40 pc polling by Kashmiri migrants in Delhi, Jammu
26 April 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent
Jammu: About 40 per cent Kashmiri migrant voters cast their ballot at special polling stations for Srinagar, Badgam Constituency here today. The Election Commission has set up four special polling stations for the migrants from the Srinagar Constituency to enable them to take part in the democratic process. The highest turn out was recorded at the J K House here at 47 per cent while at Tis Hazari, Dilshad Garden and Najafgarh witnessed 37 per cent, 35 per cent and 24 per cent polling respectively. Tight security arrangements were put in place jointly by the Delhi Police and the J and K Police for smooth and fair conduct of polling. Escorts were provided by security agencies for carrying EVMs to the polling stations and back. While Srinagar went to polls today, the postal ballots could be sent to the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer anytime before May 13, the day of counting. For this purpose the Department of Post and Telegraph has made special arrangements for receiving the postal ballots by setting up a special letter box at the J and K House, 5 Prithviraj Road. In Jammu 44.4 per cent Kashmiri migrants exercised their franchise at eight special polling stations today. This was stated by Dharam Paul Liaison Officer with ARO, Migrants, Jammu. The highest turn out was reported from Mishriwala Camp were out of 110 registered migrant voters 74 turned up for casting their ballot. It was followed by Nagrota Camp where out of 152 migrant voters 102 cast their vote. Two hundred and seventeen voters out of 692 cast their ballot at Janipur Polling Station, while 210 out of 422 turned up at Polling Station Muthi. At Gandhi Nagar 101 migrants out of 238 cast their vote, while 171 people out of 377 turned up at Chander Bagha Community Centre Canal Road, to exercise their franchise. One hundred and twenty out of 202 votes were polled at Purkhoo Migrant Camp, while 85 out of 259 voters turned up to cast their ballot at Talalb Tillo Polling booth. Our Udhampur Correspondent reports that over 45 per cent polling was reported in Udhampur district for the Srinagar, Badgam seat where a special polling booth for Kashmiri migrants was set up at Battal Balian Camp. According to R C Sharma, ARO for Migrants Udhampur out of 79 votes 37 voters turned up to poll their ballot at Battal Ballian Camp, Polling Station today. However, some migrants alleged that despite filling up the M Forms in time their names did not figure in voters lists. One Rakesh Tickoo who had come to cast his vote at Chanderbagha Community Centre, told this reporter that his name did not figure in the voters list though he had filed the M Form in time. He said out of six voters of his family who had cast the vote in 2002 Assembly elections, only three were included in the list this time. Rakesh said that being a Government employee he kept the leave in office to exercise his right to franchise , but he felt disgusted when he found his name missing in the list at Polling booth. Later Rakesh along with other colleagues brought the matter in the notice of the Election Observer for Migrants on whose intervention he along with his other family members was allowed to cast the vote. Same was the complaint of Surjit Singh from Gupkar Road Srinagar who is putting up as a migrant at Jammu. Mr Singh who also possess the voters identity card issued by the authorities had to return without casting the vote from the Chander Bagha, Polling Station as his name was missing in the voters list. Same allegation was made by the Satish Kumar who had come to cast his vote at Muthi Polling Station. Terming the election process for migrants totally cumbersome, Satish demanded cancellation of M Forms. He said the migrants be allowed to exercise their right of franchise on the basis of Identity Cards and ration cards. Echoing the same views Makhan Lal Bhat another migrant who had come to cast his vote at Janipur Polling Station alleged that his community members had to complete many formalities for taking part in election process. This is the main reason of low turnout, he added . He criticised the Government for not paying any heed to migrants plea in this regard. He said it is regrettable that out of over 60,000 migrant voters in the Srinagar, Badgam Constituency about two thousand have exercised their franchise today. This is the only the three per cent of total votes, he added. Mr Bhat said that the names of many bonafide voters were also missing in the voters lists at Mishriwala, Purkhoo and Nagrota.