In a rally on 27 April in Srinagar, Farooq Abdullah, President of Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, said, “They say those who do not vote for Narendra Modi should go to Pakistan. But I say, “Those who vote for Modi should drown in the sea.” These statements made during political campaigns were prospective threats for the voters of BJP from Srinagar. And the fear was evident from the number of migrant voters who came out to vote in Srinagar-Budgam constituency, who voted on 30 April.
On April 30, in Srinagar-Budgam constituency, only 6 per cent migrated Kashmiri Hindus franchised their right to vote due to the apathy of the Election Commission of India and conspiracy of State government of Jammu and Kashmir. There were no efforts to identify migrated voters from Srinagar. And those who were identified were not registered for voting. And those who had applied for voter registration didn’t get their names in the voters list.
The Srinagar Lok Sabha seat has 12.31 lakh voters, including 5.72 lakh women, who are eligible to cast their votes at 1,546 polling stations.
Unlike every Indian citizen, migrant Hindus have no permanent voter I-card and have to follow cumbersome registration process before every election. They have to fill M Form, an application form to be filled by the migrated voters and then have to get it attested by a gazetted officer. Kashmir valley differs from the other states of India, where minorities enthusiastically take part in the election process. Voting is just a formality for the Minorities living in the Valley. They don’t understand the importance of each and every vote. Rather than voting, the minorities living in the Valley prefer staying at home. When a young Sikh was asked the reason of not voting this time, he said, “These leaders are treating us as second class citizens, and have introduced no welfare scheme for our community, so why should I waste my vote for them.”
Farooq Abdullah, in a poll rally in Srinagar said “Pray to God to save us from communal forces so that we can move forward. India cannot become communal. If it becomes communal, then Kashmir will not remain with India. Communalism is not acceptable to Kashmiris.” Later, on April 30, after casting his vote in Srinagar he said “Whatever I had said was from my heart. I have never said anything to get votes. I have placed truth before people. People have to see.” When asked by journalists to elaborate on the word “communal”, he said, “Why should I elaborate?” From the mouth of a member of ruling family which did not let any non-Muslim become the CM of the state, eight tenures of which have not let Jammu-Kashmir Constitution become secular, the era of whose rule had seen holocaust followed by exodus of Hindus of Valley- this sounded more like “How could I elaborate?”
If that was not enough, after Farooq Abdullah’s drowning statement his son Omar Abdullah blamed BJP for exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley. Talking about the incident of 1989 Omar said “the exodus of Pandits from Kashmir took place during the tenure of Jagmohan, who was the governor of the state then, and when Mufti Mohammed Syed was the [Union] Home Minister. If Kashmiri went, they went with the BJP’s support.”
– Arvind, a researcher at J&K Study Centre, New Delhi