Union minister Jitendra Singh Thursday asked the Election Commission to simplify the norms to allow migrant Kashmiri Pandits to exercise their franchise during elections. In an over half-an-hour long meeting with Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and other EC officials, he said the voter list of displaced Kashmiri Pandit community members requires to be revised at the earliest.
“Many of the elderly persons who figured in the list at the time of migration during 1989-90 are no more alive, whereas many of the youngsters who have since attained the age of 18 years after displacement, do not figure in the voters list,” he said.
The minister said the ‘M-Form’ requirement for displaced Kashmiri voter involves a tedious process with lot of formalities which ends up in discouraging many of the voters from exercising their franchise.
The Kashmir Pandit migrants have to fill in ‘Form M’ to intimate authorities concerned about location of polling station and city where they want to cast their vote.
“A large percentage of Kashmiri Pandit votes were not cast either because of the inability to fulfil the formalities or the disincentive resulting from the time and energy required in doing so.
“The result of this is that, on the one hand, the legitimate Kashmiri Pandit voters are deprived of their Constitutional right to cast the vote and on the other hand, the election outcome also gets affected,” said Singh, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
Besides Singh, who is also a Lok Sabha member from Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur constituency, Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, senior BJP leader Anil Baluni and representatives of displaced Kashmiri Pandit community led by Sanjay Ganju were present during the meeting.
There are about 62,000 Kashmiri migrant families registered with the government out of which 40,000 were registered in Jammu, 20,000 in the national capital and remaining 2,000 in the rest of the country, as per an official estimate.
The NDA government, after assuming office in 2014, had earmarked Rs 500 crore for rehabilitation of the Kashmiri Pandits who had migrated from the Valley in 1990 following the rise in militancy.