Voting Rights To Non-Locals Sparks Fresh Controversy In Jammu And Kashmir
In Jammu and Kashmir, a new debate about the ability of non-citizens to vote has arisen. Undocumented residents in the area who have lived there for the past year are to be registered as voters, according to a formal mandate. Fears of voter list manipulation and claims of demographic shifts have grown more intense as a result. Ghulam Nabi Azad and all other regional parties and leaders have raised the red flag and objected to the plan.
Former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has accused the administration of carrying out a “colonial settler project” that was started in Jammu. As part of the voter registration process, a District Magistrate Jammu circular authorises revenue officials to give certificates of residency to persons who have lived in Jammu for more than a year.
Avny Lavasa, who is also the district election officer for Jammu, writes in the circular that it was observed that some newly eligible voters were having difficulties registering to vote because the necessary documents were not readily available.
According to the circular, “It has been observed that some eligible voters are having difficulties registering as voters due to a lack of documents.” It stated that “Tehsildar’s are authorised to issue certificate of residence to the person(s) residing in District Jammu for more than one year, after conducting necessary field verifications.”
On November 25, the election rolls in Jammu and Kashmir would have been updated. Amit Shah, the union home minister, stated during a recent trip to J&K that elections for the assembly would take place shortly after the completion of the electoral records.
When J&K’s chief election officer said in August that 20–25 lakh new voters will be added during a special revision of the electoral lists and that non-locals who habitually resided in Jammu and Kashmir would be enrolled as voters, the debate over their inclusion erupted.
Only permanent residents may vote prior to J&K’s unique constitutional status being revoked.
In Jammu and Kashmir, all regulations that defined who was a permanent resident of the former state and prohibited outsiders from buying property or exercising their right to vote were abolished in August 2019.
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