Elections unlikely this year in J&K as EC delays release of voter rolls

Photo: BCCL

Srinagar: The Electoral Commission has postponed the final publication of voter lists in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir which has been without an elected assembly since 2018.

The final draft voter lists will be published on November 25 instead of October 31 as previously announced by the commission.

The new Election Commission announcement, according to political experts, will not pave the way for elections to be held in the Union Territory of J&K as during the month of December, Kashmir receives heavy drops in snow and experience difficult weather conditions. 40 days of Chili-a-Kalan _Severe Winter- also starts from December.

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In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Election Commission of India, while extending the period for filing complaints and objections from 30 days to 40 days i.e. from September 15 to October 25, 2022, said that the final voters lists after duly settling all claims and objections filed within the stipulated time frame will be released on November 25, 2022.

He noted that currently, pre-revision activities as well as post-delimitation follow-up work are ongoing in Jammu and Kashmir, where existing voters lists are being mapped in the newly demarcated Assembly constituencies in accordance with the final order of the Boundary Commission made applicable by the Ministry of Union Law as of May 20, 2022.

“As part of pre-review activities, the process of streamlining/reorganizing polling stations, removing discrepancies between demographically similar entries/similar photos, duplicate EPIC, preparing supplements and draft rolls integrated with reference to October 1, 2022, as the qualifying date is currently taking place at J&K. Draft integrated lists that reference October 1, 2022, as the qualifying date, will now be released by all Voter Registration Officers (EROs) ) of UT on September 15, 2022, marking the official start of review activities,” the Elections Commission ordered, reproduced by the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, said.

He added that the review activities that will begin on September 15 will include the disposition of complaints and objections received after the publication of the draft integrated voters list.

Several political parties, including the Jammu and Kashmir Congress, demanded the holding of elections and the restoration of the state.

The Congress Party is organizing a ‘padyatra’ in South Kashmir to celebrate India’s 75th Independence Day. “Apart from highlighting the sacrifices of the freedom fighters through which India gained its freedom from the British, we also demand the restoration of democracy in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Ghulam Ahmad Mir, Chairman of JKPCC, Ghulam Ahmad Mir, at TNN.

The Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party led by former PDP leader and minister Altaf Bukhari held public rallies across UT to pressure the central government to hold elections in J&K.

Then Governor Satya Pal Malik dissolved the assembly in 2018 hours after political parties demanded the formation of a government in J&K via social media sites.
On August 5, 2019, the Modi government revoked Article 370 and downgraded Jammu and Kashmir to union territory. Interior Minister Amit Shah on the house floor promised that J&K’s statehood would be restored in due course.
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Jacob L. Thornton