.
Local Kashmiris fear that any change in Indian law giving new voters opt-in rights would allow Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to change the majority constituency in the region. will give, which will put an end to the decades-long independence movement in that region.
The BJP says its policies are meant to benefit ordinary Kashmiris, but political parties in the region don’t see their movement that way.
The National Conference, PDP, Congress and other prominent political parties in Jammu and Kashmir were outraged by this decision by the Jammu administration, while the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) defended the decision and said that it is in line with the new laws.
Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, chairman of the J&K People’s Democratic Party (PDP), wrote in the tweet, “BJP’s efforts to create religious and regional division between J&K must be thwarted because whether it is Kashmiri or Dogra, protecting our identity and rights will be possible only when we fight a collective fight.”
Officials are reviewing voter lists in all of Kashmir’s constituencies (20 in all) and India’s Home Minister Amit Shah has said elections will take place after the revised lists are released.
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