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Mufti Terms Order For New Voters in Jammu Part of 'Settler Colonial' Project

Anees Zargar |
Political parties in J&K lash out at authorities after fresh administrative order directed revenue officials to issue residence certificates to persons living in Jammu for over a year and register them as voters.
Mehbooba Mufti

Image Courtesy: flickr

Srinagar: The political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have lashed out at authorities after a fresh administrative order directed revenue officials to issue residence certificates to persons living in Jammu for more than a year and register them as voters. 

The parties have accused the administration of attempting to influence the ongoing revision of the electoral rolls that many say will impact the upcoming elections to favour the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). 

The Deputy Commissioner Jammu Avny Lavasa on Tuesday issued an order authorising Tehsildars, or revenue officials, to issue a certificate of residence to any person who has been residing in Jammu for more than a year. The move is aimed to facilitate their entry into the ongoing special summary revision of electoral rolls in the union territory.

“Keeping in view the urgency involved in the matter and to ensure that no eligible voter is left for registration during the Special Summary Revision, 2022 in District Jammu, all Tehsildars are authorised to issue a certificate of residence after conducting necessary field verifications, to the person(s) residing in District Jammu for more than one year, for the purpose,” the order from the district election officer read. 

The order created a furore in the political circles with the President of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Mehbooba Mufti terming it as a step to initiate ‘settler colonialism’ in the region. 

“ECI’s latest order for registration of new voters makes it clear that GOI’s colonial settler project has been initiated in Jammu. They will bear the first blow to Dogra culture, identity, employment and business,” Mehbooba tweeted. 

The BJP is employing a “divide and rule” policy for people in Jammu and Kashmir and we have already witnessed a rise in the crime rate in Jammu due to recent developments. “Not only is the Dogra culture in threat but their economy and livelihood are in danger. The people from both Jammu and Kashmir should realise and stand united like people of Kargil and Leh united to defeat the BJP’s ill intentions,” she told reporters. 

“BJPs attempts to create religious and regional divisions between Jammu and Kashmir must be thwarted because whether it a Kashmiri or a Dogra, safeguarding our identity and rights will be possible only if we put up a collective fight,” she added in another tweet. 

Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (JKNC) also expressed their opposition to the move while accusing the BJP of insecurity in holding the elections. 

“The Government is going ahead with its plan to add 25 lakh, non-local voters, in J&K and we continue to oppose this move. BJP is scared of the elections & knows it will lose badly. People of J&K must defeat these conspiracies at the ballot box,” a statement from the party read. 

The row over the revision of electoral rolls began after Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar announced that around 25 lakh new voters including non-locals will likely be registered as voters. It is for the first time that the non-locals will be able to vote in the assembly elections in Kashmir after the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35 A, a move that has raised concern amongst the locals, they allege could lead to “electoral manipulation”. 

The Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference (JKPC) said that the DC Jammu’s order on facilitating the registration of non-locals as electors is “highly suspicious”. This, the party statement read, goes against the Supreme Court judgement on the issue.

“The onus of proving our suspicions wrong yet again lies on the ECI and the J&K administration. They must clarify if such a directive is permissible,” the party argued. 

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