Panel set up to counter move to include non-locals as voters in J&K: PAGD


Jammu: A 14-member committee has been set up to chalk out the strategy as regards any attempt of “manipulation and inclusion” of non-locals in the revised electoral rolls of Jammu and Kashmir, the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) said on Saturday.

The panel has members from the five PAGD constituents and several other political parties such as the Congress, the Shiv Sena, the Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Party (DSSP) and the Dogra Sadar Sabha (DSS).
Announcing the formation of the committee, nearly a month after arriving at a consensus on the issue at a meeting chaired by former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah here, PAGD spokesperson M Y Tarigami said National Conference (NC) MP Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi will be the panel’s convenor.

The PAGD, an amalgam of five political parties — NC, PDP, CPI(M), CPI and the Awami National Conference (ANC) — is campaigning for the restoration of the special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Besides Masoodi, the other members of the committee include working president of Jammu and Kashmir Congress Raman Bala, former MP Sheikh Abdul Rehman, NC provincial president (Jammu) Rattan Lal Gupta, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leaders Mehboob Beg and A S Reen, former minister and DSSP president Chowdhary Lal Singh and former minister and DSS president Gulchain Singh Charak, Tarigami said.

He said Shiv Sena’s Jammu and Kashmir unit chief Manish Sawhney, CPI(M) leader Hari Singh, CPI leader G M Mizrab, ANC president Muzaffar Ahmad Shah, International Democratic Party president I D Khujuria and Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement leader M Hussain are the other members of the panel.
Tarigami said the committee was formed after deliberations and consultations, in accordance with a decision taken at a meeting of senior leaders of various political parties under Abdullah’s chairmanship in Jammu on September 10, to set up a panel to chalk out the future strategy on the issue of any attempt at manipulating and including non-locals in the revised electoral rolls.

Hardening its stand on the issue of inclusion of non-locals as voters in the Union Territory despite a clarification from the administration, the PAGD held two meetings — one in Srinagar on August 22 and another in Jammu on September 10.

The issue surfaced when the then chief electoral officer Hirdesh Kumar said in August that Jammu and Kashmir is likely to get around 25 lakh additional voters, including outsiders, after the special summary revision of the electoral rolls being held for the first time after the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution.

Following an outcry, the administration clarified that “this revision of electoral rolls will cover existing residents of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the increase in numbers will be of the voters who have attained the age of 18 years as of October 1, 2022, or earlier”.

“All of us are together to stop the onslaught that is taking place on Jammu and Kashmir (since the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019). This (giving voting rights to people from outside) is the biggest among all and it is not acceptable to us,” Abdullah had told reporters in Jammu after chairing the “all-party” meet.

Asked why were they not satisfied with the clarification from the administration, Abdullah had said, “Which institution is running in a right way? The then governor Satya Pal Malik had told us nothing will happen to Article 370 prior to the August 5, 2019 development.”

“The LG is sitting here…. The prime minister chaired an all-party meeting (in June last year) and a decision was taken that ‘Dilli ki doori’ (the distance from Delhi) as well as ‘dil ki doori’ (the distance from the heart) will be bridged and prisoners will be released. Tell me about anyone who has been released. And they are implementing new laws every day. Therefore, all of us here feel that rights are under attack and we are here to counter that attack,” Abdullah had said. PTI

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