Other States

Gupkar alliance calls all-party meet to oppose EC’s move to enlist outsiders as voters

Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti. File

Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti. File | Photo Credit: AFP

Dr. Farooq Abdullah, president of the J&K-based parties alliance Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Alliance, on Thursday called an all-party meeting in Srinagar over the election commission’s move to allow outsiders to enlist as voters in the Union Territory (UT), a move being opposed all political parties.

Besides the parties affiliated to the Gupkar alliance like the Peoples Democratic Party, CPI(M) and Awami National Conference, Dr. Abdullah also called up other leaders, which include Peoples Conference chairman Sajjad Gani Lone, Apni Party president Syed Altaf Bukhari, J&K Pradesh Congress Committee president Waqar Rasool and Aam Aadmi Party leaders.

The meeting is scheduled for August 22 at the residence of Dr. Abdullah. “All political parties are being contacted for attending the meeting on the non-local voter issue,” CPI(M) leader and Gupkar alliance spokesman M.Y. Tarigami said.

There is growing resentment in regional parties in J&K to allow non-locals, who work or stay here, to be registered as voters for the upcoming assembly elections.

The former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday appealed to political parties of the country to speak up against the measures and policy of the BJP in J&K while describing the latest decision of the election commission to allow outsiders to vote in the assembly polls as “pre-poll rigging”.

“I appeal to those parties that have fought for secular and democratic India, and not those that sided with Britishers should speak up. All measures and policy decisions taken in J&K are not for the national interest but only for BJP’s interest. The BJP has made Kashmir a laboratory. They experiment here first and apply such tricks outside later,” Ms. Mufti said.

She said the election commission is allowing 25 lakh outsiders to vote in J&K’s next assembly election. “This will make voters from Kashmir as well as Jammu irrelevant. This is a step to disenfranchise locals,” Ms. Mufti.

She said it was the policy of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to have free and fair elections in J&K that allowed people to repose faith in the electoral process in J&K.

“We witnessed rigging everywhere in the country, even before and after the elections, by using money and muscle. Voting rights to the non-locals are aimed at conducting fraud elections to allow the BJP fascist to rule here. They have understood that after three years of rule in J&K, they couldn’t break the resistance of silent people,” Ms. Mufti said.

Meanwhile, Ms. Mufti said she has approached Peoples Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) president Dr. Farooq Abdullah to call an all-party meeting on the issue. “It is the time when we should focus on the Kashmir resolution more than elections, as it has gone beyond elections now,” Ms. Mufti.

She said the current regime failed to make it easy for scattered migrant Pandits to participate in polls in J&K but is keen to allow outsiders to vote here. 

CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami also described the announcement made by the Chief Electoral Officer on allowing outsiders to vote in J&K as “disenfranchising the people of J&K”.

“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. It is a brazen assault on the legitimate aspirations of the people,” Mr. Tarigami said.

Former J&K Pradesh Congress Committee President Ghulam Ahmad Mir said the move “would prove disastrous”. 

“The move is politically motivated, disappointing and very unfortunate. The Government of India should respect the emotions of the people of J&K rather than disempowering them by allowing non-locals to vote, which is unacceptable and intolerable to the people of J&K,” he said

Anyone who is living ordinarily in J&K can now also avail of the opportunity to get enlisted as a voter in the Union Territory (UT) in accordance with the provisions of representation of the Peoples Act, Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar said on Wednesday in Jammu. 

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Printable version | Aug 25, 2022 9:22:37 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/voting-rights-to-outsiders-mehbooba-appeals-national-parties-to-speak-up-against-bjps-kashmir-policy/article65782398.ece