Disenfranchised in their own land

Peerzada Ashiq

‘If PoK is a part of India, what is the problem with my candidature,’ asks Somiya, who was a candidate in 2020 but removed from the rolls now

 Disenfranchised in their own land

In limbo: Somiya Sadaf at her dairy farm in Batargam in north Kashmir. SPECIAL ARRANGEMENTSPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

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Sunday, 4th December 2022
Page No. 1
Delhi Print Edition

Despite the chill infused by sub-zero temperatures in north Kashmir, 37-year-old Somiya Sadaf is busy delivering motivational lectures to the progressive farmers of Dragmulla in Kupwara district but remains a mute spectator to the constituency’s District Development Council (DDC) election scheduled for December 5. This is in stark contrast to the scene just two years ago, when she herself was the candidate in the election in December 2020.

Ms. Sadaf, who originally hails from Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), is the wife of a Kupwara resident. On counting day on December 22, 2020, the State Election Commissioner responded to a complaint that Ms. Sadaf and Shazia Begum, another woman from PoK, fighting the election from Hajin in Bandipora district, were not “bona fide India citizen(s)”, and stopped the declaration of results in both seats. In November 2022, the SEC announced re-polling in both seats on December 5.

“I was sweeping the election. That is why the counting was stopped in its last leg that day. If PoK is a part of India, what could be the possible problem with my citizenship? I understand any citizenship issues if someone was from Pakistan,” Ms. Sadaf, who has a degree in sociology from Muzaffarabad and a Master’s in Urdu from Kashmir, told The Hindu.

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