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No Right to Vote for Kashmiri Pandits? Voting Difficulties to be discussed with Election Commission of India

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Kashmiri Pandits are not returning to their jobs. Wikimedia
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New Delhi, May 11, 2017: A BJP delegation on Thursday apprised the Election Commission of the deletion of names of Kashmiri Pandits from the electoral roles and the cumbersome process they had to go through in exercising their right to vote.

The delegation, under the banner of Jammu and Kashmir Vikas Manch (JKVM), led by Union Ministers Jitendra Singh and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi also apprised the Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi about the numerous difficulties faced by the community in exercising their right to vote in Jammu and Kashmir.

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“The M-form is a procedure under which migrant Kashmir Pandits have to repeatedly submit documents to prove that they were genuine displaced people from the Kashmir valley and intend to vote. As a result of this complicated process the number of displaced voters decreased constantly,” a statement said.

The JKVM said that the number has reached a dismal number of few thousand from around 200,000 prior to displacement.

“The decrease was progressive with only 147,000 voters left on voter list in 1996 that went further down to 117,000 in 2002 and even more disappearing from the voter list, down to 71,000 in 2008. It seems the community is being disfranchised under a design.”

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“From around 170,000 before 1989 our number is shown as 72,793 in 2008. It is showcased as an increase from 26,679 in 2002. All this is due to complicated procedure of voting that is open to manipulation by vested interests.” the statement said.

The delegation demanded a sustained campaign should be undertaken by the Commission to ensure 100 per cent registration of eligible voters.

It also demanded that the voting booths for the community should be increased to make it possible for the voters to reach there conveniently.

The delgation demanded that electoral rolls of Kashmir valley are made available to the community in English or Devnagri.

“The Commission assured that necessary steps will be taken to remove the hurdles. The CEC also promised to deploy a senior officer of Deputy Election Commissioner’s rank to oversee and work out the modalities,” the delegation said. (IANS)

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The Plight Of Kashmir’s Pandits

The Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora said a memorandum signed by thousands of Kashmiri Pandits has been addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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Kashmiri Pandits
Plight of Kashmiri Pandits continues: Community members. Flickr

Dozens of Kashmiri Pandits on Friday paid homage to civilians, Army men and their community members killed since 1989 and said the plight of Pandits still continues.

For 28 years, the Kashmiri Pandit community has been observing September 14 as ‘Martyrs’ Day-Balidan Diwas’ at B.K. Ganjoo memorial park in Central Delhi.

United Kingdom-based activist Shafalica Bhan Kotwal who has been fighting for the rights of the Kashmiri Pandits, said: “There is no major change in the lives of Kashmir Pandits, their plight still continues despite Bharatiya Janata Party being in power.

Kashmiri pandits
Kashmir. Pixabay

“Most of them were thrown out of their homes. They are living in pathetic conditions in shelter homes with no basic facilities.”

She said the community was once accustomed to living in minus 17 degrees Celsius. “Their families are now living in the hostile Jammu weather,” she added.

The son of Kasmiri Pandits’ leader Tika Lal Taploo, Ashutosh Taploo, was at the meeting. He said: “My father was killed not just because he was a Pandit..because he was looked as the Hindu community leader.”

Kashmiri Pandits
Kashmiri Hindus protest renaming of Shankaracharya Hill. Flickr

Taploo said his father was the first Pandit to have fallen to terrorist bullets in the Valley.

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“Till today no government has brought any major change in Pandits’ lives, the atrocities we experienced and psychological trauma we suffered is fresh” he said.

In a statement calling for justice to “victims of terrorism,” the Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora said a memorandum signed by thousands of Kashmiri Pandits has been addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and submitted to Union Minister Hansraj Ahir. (IANS)