PAGD meet in Jammu, to form committee on issue of inclusion of non-locals as voters
More Jammu based parties join meeting
Jammu: A meeting convened by the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) here on Saturday decided to set up a committee to chalk out the future strategy on the issue of inclusion of “non-locals” in the electoral rolls of Jammu and Kashmir.
Abdullah, a former chief minister, announced the decision after chairing an over three-hour long ‘all party meeting’ under PAGD’s banner at his residence here.
The meeting was attended by the members of all five constituents of the PAGD – PDP, CPI(M), CPI, and Awami National Conference, besides the National Conference – and were represented by former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, M Y Tarigami, Ashwani Kapoor, and Muzaffar Shah, respectively.
J&K Congress president Vikar Rasool Wani and working president Raman Bhalla, Shiv Sena’s Manish Sawhney, Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Party president and former minister Choudhary Lal Singh, Dogra Sadar Sabha president and former minister Gulchain Singh Charak, also attended the meeting.
Mission Statehood Jammu Kashmir president Sunil Dimple and several other Jammu-based social and religious groups also were present.
“The main purpose for the meeting was to discuss the issue of inclusion of non-locals in the voting list of Jammu and Kashmir. Charak sahab put forward a suggestion that a committee should be formed which was unanimously accepted by the participants,” Abdullah told reporters.
He said in line with the suggestion, a committee will be formed to chalk out a strategy and guide them on the future course of action.
On September 5, Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar had convened an all party meeting here to discuss the summary revision of electoral rolls which caused a heated argument between the BJP and opposition leaders, who later claimed that the chair ignored their concerns about inclusion of 25 lakh voters including “outsiders”.
Kumar had in August said Jammu and Kashmir is likely to get around 25 lakh additional voters, including outsiders, after the special summary revision of electoral rolls.
The Union Territory is up for election for the first time since the abrogation of Article 370.
Following the dissensions, the administration had clarified that the revision of electoral rolls will cover existing residents of J&K and the increase in numbers will come from the voters who have attained the age of 18 years as of October 1, 2022, or earlier.
“We are all together to stop the onslaught which is taking place in J&K. This (giving voting rights to people from outside) is the biggest among all and it is not acceptable to us,” Abdullah said.
Referring to the participation of Jammu-based leaders in a meeting convened by the PAGD, he said: “They belong to different ideology or have different agenda but we are all here together on this issue.”
The NC leader alleged all promises made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of a rapprochement have come to null, and new laws are being imposed on the people of J&K “every day”.
“Lt Governor is sitting here … Prime Minister chaired an all-party meeting (in June last year) and a decision was taken that ‘Dilli ki Doori’ as well as ‘Dil Ki Doori’ will be bridged and all prisoners will be released.
“Tell me about anyone who was released, and every day they are implementing new laws. Therefore, all of us here feel that our rights are under attack and we are here to counter this attack,” Abdullah said.
He also alleged there were discrepencies in the statements made by the election official on the increase in the number of voters after the revision.
Abdullah alleged the aim of the BJP is to win the elections with whatever means.
“They want to rule the people … whether they vote or not. They shout on a daily basis that they are going to form the next government as if others are just nothing,” he said.
“Democracy is about people and not power,” he added.
Wani, the Pradesh Congress Committee president, said Congress remains in the forefront, whether it is a part of the PAGD or not, to protect the rights of the people.
“We want the people of J&K to decide their elected representative rather than anyone from outside,” Wani said.
He said they want clarification from the election commission publicly rather than behind the closed doors.
Choudhary Lal Singh said they accepted the invitation to attend the meeting in the “larger interest of the people”.
“We are against voting rights to the people from outside in the assembly elections. They have no business,” he said.
“Since Article 370 is prejudiced, we want extension of Article 371 to J&K to safeguard the land and jobs of the locals,” he added.