This comes two days after Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar said that J&K is likely to get around 25 lakh additional voters, including outsiders, after the special summary revision of electoral rolls was held for the first time since the abrogation of Article 370.
Several PDP leaders led by the party's chief spokesperson Suhail Bukhari took out the march from the party's head office near Sher-e-Kashmir Park.
After the announcement, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti had said in a tweet, “GOIs decision to defer polls in J&K preceded by egregious gerrymandering tilting the balance in BJPs favour & now allowing non locals to vote is obviously to influence election results. Real aim is to continue ruling J&K with an iron fist to disempower locals.”
Meanwhile, J&K Peoples Conference's Sajad Lone had said, "This is dangerous. I don't know what they want to achieve. This is much more than a mischief. Democracy is a relic especially in the context of Kashmir."
Rights of the People of J&K Are Being ‘Trampled’
Bukhari said the protest was against the “electoral demographic change being forced by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)” through inclusion of “imported voters” in the J-K electoral rolls.
Stating that the rights of the people of J-K are being “trampled,” he added, “They started the process of taking away the peoples' rights and diluting public will here on 5 August 2019 and now they have added a new chapter to it by saying they will add non-local voters.”
“They are trying hard to change the identity, democratic rights, and electoral demography of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, but it is not acceptable to the people of Jammu and Kashmir under any circumstances,” Bukhari told reporters.
Adding that the party leaders wanted to register a peaceful protest to reiterate what their president Mehbooba Mufti said on Thursday, Bukhari said, “This is an attempt to send a message that the people of Jammu and Kashmir will not tolerate this.”
Meanwhile, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah has called for an all-party meeting at his residence on 22 August at 11 am, to deliberate on the issue.
Details of the Controversial Exercise
Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar described the ongoing exercise to complete the special summary revision of electoral rolls by 25 November as a "challenging task."
The massive exercise is going on to ensure that all the eligible voters, including those who will attain the age of 18 years on 1 October 2022 or earlier are enrolled to provide an "error-free" final list, the chief electoral officer told reporters.
According to the rescheduled timeline issued by the election commission recently, an integrated draft electoral roll will be published on 15 September, while the period for filing claims and objections was set between 15 September and 25 October and their disposal by 10 November.
He said the projected 18-plus population of J&K is around 98 lakhs, while the number of enlisted voters are 76 lakh, according to the last voter list.
Kumar said there is no need for a person to have a domicile certificate of J&K to become a voter.
"An employee, a student, a labourer or anyone from outside who is living ordinarily in J&K, can enlist his or her name in the voting list. The documents will be scrutinised by government officials concerned who will take a decision after being satisfied about the claim."Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar.
He said like in the past, J&K residents working in security forces and posted outside the Union Territory can register as service voters and avail the facility of postal ballot.
(With inputs from PTI.)