Few days ago, the J & K Electoral Office released the final electoral roll for Jammu and Kashmir with an addition of more than
700,000 names; this exercise the officials claim could pave the way for the first assembly elections in J&K as UT.
Earlier controversies surrounded the inclusion of names in electoral rolls in J&K as the mainstream political parties had blamed the
government for making this exercise to include non locals as voters.
Since 2018, the J&K government is without an elected government and ruled by Lt Governor Post abrogation of Article 370 and
bifurcation of J&K state into two UTs.
The final electoral roll has a total of 8,359,771 electors — 4,291,687 men, 4,067,900 women and 184 transgender people as per the
J&K electoral office that released the final number of electorate.
“There has been a net increase of 772,872 electors in the final electoral roll, i.e. a 10.19% net increase of the registered electors over
the draft roll,” said the government on a statement and termed this as the highest number of increase to include names in the list.
Around 7.6 million voters were published in September, after which election authorities started a special summary revision (SSR)
drive to add names. At the time, then chief electoral officer Hirdesh Kumar Singh courted controversy by saying that the exercise
could add 2.5 million new names. The number of new voters added in the final roll is less.
Though the political parties are still apprehensive that non voters have been included in the list.
During the revision period, officials said that authorities received a record 1.1 million claims. “The gender ratio rose from 921 in the
draft roll to 948 in the final roll, Salgotra added.
He said the photo coverage in the electoral roll remained at 99.99% and that no new entry without a proper photograph was
allowed. There are 57,253 persons with disability in the final electoral roll, an increase of 46% over the draft roll,” the statement
“Though the special summary revision 2022 culminated with the publication of final electoral rolls in the UT on November 25, the
process of continuous updation shall however continue and any eligible citizen who has been left out of the electoral roll can apply
though any of the modes of registration,” the statement further mentioned.
The publication of the rolls is important because it is seen as the final step before assembly elections, the first in the region in six
years, and the first since its special status and statehood were scrapped.
But the process ran into controversy in August after the authorities opened the application for new voters. Under the rules, people
who turned 18 since the last update in the rolls could apply.
Also eligible were people who were living in a particular district for more than a year. The move was in line with the electoral laws in
the rest of the country, where only ordinary residence is enough to obtain a voter card, not permanent residence that was earlier
required in Jammu and Kashmir before its special status was scrapped three years ago.
But the decision sparked a political controversy with leaders of many political parties terming it the beginning to change of
demography in J&K. However now the leadership in J&K after release of new electoral rolls seems to have toned down their
rhetoric. PAGD spokesman Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, reacting to the new voter inclusion, said they need to study whether non-
locals have been included in this process. “We are studying the process closely.”
NC chief spokesman Tanvir Sadiq said now the process has finished the government should now announce polls. “For four years
people of J & K have been deprived of people’s government. So this process should now begin.”
Apni party president Altaf Bukhari also hoped that now J&K should go for elections. “Now there is no excuse which will stop the
government from holding assembly polls in J&K.”