Disenchanted Kashmiri Voters Shy-away From Enrollment

Disenchanted Kashmiri Voters Shy-away From Enrollment

25 March 2014
Greater Kashmir
Umer Maqbool

Srinagar: Despite significant lead in Kashmir's population over other parts of the State, its electoral populace is only six percent more than Jammu region, indicating the level of disenchantment towards voter registration here. According to official data, Kashmir province excluding Ladakh has 12 percent more population than Jammu. But the voter strength in Kashmir is just six percent more than Jammu province, signifying lack of enthusiasm among masses particularly younger generation towards the electoral process. Of the State's total population, Kashmir constitutes 55.04 percent whereas Jammu and Ladakh comprise 42.63 and 2.31 percent respectively. This means Kashmir's total population is 12 percent more than Jammu. Both the regions have equal number of districts - 10 each. According to 2011 census, JK has total population of 12548926 souls. Of which, 6907623 are in Kashmir, 5350811 in Jammu and 290492 in Ladakh. In comparison, the electoral population of Kashmir is only six percent more than Jammu region. According to the latest summary revision of electoral rolls, Kashmir constitutes 51.87 percent of state's total electoral population whereas the share of Jammu and Ladakh rests respectively at 45.81 and 2.30 percent. JK has total electoral strength of 6933118 persons. Of which, Kashmir has 3596796 voters whereas Jammu and Ladakh respectively have 3176373 and 159949 voters. An official while pointing to lukewarm response towards voter registration in Kashmir said that Srinagar has the least number of fresh voters. 'There are only 6000 voters between the age group of 18-19 in eight assembly segments of Srinagar, which is phenomenally low compared to other districts of the state,' he said. He added that in Habba Kadal constituency the number of voters in this age group is a minimal 331. According to observers, the variation between the electoral population and the actual population in Kashmir clearly demonstrates disillusionment of Kashmiris towards voter registration. 'It is an open secret that Kashmiris have become dissatisfied with the electoral process since 1987 due to massive rigging of the polls then,' they said. 'But this low voter registration also acts as a double edged sword as the figures are used by some elements in Jammu to demand delimitation of constituencies.' 'The voter registration, however, should not be mixed with voting as these are poles apart,' they said. According to them, Bharatiya Janta Party, Panthers Party and even Congress is pressing hard for delimitation of assembly constituencies in the state to end the upper hand of Kashmir in government-formation by having more constituencies in Jammu region. At present, Kashmir has 46 constituencies while 37 and four Assembly segments respectively are in Jammu and Ladakh. In 2002, the State Government froze the delimitation exercise till 2026. The move's legality has been upheld by both the High Court and Supreme Court.