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Voting important as it authenticates our identity: KP migrants

Issues of unemployment, identity crisis, return resonate among electorate
05:29 AM May 21, 2024 IST | SHUCHISMITA
voting important as it authenticates our identity  kp migrants
Photo: Mir Imran/ GK

Jammu, May 20: “Voting is important for everyone, more so for us as Kashmiri Pandit (KP) community. Of late, we have realised that while spending life as migrants for years now, our vote only authenticates our identity and establishes our link to our roots, back in Kashmir.”


This view found a resonance among a group of Kashmiri Pandit (KP) migrants, including the first-time voters, as they delineated the significance of their right to vote, after casting their votes, during their interactions with the media-persons.


They voted as registered voters of Baramulla parliamentary constituency of Kashmir, at special polling stations, including auxiliary polling stations, set up for KP migrants in different parts of Jammu and Udhampur on Monday.


The constituency went to polls today in the fifth phase of general elections-2024.


Unemployment; identity crisis; return to Kashmir, relief enhancement resonated among the electorate as major poll issues for them. However, the electorate had a divergent view-point regarding return as few advocated separate homeland or townships while others aspired for pre-nineties’ era when they all lived together, strongly tied with a bond of Kashmiriyat.


At Government Higher Secondary School Jagti, a first-time voter Ankita came with a hope that her vote would improve their (KPs’) status. “Government should think about us, our return to Kashmir, with dignity and safety so that we can move around and live life without any fear there. I want our representative to highlight these demands. I also voted for the development of the country.” “For other youth, I would like to request them to come out of their houses to exercise their right to vote. Poll holiday is not for fun-making or chilling out. It’s a call for fulfilling our national duty as a responsible citizen,” she said.


Vikas Raina, who voted at a special auxiliary polling station at Udheywala, said, “To cast a vote is our very special and significant individual right, granted to all the (eligible) citizens by our constitution. For me or for that matter, for many other members of our community, this is also important as this links us to our roots. This gives us our real identity.”


“For me, the individual benefit for voting, at present, is that my voter ID card is the only document with me which bears the address of my homeland (back in Kashmir). My vote will matter irrespective of the fact that I’m casting a vote to whom. This right cannot be abandoned. In any case, in a democracy, this is the only power available with a common citizen,” he said.

The polling stations at Middle School Chinore and Government High School, Muthi too witnessed long queues of migrant voters. Women and first-time voters outnumbered others.

“Yes, this is my first time. Excitement was there. Every individual should vote. For me, the main issue is that there should be development. There is no scope of jobs here. Job opportunities are less here so youth have to go out. Corporate sector should come here. For me, these are major issues,” Sonia Zutshi said.

Aditi Bhat, who cast her vote at Shaheed Captain Tushar Mahajan Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Udhampur, said, “This was my first vote. I felt very good. Officers deployed here helped us a lot. I feel very proud as an Indian that we live in a democratic nation. We can choose a person who can make the laws for us. This gives a mixed feeling of empowerment and pride. I felt very lucky that I could be a part of it today. Future of our country depends on us.”

Notably, two special auxiliary polling stations were set up in Jammu at Udheywala and Jagti-Nagrota.

“My vote is for our nation, for change and to save democracy. We're disappointed as we have been demanding return, jobs, relief, etc. for a long time but there has been no change in our status,” Sunil Koul said.

“We’ve voted to bring back the pre '90 era. We hope our representative will create pressure on the government to accede to our demands and address our issues,” said a voter, who was affiliated to the National Conference.

Keeping in view complaints of missing names in voter lists last time, the Relief Commissioner Arvind Karwani visited different polling stations and took stock of the situation. “People are enthusiastic. We’re making all-out efforts to provide all facilities to them. Given blistering heat, we are making efforts that the voters should not wait for long and that’s why help desks have been strengthened. So far, we have not received any complaint,” he said, while speaking to the media.