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KP body lauds EC for scrapping ‘Form M’

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Urges community to vote in large numbers

Jammu: A Kashmiri Pandit organisation on Friday lauded the Election Commission’s move to scrap the mandatory filing of ‘Form M’ for displaced Kashmiri voters ahead of the parliamentary elections and urged the community to turn up in large numbers for the polls.

Speaking to reporters, R K Bhat, president of Youth All India Kashmiri Samaj (YAIKS), said the Form M process was the biggest hurdle in migrant votes share, resulting in a low turnout in the polls.

Fulfilling a long-standing demand and making changes to the existing voting scheme for the displaced people, the EC on April 11 announced that Kashmiri migrants from Jammu and Udhampur districts of Jammu and Kashmir would no longer be required to fill up ‘Form M’ to cast their votes.

Instead, they shall be mapped with the special polling stations falling in the zones they are registered or residing in, the poll panel had said.

Earlier, the filing of the form was mandatory for displaced voters from the Valley ahead of every parliamentary and Assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir.

In addition, the commission also eased the process of filing Form M by the migrants staying in Delhi and other places in the country, by allowing self-attestation instead of the earlier required certification by Gazetted officers.

“We welcome the abolishment of the mandatory M-Form filing for displaced Kashmiri Pandit voters. This decision will facilitate greater participation and a higher turnout in the polls, ensuring the community’s voice is heard,” Bhat said.

Highlighting the significance of the move, Bhat emphasised the need for 100 per cent voter turnout in the upcoming parliamentary and Assembly elections.

“Our votes are decisive and will determine the outcome of the elections. It is crucial for the community to demonstrate its presence and make a difference through voting,” he added.

Bhat said participation in the election process and casting votes is the victory of democracy and the defeat of separatist forces.

The Lok Sabha polls in the Union Territory will be held in five phases. Voting in the first phase was held in Udhampur Lok Sabha seat on Friday.

Polling in remaining constituencies will be held on April 26 (Jammu), May 7 (Anantnag-Rajouri), May 13 (Srinagar) and May 20 (Baramulla). The counting of votes will be held on June 4.

Bhat also called for a mechanism to conduct elections within the community for the two Assembly seats reserved for Kashmiri migrants. This, he hoped, will allow grassroots leadership to emerge democratically and counter the influence of self-styled leaders and vested interests.

The Lok Sabha in last December passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, which sought to nominate two members from the Kashmiri migrant community and one representing the displaced persons from PoK to the legislative assembly.

YAIKS urged all political parties to include in their manifestos a commitment to help Kashmiri Pandits return and rehabilitate, as well as provide them with political representation in state and central legislatures.

“The whole nation is now asking the Centre to come up with a comprehensive return and rehabilitation plan for the displaced community of Kashmiri Pandits, who have been away from their motherland for the last 34 years,” he added.

The scrapping of the M-Form requirement is seen as a significant step towards facilitating the participation of displaced Kashmiri Pandits in the electoral process, ensuring their voices are heard in the democratic setup, he added.

Announcing the new arrangement, the EC had said it ordered suitable changes to the existing scheme of voting by Kashmiri migrants at special polling stations as part of its ongoing efforts to make electoral participation more inclusive and hassle-free for all sections of society.

It said in a release that the amended arrangement envisages the mapping of all 22 special polling stations — 21 in Jammu and one in Udhampur — to the 21 zones — 20 in Jammu and one in Udhampur — individually, ensuring that every zone has at least one special polling station.

KV News

Kashmir Vision cover all daily updates for the newspaper

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