SEC issues ‘faulty’ postal ballot scheme notification for DDC polls for Kashmiri migrants: BJP

The Jammu and Kashmir BJP on Monday criticised the state election commission (SEC) for issuing a “faulty and discriminatory” postal ballot scheme notification for displaced Kashmiri migrants for the ensuing district development council (DDC) polls.

The party alleged that it was a “deliberate attempt” at the bureaucracy level to keep the community out of the DDC polls in the Kashmir Valley.

“We have come to the conclusion that the displaced Kashmiri pandit community has been kept out of the DDC polls in Kashmir. They are being deliberately disenfranchised due to wrongful, faulty and discriminatory notification of the postal ballot scheme by the state election commission,” vice president of J-K BJP and former MLC G L Raina told reporters here.

On November 10, officials had said the State Election Commission has put in place a mechanism for the successful implementation of the postal ballot scheme in the ensuing DDC elections to ensure the maximum participation of Kashmiri migrants.

They had said the concerned Kashmiri migrants living in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the country would have to approach the assistant returning officer (migrants) for getting themselves registered and other related things for the hassle-free exercise of their franchise.

However, the BJP leaders said the post-ballot scheme notification issued for DDC polls is the same as was issued during the 1996 elections.

“It seems that the 1996 scheme has been cut and pasted as notice for the present election ignoring all subsequent developments on this front,” Raini said.

“It is a cumbersome process with dozens of formalities for KP voters to go from one office to another to check their antecedents,” he added.

Raina said the act under which the notification for the postal ballot scheme for DDC polls was issued has been scrapped a year ago.

He said the community leadership is planning to approach the court against the notification.

“If they (KPs) go to court, the BJP will fully support them. We are also discussing it with BJP leadership,” Raina said.

“The community has been fighting for its right to participate meaningfully in democratic exercise ever since the first election in 1996 after the 1990-mass exodus,” he said.

BJP’s Kashmir unit spokesperson Rajiv Pandita alleged that despite first-ever DDC polls in J-K, there was no adequate publicity about the electoral college.

Electoral rolls, a pre-requisite for any election, are not available at notified centres, he said.

“Electoral rolls continue to be in Urdu only and not in English as was assured,” Pandita alleged.

He demanded the extension of the date of submission of postal ballot forms to December 10.

He also urged the state election commission to advise its staff in Kashmir to “respect” voter lists attested by authorities in Jammu. Polls to DDCs will be held in eight phases beginning November 28.

It will be the first major electoral exercise since the abrogation of Article 370 in August last year.

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