29 Oct : Displaced from the Valley by militancy, over 72,000 Kashmiri Pandits will be able to exercise their right to franchise at 14 polling stations in Jammu, Udhampur and Delhi set up by the Election Commission apart from facility of postal ballots.
"As they are far away from home constituencies, 72,713 displaced Kashmiri Pandits would be able to vote through Electronic voting Machines (EVMs) directly at 14 different police across the country," Deputy Chief Electoral Officer (DCEO) Harcharan Singh said.
The Kashmiri Pandits can directly vote through EVMs at the stations apart from the postal ballot paper facility being made available to them, he said.
Singh said after the voters’ list was updated on 1st January 2008, there are 72,713 migrant voters from the community, out of which Srinagar district had the highest– 23,796.
Nine polling station have been setup in Jammu at Women college Gandhi Nagar, Canderbaga community centre canal road, Directorate School Education Muthi, community centre Purkhoo, Economics and statistics department Janipur, Agriculture office Tallab Tilloo, Migrant School Roopnagar, community Hall Nagrota and community Hall Mishriwala.
One polling station will be set up a District Industries centre building at Udhampur.In Delhi, Kashmir Pandits will be able to cast there votes at four places — Kashmir house Prithviraj road, deputy director horticulture, Shalimar Bagh, SDM office Najafgarh, community centre Dilshad Garden.
With the electoral rolls being updated, J&K Relief Commissioner Department said the community members can come to its four main offices in Jammu, Udhampur and Delhi to register as voters.
The J&K election department has also asked those seeking to vote through postal ballots to apply for these at the four offices.Kashmir Pandits outfits by and large have welcomed polls except Panun Kashmir, an organisation demanding "home land" with union territory status in Kashmir for the community.
Having decided to contest over 15 seats in the valley, Jammu and Kashmir National United Front (JKNUF) kicked off its campaign from Nagrota migrant camp on 24th October.
"We have decided to take part in the assembly elections as the only Kashmiri Pandits’ political party and contest over 15 seats in Kashmir valley. We have already started campaigning," president of JKNUF A K Dewani said.
He said the JKNUF had registered itself with the Election Commission last month and the party would advocate the cause of displaced Kashmiri Pandits.
Over 20 community leaders, including former MLA Raman Mattoo, former state chief secretary, Vijay Bakaya, businessman Moti Koul and former bureaucrat Vijay Koul are set to contest elections from Habba Kadal, Amirakadal, Batmaloo, Devsar, Anantnag, Sopore, Baramulla, Sonawari and Idgah constituencies respectively in Kashmir valley.