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Scores of KPs return without voting in Jammu after finding names missing from roll

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NewsDrum Desk
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Jagti (Jammu), May 13 (PTI) Scores of displaced Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu were unable to vote on Monday in the fourth phase of Lok Sabha elections due to their names missing from the electoral rolls.

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Even as KPs lined up across special polling stations in Jammu amid tight security, several of them had to return without casting their vote.

"I came to the polling station with three members of my family to cast our votes despite such heat. We carried our EPIC (Voter ID) cards too. But we found our names missing from the electoral roll. It is a denial of our right to vote," Veena, a resident of Jagti camp and a migrant from the erstwhile Habbakadal area of Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency, said.

She said what's the use of the voter ID card if that is not enough.

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"They (EPIC) should be cancelled by ECI. The government wants us to vote but at the same time has a process that denies us the right to exercise our franchise." Avinash Raina and four of his family members, who hail from erstwhile Budgam area of Srinagar LS seat, also had to return without exercising their franchise.

"We came here to vote. We don't figure in the voting list. What do we do now? Nobody is here to listen to us and resolve the issue," he said.

Kashmiri Pandit Kuldeep Kumar and scores of electors from his colony too had to return without voting from a special polling station set up at the Agriculture office in Talab Tillo.

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"We found here that over 20 people were barred from voting as their names were absent from the voter list. Despite having EPIC cards, they were denied voting. There should be a probe into it," he said.

Surinder Koul, another victim, said "We have raised the issue with the poll authorities…. People are very angry." A Congress leader and president of Jagti tenement committee Shadi Lal Pandita said, the government will be quick to accuse the KPs of not coming out to vote. "But see the ground reality. They have EPIC cards but they do not figure in the lists. It is grave injustice." Assistant Electoral Returning Officer (AERO), Migrants, Dr Riaz Ahmed attributed the problem to old data used to prepare the lists.

"We are aware of this problem. We tried to resolve these issues. We have told polling staff to allow such electors to vote," he said.

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As many as 52,100 Kashmiri migrants are registered as voters from Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency; of these, 25,760 are male voters and 26,340 are female voters, he said.

A total of 26 polling stations have been set up for the migrants, out of which 21 are in Jammu, four in Delhi and one in Udhampur.

"We have set up 21 polling stations in Jammu. In view of the increase in number of voters, we have to set up some more auxiliary polling stations. For the Srinagar constituency, we have increased the number to 23 polling stations," Ahmed said.

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Polling is underway in the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha election in Kashmir's Srinagar constituency, with nearly 17.48 lakh voters eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the fate of 24 candidates.

Voting began at 7 am at all 2,135 polling stations across the constituency, officials said.

Srinagar is witnessing a multi-cornered contest with the National Conference fielding influential Shia leader Aga Ruhullah Mehdi and PDP its youth unit president Waheed Para, besides candidates from Apni Party, DPAP, and 20 others, including two women, in the fray. PTI AB AB VN VN

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