Special Polling Facility For Over 31,000 Kashmiri Pandit Voters

29 April 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Ehsan Fazili

Jammu: More than 31,000 migrant Kashmiri Pandits from Srinagar would exercise their franchise at 18 special polling stations outside the Valley when this Lok Sabha constituency goes to the polls in the fourth phase of elections tomorrow. To facilitate a total of 31,670 migrant voters, 13 polling stations have been set up in Jammu, one in Udhampur and four in Delhi. According to official figures, these migrant voters belong to all the eight Assembly constituencies in Srinagar, five Assembly segments in Budgam and two in Ganderbal district. A total of 1,616 migrant voters, including 707 from Kangan and 909 from the Ganderbal Assembly constituencies, comprise migrant voters from Ganderbal district. 'These are not the correct figures,' Sanjay Tickoo, president of the Valley-based Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti, told The Tribune. He said at least 38,000 migrant families were residing in the Jammu region and over 21,000 more families were registered in other parts of the country. He said the number of Kashmiri Pandits only in the Jammu region could be at least 1.10 lakh. Due to a certain wave in the ongoing elections, a number of Kashmiri Pandits approached the authorities for getting enlisted as voters, Tickoo said and lamented that most of them were not registered leading to protests in the Jammu region. He said many voters had been enlisted in the Jammu region as they resided in different areas following their migration from Kashmir valley over two decades ago. 'One continues to be the voter from his respective constituency in Kashmir. But many of them have been listed as voters in Jammu,' he said. Tickoo said many such voters were casting their votes in both the capacities. He held that voter lists of Pandits in Kashmir were also not updated in the last two Assembly elections. As of now, only about 700 families comprising 2,764 families of Kashmiri Pandits reside in the Valley. Referring to the total electorate in the Habba Kadal Assembly constituency, which comprised a majority of the Pandits, he said these were not updated. The official records reveal that the electorate in 1996 elections was 59,337, 66,782 in 2002 and 49,667 in 2008. These have not been updated as the figures show a huge difference. The electorate in the Habba Kadal constituency presently is 52,790. Vote composition Total electorate in Srinagar is 12,00,739. Total number of migrant voters is 31,670. They are 27,015 from Srinagar, 3039 from Budgam and 1,616 from Ganderbal. Migrant Kashmiri Pandit voters constitute 2.5 per cent of the electorate in Srinagar. The highest number of migrant Kashmiri Pandit voters is 14,892 from the Habba Kadal Assembly constituency of Srinagar.