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Protests mark polling by Kashmiri Pandits for Anantnag LS seat
4/23/2019 11:05:19 PM
Early Times Report
Jammu, Apr 23: Migrant Kashmiri Pandits staged demonstration outside a special polling station here today after some of them found their names missing from the voters list during the first phase of the three-phased poling in the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat.
However, Assistant Returning Officer Pankaj Anand said the election office has made sure that no voter, who has filled the M-form, is left out as over 4,000 electorates including 1826 women cast their ballots at the designated polling centres in Jammu.
The polling in the south Kashmir constituency, spread over four districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama covering 16 assembly segments, is being held in three phases with the second phase scheduled to take place on April 29 followed by the final phase on May 6.
Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and state Congress chief G A Mir are among 18 candidates whose fate would be decided by the polling in the constituency which has a large number of registered migrant voters.
The Election Commission set up 21 special polling stations for Kashmiri Pandit migrant voters in Jammu, one in Udhampur and four in Delhi to ensure their participation in the democratic exercise.
Dozens of KPs held noisy protest outside one of the polling station at Jagati camp in the outskirts of Jammu after some of them claimed their names were missing from the voter list.
"We have completed the cumbersome formalities like filing of M-form to exercise our right to franchise but left dejected on finding our names missing," said Sunil Pandita, one of the protesters.
The protesters threatened boycott of upcoming assembly polls if the election commission continues with the present formalities.
"We have filed the necessary M-Forms for voting...the voter list is made available only a day before the polling, leaving us with no option but to vote if our name is included or if it is otherwise, we have to return without registering our choice," another protester Veerji Raina said.
Out of over 99,000 registered migrant voters, there are 38,564 migrant voters in the Anantnag constituency.
"As many as 6,745 voters were eligible to cast their vote the first phase after completing the required formalities. Over the past few days, we made hectic efforts to ensure that no voter is left out," Anand told .
He said as many as 4,015 voters including 1,826 women exercised their franchise at the 21 polling stations in Jammu, which is the encouraging compared to the previous two phases.
The pandit migrant voter list for the second and third phase in the constituency is in progress and would be made available once all the M-Forms are filed by the concerned voters, he said.
Ashish Koul, a first time voter standing in a queue to cast his vote at another special polling station set up at directorate of school education Muthi, said the Election Commission needs to review the procedure to ensure more participation of the community in the democratic festival.
Mohan Lal, another voter, said the government should make the process easy and "if it comes out with an alternative to the cumbersome M-forms and facilitate voting by voter cards, I am sure you will see 100 per cent voting by pandits."
Almost all the special polling stations came lively throughout the day with pandits, both men and women, turning up in good numbers to cast their votes. "We are nationalist by core and my vote is against terrorism and strengthening the bond between Jammu and Kashmir and rest of the country," Lal said after casting his vote while expressing his desire to return to his homeland in the valley.
Former MLC B L Bhat said, "I voted to strengthen brotherhood and keep away the divisive forces who are hell bent to divide the people of different religions, regions and communities and pose a challenge to the unity and integrity of the nation.
"We are against any form of extremism and we want all the three regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh to stand united," Bhat said.
Sushi, a woman voter, said the faith in democracy attracted her to the polling station otherwise "our politicians only appear when there is an election. They remain untraced after polling is over."
"We are living in exile for the last three decades and are facing a lot of problems, the biggest being the unemployment of our youth. We want such a government at the centre which will deliver on its promises and reach out to the people, ensure development and provide ample employment opportunities to the youth," she said.
Neha and Minakshi, both first time voters, said the unemployment is the biggest problem and the new government should concentrate and create jobs for the educated youth.
Shivam, who had come all the way from Mumbai to vote for the first time, said the community is suffering since leaving their homes in Kashmir and "we want such a government which will hear our voice and fulfill our needs".
B L Pandita said he is a fan of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the community has high hopes from him
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