Jammu: Controversial order allowing voters' registration for 'non-locals' withdrawn
The Jammu administration on Wednesday rescinded an order that empowered revenue officials to give certificates of residence to persons who had been living in the district for more than a year in order to register them as voters. The decision was criticized by political parties in Jammu and Kashmir saying it was attempt by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to sway the upcoming assembly elections.
Why does this story matter?
- The controversy was triggered nearly two months after the decision to update the electoral roll was made for the first time following the abrogation of Article 370 in J&K and the delimitation process.
- To recall, the union territory has been without an elected administration since June 2018.
- Following the delimitation and new rules, officials set a goal of registering roughly 25 lakh additional voters.
What did the order say?
The order issued by Deputy Commissioner (DC) Jammu Avny Lavasa empowered Tehsildars to issue residence certificates to those residing in the Jammu district for more than a year. For the registration of new voters, an Aadhaar card, passport, bank/post office passbook, Kisan Bahi account, rent agreement, house purchase paper, and water/electricity/gas connection will be accepted as the proof of residence, it said.
Political parties had reacted sharply
The move was opposed by regional parties and leaders including Ghulam Nabi Azad. Former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti accused the BJP-led central government of carrying out a "colonial settler project" in the UT. On the other hand, National Conference said, "BJP is scared of the elections & knows it will lose badly. People of J&K must defeat these conspiracies at the ballot box."
DC Jammu's order was flagged by J&K National Conference on Twitter
The Government is going ahead with its plan to add 25 lakh non-local voters in JK and we continue to oppose this move. BJP is scared of the elections knows it will lose badly. People of JK must defeat these conspiracies at the ballot box. pic.twitter.com/U6fjnUpRct— JKNC (@JKNC_) October 11, 2022
Earlier controversy over voting rights to non-locals
The controversy originally started in August when then-chief electoral officer Hirdesh Kumar stated that J&K is set to gain roughly 25 lakh extra voters, including outsiders, as a result of the special brief review of electoral rolls. The statement sparked debate and heated political reactions. However, the government later clarified that the updating of electoral rolls will encompass existing inhabitants of the UT.
J&K may hold assembly polls soon
J&K will likely hold assembly elections by this year-end or the beginning of next, reports said. This will be the first assembly election in the region after Article 370 was repealed and the state was divided into two Union Territories in 2019. The elections will be significant because they will follow various reforms, including delimitation, which increased the number of assembly seats to 47.