An "all-party" meeting presided over by National Conference (NC) chief Farooq Abdullah was held on Monday, 22 August, to discuss the inclusion of "non-local voters" in the electoral rolls of Jammu and Kashmir.
The meeting was attended by People's Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti, J&K Congress chief Vikar Rasool, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader MY Tarigami, and leaders from the Shiv Sena.
However, Sajad Lone's People’s Conference and Altaf Bukhari's Apni Party did not attend, news agency PTI reported.
"We all parties are against this new law. We are also thinking about going to court over this," Abdullah was quoted as saying by ANI.
"We'll invite the leaders of all national parties to Jammu and Kashmir in September and keep our issues before them," the NC leader added.
The decision to include 25 lakh new voters in J&K, including outsiders, was announced by Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar, drawing condemnation by several leaders.
The PDP activists also tried to take out a march towards the office of the State Election Commission. However, they were stopped by police and returned after covering some distance.
They were seen chanting anti-Bharatiya Janata Party slogans and carrying placard which read “Stop discrimination and imported voters unacceptable."
Rastriya Bajrang Dal activists also torched an effigy of Abdullah for convening the meeting in Srinagar on the issue of inclusion of non-local voters.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also held a meeting in the Union Territory to deliberate on a counter-strategy against the NC-led meeting.
'They Are Spreading Propaganda To Disturb the Peace': BJP
The BJP targeted the NC, PDP and others for raising the issue of “inclusion of non-local voters” in the revised electoral rolls, alleging that they were spreading propaganda to disturb the peace in the Union Territory.
“The Representation of the People Act was implemented across the country in 1950 and was extended to J-K after the abrogation of Article 370 (in August 2019). The revision of electoral rolls is taking place in accordance with the Act,” BJP's J-K unit president Ravinder Raina said.
He further added that the people of the UT have shown that they love their country when they hoisted the Tricolour at their homes to mark the completion of 75 years of independence.
'Misrepresentation of Facts': J&K Admin
However, the J&K administration said that reports of the likely addition of lakhs of new voters was a "misrepresentation of facts by vested interests."
Dissatisfied with the clarification, the NC decided to conduct the meeting, saying that the administration had not addressed their main concern regarding whether "outsiders" will be allowed to cast their ballots.
Explaining why he wouldn't be a part of the meeting, Lone said, "One lady (Mehbooba Mufti) says call an all party meeting and the other makes (phone) calls for it. Also tell me, how much can we pretend? We abuse each other politically 24 hours a day. I have hurled abuses at them yesterday, they have done it day before. How long can we pretend that everything is hunky dory."
However, he added that if anything productive comes out of the meeting, his party would support it.
(With inputs from PTI.)