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Kashmiri migrants vote for peace, demand scrapping M-forms


Press Trust of India Muthi Camp (Jammu)
Living miles away from their native place for the past three decades, Kashmiri Pandits Monday voted for "restoration of peace" in terror-hit South Kashmir and demanded scrapping of M-forms.
The second phase of the three-phased elections to the Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency took place Monday. The constituency is undergoing polls in three phases due to security reasons.
Meanwhile, Kashmiri migrant voters staged a demonstration outside a special polling station here after several of them found their names missing from the voters list.
They also alleged that the "cumbersome" M-forms were discouraging them from exercising their franchise.
"I voted in support of Modi with a hope that he will facilitate the return of peace to the restive South Kashmir," Avtar Krishen Bhat (78) told PTI.
Bhat, who hails from Kulgam and cast his vote at a special polling station at Muthi, said, "We want to return and resettle in our homeland without fear and threat."

His family had to leave Kulgam in 1990 after two Kashmiri Pandits - a father and son - were killed by terrorists in broad day light.
The septuagenarian credited the Governor administration with bringing down terror activities in this belt. He said there has been a dip in militant recruitment, terrorist attacks, terror funding and stone pelting incidents.
Hailing from Devsar belt of Kulgam district, D P Dhar hopes that the promises made by political parties will finally be a reality after the elections.
Echoing his sentiment, Rajni Koul of Chawalgam belt, who cast her vote at Jagti Camp polling station, said she hopes the new government will formulate a return policy for the Kashmiri migrants.
"The new government should give us a good rehabilitation package with safety features. Our youngsters should be given more jobs in Kashmir. Traders should be given loans to re-start their business apart from initiating confidence-building measures," she said.
Meanwhile, many Kashmiri Pandits demanded scrapping of M-forms.
"The government and ECI should do away with M-forms. We filed up the cumbersome M-forms to exercise our right to vote, but were left dejected at not finding our names in the list," Sarla Razdan said.
The protesters also threatened to boycott the upcoming assembly polls if the poll body continued with the present formalities.
"Kashmiri Pandits (KPs) had filed the necessary M-Forms for voting... the voter list is made available only a day before the polling, leaving several with no option but to return if their names are missing from the list," NC minority cell chairman M K Yogi said.
"If the process of M-forms is not scrapped, KPs will boycott the assembly polls," he added.
Out of over 99,000 registered migrant voters, 38,564 voters are in the Anantnag constituency, officials said.
Many first-time voters also cast their votes at polling stations set up in Muthi and Jagati camps not only for rehabilitation, but also for a "stable and strong" central government.
"Over 64 per cent votes (by Kashmiri migrants) were polled today. As many as 1,784 such voters cast their votes in the second phase, out of a total of 2,779 registered voters, after completing the required formalities," Assistant Returning Officer (ARO) for Migrants, Pankaj Anand told PTI.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and state Congress chief G A Mir are among the 18 candidates whose fate will be decided from the constituency, which has a large number of registered migrant voters.
The Election Commission had set up 21 special polling stations for Kashmiri migrant voters in Jammu, one in Udhampur and four in Delhi.

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First Published: Apr 29 2019 | 10:50 PM IST

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