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Nearly 40 per Cent Migrant Kashmiri Pandits turn out to vote in Anantnag-Rajouri

Nearly 40 percent of migrant Kashmiri Pandits cast their ballots in the Anantnag-Rajouri parliamentary constituency during the sixth phase of the Lok Sabha elections on Saturday. This marked a significant increase in voter turnout compared to the 2019, 2014, and 2009 elections. The completion of voting in Anantnag-Rajouri concluded the electoral process in the Union Territory, with polling already concluded in its four other constituencies.

Relief Commissioner Arvind Karwani reported that nearly 40 percent of eligible Kashmiri migrant voters participated in the Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency election. Out of the 27,000 eligible voters in the community, more than 10,000 votes were cast. Polling commenced at 7 am across 34 special polling stations set up for migrant Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu, Udhampur, and Delhi.

These polling stations included 21 in Jammu, four in Delhi, one in Udhampur, and eight auxiliary stations. The voting process was conducted peacefully, as confirmed by Karwani, who supervised the process by visiting various polling stations. Despite a heatwave pushing temperatures to 42 degrees Celsius, many Kashmiri Pandits turned out to vote early in the day.

The strong voter turnout among Kashmiri Pandits demonstrated their support for the creation of townships for their return and rehabilitation. Independent candidate Dilip Pandita staged a brief protest at a polling station in Jagti township, alleging that BJP leaders were directing people to vote for a candidate with the election symbol bat. Pandita protested, demanding the removal of BJP leaders from the polling stations.

Pandita even blocked the vehicle of former BJP legislator and Jammu and Kashmir BJP vice president G L Raina, who had visited the booth. The overall number of votes polled in the Anantnag-Rajouri parliamentary constituency on Saturday was higher than in previous Lok Sabha elections of 2019 and 2014. The constituency saw 51.88 percent polling out of nearly 18.36 lakh voters, including 9.02 lakh women.

Polling was conducted at 2,338 polling stations across the constituency. Twenty candidates are vying for the seat, with the main contest between PDP chief and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and prominent Gujjar leader and former minister Mian Altaf Ahmad of the National Conference (NC). The high voter turnout reflects a significant engagement of the electorate in the political process.

The increase in participation among migrant Kashmiri Pandits is particularly notable, given their historical displacement and the challenges they face. This surge in voter turnout among the community could be seen as a step towards greater political engagement and representation.

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