Will Go on Hunger Strike if Non-locals Enrolled as Voters in J-K: Sajad Lone

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Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone on Monday said his party will hold protests, including going on hunger strike, outside all constitutional institutions of the country if any non-locals were enrolled as voters in Jammu and Kashmir. The former minister, who was an ally of the BJP till 2018, distanced himself from a meeting convened by National Conference president Farooq Abdullah to discuss the issue of non-local voters, saying the effort was not a serious as it was being held publicly.

We will wait till 1st October when the draft electoral rolls are published. If there is any wrongdoing … if the electoral demography is sought to be changed, we will hit the streets, not only here but in front of all constitutional institutions of the country like Parliament. We will go on hunger strike. This battle cannot be fought here…We have to make people of India aware about what is happening, Lone told reporters here. Referring to the clarification of the union territory administration on the issue of non-local voters, he said, We neither accept nor reject the clarification in totality.

Lone, who was accompanied by party leader and former law secretary of Jammu and Kashmir Mohammad Ashraf, said under the Constitution of India, enrolling outsiders as voters in Jammu and Kashmir was not possible. If we go by interpretation of Ashraf sahib about the relevant law, there is no possibility of enrolling such huge numbers of non-locals as voters in Jammu and Kashmir by 1st October, unless the government wants to do it. So it is not the law which is a threat to us, we are scared of those who are implementing the law.

On test here is the intentions of those who are as on date running the state here or from the union government. We will wait till then, he added. Elaborating on the reasons for opting out of the all party meeting, Lone said it should have been held in a discreet manner.

If this effort (all party meeting) was serious, it would not be held under media gaze. Had it been serious, we would have met and you (media) would not even know about it. I don’t agree with politics of Farooq Abdullah but I have immense respect for him, Lone said. He said the all party meeting seemed to be a point-scoring exercise and he would not want to be a part of it.

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, he said. Mehboobaji, desperate to retrieve her (lost) ground, issues diktat for calling all party meeting …. Maharaja Hari Singh’s era has long gone by, he added.

Lone, however, said if anything concrete came out of the all party meeting, his party will support it wholeheartedly and expected reciprocal attitude from the participants in meeting for his efforts to deal with the issue of non-local voters. Abdullah had called the meeting to discuss the issue of “inclusion of non-local voters” in the electoral rolls in Jammu and Kashmir after remarks related to the addition of voters in the revised rolls by the UT’s Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar raised hackles of the regional parties. The government on Saturday last issued a clarification, saying the reports of a likely addition of over 25 lakh voters after the summary revision of electoral rolls is a “misrepresentation of facts by vested interests”.

Dissatisfied with the clarification issued by the Jammu and Kashmir administration on issues related to revised electoral rolls, the National Conference and PDP said they will go ahead with the meeting. They claimed the administration has not addressed their main concern on whether ”outsiders” ordinarily residing in J-K will be allowed to enroll as voters.

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