Non-locals in J-K can register as service voters: CEO J&K

Elections - Voting - Polls

SRINAGAR — Chief Electoral Officer, Hirdesh Kumar on Wednesday said residents of J&K who are working outside can register themselves as service voters, similarly people from other states working here like in Army, outside workers have the option to register themselves as voters here.

“This option was earlier also available with them,” he said while addressing a press conference at Nirvachan Bhawan here and announced the launch and schedule of Special Summary Revision in Jammu & Kashmir.

It was told that in continuation to its earlier notification dated June 29, 2022, the Election Commission of India has further notified the schedule of Special Summary Revision with reference to October 1, 2022, as the qualifying date in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.

According to the schedule, Integrated Draft Electoral Roll would be published by all Electoral Registration Officers on September 15, 2022. The period between September 15 and October 25 has been earmarked for filing claims and objections and all disposals in this regard would be completed by November 10.

Checking of health parameters and obtaining the Commission’s permission for final publication, updating the database and printing of supplements are to be done by November 19, 2022. The Final Electoral Roll would be published on November 25.

Those present during the press conference also included Additional Secretary, Sandish Kumar Gupta; State Nodal Officer, SVEEP, Akhtar Hussain Qazi and Joint Director Information Jammu, Sapna Kotwal.

The Chief Electoral Officer reiterated that any person attaining the age of 18 years on or before October 1, 2022, and is otherwise qualified to be enrolled as an elector in the Electoral Roll, can apply for his registration during this special summary revision.

Hirdesh Kumar said, “Pre-revision activities as well as post delimitation follow-up work is going on in the UT, wherein the existing electoral roll is being mapped into the newly delimited Assembly Constituencies as per the Delimitation Commission’s final order made applicable by the Union Law Ministry with effect from May 20, 2022. As part of the pre-revision activities, the process of rationalisation/re-arrangement of polling stations, removal of discrepancies of demographically similar entries/similar photo entries, duplicate EPICS, preparation of supplements and integrated draft roll is also going on at present.”

The Integrated Draft Roll, with reference to October 1, 2022, as the qualifying date, would be published by all EROs of the UT on September 15, 2022, marking the formal beginning of the revision activities.

The Commission has extended the period for filing claims and objections from 30 days to 40 days: from September 15, 2022, to October 25, 2022. During this period, special camps would also be organised by CEO Jammu and Kashmir on weekends for which the date will be publicised separately.

Objections could be filled through multiple platforms – offline by submitting a hard copy in prescribed format before ERO/AERO or concerned BLO and online objections and claims could be filled by logging into portal or by downloading Voter Helpline App (VHA).

The final electoral roll after due disposal of all claims and objections filed within the stipulated time period would be published on November 25, 2022.

BJP welcomes granting of voting rights to non-locals

BJP spokesperson J&K, Altaf Thakur welcomed the inclusion of non-local people working in Jammu and Kashmir as service voters.

“Welcome the induction of 25 lakh new voters, especially the youth in the new voter list. Democracy flourishing in J&K. Also, a great step by the Election Commission of India (ECI) for giving voting rights in Assembly polls to non-local labourers, those who have come for studies, and those here for security puposes. Regional parties feeling the heat of real democracy,” he said.

All other parties resent granting voting rights to non-locals

As the Chief Electoral Officer of J&K Hridesh Kumar allows voter rights in J&K for every citizen of the country posted or working in the UT, the political parties have expressed their strong displeasure over the move.

Reacting to the statement of the Chief Electoral Officer of J&K that every citizen of the country staying in J&K can have voting rights in Assembly elections, J&K Peoples Conference President Sajad Gani Lone today said that such a step would be a replay of 1987.

Taking to the micro-blogging platform Twitter, Sajad Lone said, “This is dangerous. I don’t know what they want to achieve. This is much more than 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.”

“GOIs decision to defer polls in J&K preceded by egregious gerrymandering tilting the balance in BJP’s favour & now allowing non-locals to vote is obviously to influence election results. The real aim is to continue ruling J&K with an iron fist to disempower locals,” PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said.

“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,” says former chief minister Omar Abdullah.

“I express my serious concern over the Government of India’s move to influence EC to allow non-locals to vote in J&K. Politically motivated step, disappointing, very unfortunate, should not happen. GOI should respect the emotions of JK People rather than disempowering them politically. I would suggest GOI to desist from doing such undemocratic exercises,” said senior Congress leader G. A. Mir.

“What CEO has said amounts to disenfranchising the people of Jammu and Kashmir further. The delimitation process through the Reorganisation Act was an attempt to change the electoral demography of the region. In the absence of any representative government in J&K, the Union government has been exercising undiluted control in the region through a bureaucratic structure since June 2018. Today’s statement of CEO is a brazen assault on the legitimate aspirations of the people,” said CPIM leader and PAGD spokesman Mohammad Yousuf Taragami.

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