'Counting kept in abeyance on 2 seats over citizenship issue of contestants'

Vote counting process in Jammu. [Image for representational purpose only] Photo: Mir Imran/ GK

Jammu and Kashmir State Election Commissioner K K Sharma on Wednesday said the counting of votes in two DDC constituencies has been kept in abeyance to clear doubts over the citizenship of two of the contesting candidates from north Kashmir’s Bandipora and Kupwara districts.

“The counting of votes was deferred in Drugmulla constituency (Kupwara district) and Hajin-A (Bandipora) in view of a question that has arisen on eligibility of one each contesting candidates from the two seats,” Sharma told reporters here.

Two persons hailing from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, who are married to former militants, are among the contestants from the Dragmulla and Hajin-A constituencies.

“A final decision in this regard shall be taken after taking all aspects into consideration,” the SEC said.

He said any person who is contesting the elections has to be a citizen of the country.

“The Election Commission acted after a complaint was received and the names of both these candidates were accordingly removed from the electoral rolls because of this doubt… The question about their citizenship is there and so we will be hearing from them and will take a decision accordingly,” Sharma said.

In response to a question, he said the counting in the two constituencies has not started and the ballot boxes still remain sealed.

“India is a democracy and has a tradition for people coming into the country from abroad. PaK is different so we have taken a very considerate decision otherwise there were other options available like stopping of elections or countermanding the polling,” he said, adding, “We are studying the matter and will act according to the law of the land. I think we have made a good decision”.