Jammu: Authorities in Jammu on Wednesday 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.
District Election Officer and Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Avny Lavasa passed the directive 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 People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), headed by National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, on Saturday had announced the formation of a 14-member committee to chalk out a strategy on the issue of any attempt of “manipulation and inclusion” of non-locals in the revised electoral rolls.
The panel has members from the five PAGD constituents and several other political parties such as the Congress, the Shiv Sena, the Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Party (DSSP) and the Dogra Sadar Sabha (DSS).
“…Keeping in view the urgency involved in the matter and to ensure that no eligible voter is left for registration during the Special Summary Revision, 2022 in district Jammu, all Tehsildars are authorised to issue certificate of residence after conducting necessary field verifications, to the person(s) residing in district Jammu for more than one year, for the purpose,” Lavasa said in her order.
Quoting the guidelines by the Election Commission of India for registration of the eligible voters, she said it also provides that in case none of the mentioned documents is available, field verification is must.
“As for example, categories like homeless Indian citizens who are otherwise eligible to become electors but do not possess any documentary proof of ordinary residence, electoral registration officers shall designate an officer for field verification…,” the order read.
It said during review meetings taken with the field functionaries including electoral registration officers and assistant electoral registration officers, it has been noticed that some eligible voters are facing hardships in registration as voters for non-availability of documents.
Reacting to the order, the National Conference tweeted,”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.”
Almost all political parties except the BJP have strongly opposed the inclusion of non-locals as voters, an issue that surfaced when the then chief electoral officer Hirdesh Kumar in August said Jammu and Kashmir is likely to get around 25 lakh additional voters, including outsiders, after the special summary revision of electoral rolls being held for the first time after the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019.
Following an outcry, the Union Territory administration later clarified that “this revision of electoral rolls will cover existing residents of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the increase in numbers will be of the voters who have attained the age of 18 years as of October 1, 2022, or earlier”.