PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday flayed the Election Commission's order for registration of new voters in Jammu, charging that the Centre's "colonial settler project" has been initiated in the region.
The former J-K chief minister said the BJP's alleged attempts to create religious and regional divisions between Jammu and Kashmir must be "thwarted" because "whether its a Kashmiri or a Dogra, safeguarding our identity and rights will be possible only if we put up a collective fight".
"ECI's latest order for registration of new voters makes it clear that GOIs colonial settler project has been initiated in Jammu. They will bear the first blow to Dogra culture, identity, employment & business," she charged on Twitter.
Her remarks come after authorities in Jammu on Tuesday authorised tehsildars (revenue officials) to issue certificate of residence to those residing in the winter capital for more than one year to facilitate their entry in the ongoing special summary revision of electoral rolls.
Talking to reporters in Kulgam district in south Kashmir, Mufti said her party has been saying for the last many years now that the “BJP has an 'illegitimate intent' behind the abrogation of Article 370”.
“Their aim is to change the population ratio in J-K. It will start in Jammu when a sea of people will come to Jammu from outside, which will not only harm the Dogra culture there, but the business, employment and resources there will be attacked. The crime rate there has increased manifold since they opened the doors for the outsiders,” she alleged.
“But, the people of J-K should understand that our future, destiny and our goal is the same. The way the people of Kargil and Leh, Ladakh, foiled the BJP’s divide and rule policy, and stood united to secure their land and jobs, similarly, the people of J-K have to stand united to foil the BJP’s illegitimate intentions, because outsiders, who do not even have a house, will get to vote which means reducing the importance of the vote of the people of J-K,” she said.
Mufti claimed that the delimitation of constituencies in J-K was done in such a way that the BJP benefits from it. “But, despite that, they (BJP) feel the people of Jammu are against them as the people of Jammu have understood that the BJP uses them for their electoral benefits. So, they have come up with this voter law which is nowhere else in the country,” she said.
District Election Officer and Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Avny Lavasa had passed the directive on electoral rolls after taking serious note of some eligible voters facing hardships in registration as voters for non-availability of required documents.
The Special Summary Revision of electoral rolls has been started in the Union Territory with effect from September 15 for registration of new voters, deletion, correction, transposition of voters who have migrated, died since last summary revision, amid serious concern expressed by various political parties over the inclusion of non-locals as voters.
The National Conference (NC) said the BJP is "scared" of the elections and knows it will lose badly.
"The Government is going ahead with its plan to add 25 lakh non-local voters in J&K and we continue to oppose this move. BJP is scared of the elections & knows it will lose badly. People of J&K must defeat these conspiracies at the ballot box," the NC said in a tweet.
Peoples Conference said the DC Jammu’s order on facilitating registration of non-locals as electors was “highly suspicious”.
“The latest order by DC Jammu authorising revenue officials to issue certificate of residence to outsiders residing in Jammu for more than one year is highly suspicious aimed at enabling them to vote. This goes against the SC judgement on the issue.
“The onus of proving our suspicions wrong yet again lies on the ECI and the J&K administration. They must clarify if such a directive is permissible,” the party said on Twitter.
(With PTI inputs)