Cries of kashmiri Pandits could be easily heard in their demonstration expressing resentment for not being able to vote. Cries for not exercising their right to vote, to change the present scenario of the state, to bring better government in power, which was ultimately a part of conspiracy by the state government.
On May 12, a group of Kashmiri Pandits held a demonstration in Ananatnag Lok Sabha constituency in front of the Jammu Election Commission office at Gandhi Nagar in Jammu to draw the attention of EC toward the non-inclusion of names of thousands of Kashmiri migrants in the voter lists despite filling up of ‘M Forms’ by them well in time. People felt disappointed on the part of ECI and Relief Commissioner Office Jammu who have failed in their obligation to protect the Fundamental Right to vote of the migrants
After January 20, 1989 Kashmiri Hindus lost their age old ancestor properties. Living with no sense of belongings they were robbed off their right to participate in the fundamental process of expressing opinion; the voting. It’s already very hard to vote with high frustration in the prejudiced atmosphere; displaced from their homes and history, the Hindus of the valley are subjected to the irresponsibly cumbersome process of registration using ‘M Form’. Standing in long queues at the booths near their refuge did not help many, who applied using ‘M Form’, as they did not find their names in the voters list or there were incorrect entries.
Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency has voted on April 30 which comprises of three districts; Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal. At the time of exodus of Hindus, Ganderbal District had 14 villages of Kashmiri Hindus. In this Lok Sabha election there was not even a single displaced voter from Ganderbal district. Shocking!! It is obnoxious, be it a deliberate attempt or negligence. In the same heedless constituency more than one lakh of new voters had registered in the last phase of voter registration. Suspicion of fake registration rises when no such enthusiasm was seen during the voting as none of the valley’s constituencies has crossed 30 per cent polling.
Students of Ladakh were made to sit on demonstrations on various places for their fundamental right of voting providing which is the part of the duty of ECI. Around 10,000 students of Ladakh studying in various parts of the Country are feared of losing their right to vote. These students could be a deciding factor on Ladakh seat as in the 2009 parliamentary elections this seat was won with the margin of only 3,708 votes. This is the time when most of the parts of Ladakh is covered under the snow. Srinagar-Leh highway is closed due to accumulation of 10-12 feet ice at Zojila. Air travel is not a viable option for a student which apart from being expensive does not offer connectivity to further remote areas. In order to use their voting rights, students of the Ladakh were demanding alternate voting facility in Jammu.
There were some cases in the past when EC has changed the date of voting pertaining to bad weather conditions or problems like that, then why not this time?
It seems that during this Lok Sabha election in Jammu-Kashmir political orientation of an employee is taken into account before appointing for the election duty. In the elections of April 17, denial of voting rights had been a major issue. On April 16, just before Election Day 100 Special Police Officers (SPOs) were forced to revolted for their voting rights. Time and again BJP has raised objection over deployment of Villagr Defence Committee (VDC) members on security duty outside their villages. VDC and SPOs are considered as voters of BJP.
All the stated above stances imply towards the indifferent attitude. It would have raised the credibility of the ECI if all these instances would have been treated desirably. After all caring for the voters and voting is the whole and sole responsibility of ECI and denial of which is criminal offence.
(The writer is a researcher at J&K Study Centre, New Delhi)