2200 migrants cast votes

Kashmiri migrants in a queue in front of special polling booth at Government High School Chak Changerwan (Chinore) to cast their vote on Monday. -Excelsior/Rakesh
Kashmiri migrants in a queue in front of special polling booth at Government High School Chak Changerwan (Chinore) to cast their vote on Monday. -Excelsior/Rakesh

Only 4 votes polled in Delhi

Avtar Bhat
JAMMU, May 6: Over 2200 migrants cast their vote in twin districts of Pulwama and Shopian in third phase of polling in Anantnag Parliamentary constituency today. The polling in Anantnag constituency was held in three stages. While for district Anantnag polling was held in third phase of elections on April 23, elections for strife torn Kulgam district was held on April 29 i.e in fourth phase while polling for two disturbed districts of Shopian and Pulwama was held in the fifth phase today.
As per official reports, 2249 migrants exercised their right to franchise out of 3554 who had opted to cast their vote on 21 special polling stations set up for Kashmiri migrants at Jammu, Udhampur and Delhi by filling M Forms. The Government had established 26 special polling booths for the Kashmiri migrants in different parts of the country and out of them polling was held only on 21 polling stations while no migrant had opted the rest five polling booths for casting their vote.It may be recalled that there are near 11,000 migrant votes in these two constituencies.
Assistant Returning Officer (ARO), Migrants Jammu, Pankaj Anand said that out of 21 Special migrant polling stations in Jammu elections were held on 19 polling booths only. He said no migrant voter had opted for casting his vote at Special polling booth of Miran Sahib while only one migrant had chosen Sarwal polling booth and he was later shifted to special polling booth at BOSE, Rehari.
Only four migrants turned up to cast their vote at Special Polling Booth in New Delhi out of 14 migrants who had opted to cast their vote in Union Capital, Digvijay Gupta, ARO Migrants Delhi told Excelsior. He said these migrants cast their vote at Special polling booth JK House -5-Prithviraj road New Delhi. Out of them, 2 migrant voters were from Rajpora constituency in Pulwama district and one each from Tral and Wachi Assembly segments of the same district. All the four voters were male, he added.
It may be recalled that Election Commission had established four special polling booths at Delhi for Kashmiri migrants to cast their vote but no migrant opted for other three polling booths.
Fifty six migrants cast their vote at special polling booth in Udhampur, who included 24 male and 32 female, said ARO Migrants Udhampur, Dr Anirudh Raj. He said his office had received M Forms of 89 migrants who had opted to cast their vote in Udhampur and out of them only 56 cast their vote today.
In Jammu 2189 migrants cast their vote at 19 special polling booths out of 3451 who had filled up their M Forms, said ARO, Pankaj Anand. He said highest number of 414 votes were polled at PS Government High School Chakchangerwan (Chinore) out of 717 total votes. This was followed by polling station Jagti B where out of 151 total votes 101 were polled. At polling Station Middle School Jagti 171 votes were polled out of 247 while 275 votes out of 434 were polled at polling station Jagti A. At Special polling station in Director School Education Muthi 295 votes were cast out of 530 votes.
At polling station Panchayat Ghar Muthi, 201 votes were cast out of 300. The lowest number of five votes were polled at Special Polling Station Commerce College where out of 24 total votes only five were polled while at Polling Station Pouni Chak, out of nine votes six were polled.
However, polling was disrupted at Migrant Polling booth in Government School Chak Changerwan for one hour after the Electronic Voting machine (EVM) developed a snag. The migrants and BJP leaders including J L Pandit and Rakesh Koul Councilor said that the migrants who had come to cast their vote at polling booth during morning time had to stay for a long time in the scorching heat as they could not cast their vote after EVM developed a snag.
They said the EVM was replaced twice and the second one also could not function and it took one hour in replacing the EVM. Admitting this the Presiding Officer of Polling booth said that polling was affected for some time but later restored after replacing the EVM. However, Rakesh Koul alleged that the migrant voters who were also private employees were told that one hour which was wasted due to EVM disturbance will be increased later but the polling staff did not increase the time and closed polling at schedule timing of 4 pm. This way they did not allow those migrants to cast vote who were told that one hour will be extended later. for the voting.
Meanwhile, one migrant voter also turned unconscious after waiting for casting his vote in the scorching heat at the Chak Changerwan Polling Station. He was identified as Moti Lal of Bantlalab. Later he was shifted to Hospital.
A ninety year old lady Bhimla Sathoo was taken to Special Polling Station established at Horticulture Complex SKUAST Jammu Udaywala by a social worker S K Raina to cast her vote.
It may be recalled that elections were held for six Assembly segments in twin districts of Pulwama and Shopian in Anantnag Parliamentary constituency today. They included Tral, Pampore, Wachi, Pulwama, Rajpora and Shopian.
The Kashmiri migrants of these constituencies living hundreds of miles away from their native place for the past three decades and who exercised their right to franchise today said they voted with the hope for an end to terrorism and return of peace to their homeland.
“We want that South Kashmir should be freed from the twin grave threats (terrorism and radicalisation) to the composite culture of Kashmir,” 65-year-old Pyara Lal Pandita, who hailed from Pulwama district of the Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency, said after casting vote at a special polling station at Jagti.
Kashmiri Pandits, who have been voting in exile for the past three decades for their native Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies, said the situation in Kashmir is getting worse due to rampant radicalisation and terrorism, weakening the possibility of their return to and rehabilitation in Kashmir valley.
Arvind Koul, who hails from Shopian, said his community members cannot return to their homeland unless and until there is restoration of “composite culture and humanity as existed before the emergence of terrorism in the valley” in 1989-1990.
For 21-year-old Sunita Bhat from Tral of South Kashmir, “Peace and security are first and foremost conditions for settlement of a minority community.”
“The Government should consider these before formulating a rehabilitation policy,” she said.
Neha, a first time voter putting up at Jagti, said that she voted with this hope that the new Government will create employment opportunities for displaced youth by announcing another package for them which will pave away for community’s return to Kashmir. The over aged youth who cast their vote wanted that Government should announce one time compensation for them to establish their own business ventures while old people who cast their vote want that Government should frame a concrete policy for their return and rehabilitation in Valley to which no Government has paid attention till date.
However, views of some youth where different, who said that they wanted Narendra Modi should again come to power and take concrete steps for abrogation of Article 35-A and Article 370 giving Special status to J&K which is the cause of present mess. Desh Rattan, a migrant and social activist asked why there should be two Constitutions in a single State. He also wanted that new Government at Delhi should take action against the political leaders who are making anti nationals statements.
Meanwhile, some Kashmiri Pandits staged demonstrations outside a special polling station here today after they found their names missing from the voter list.