Kashmiri Pandits vote for peace, ‘secured’ return policy

Anil Bhat
Jagti Camp(Jammu): Living miles away from their homes for the past nearly 25 years, Kashmiri Pandits today voted for establishment of “permanent peace” in Kashmir and a secured return policy that will facilitate their return to and rehabilitation in their native places.
“My vote is for permanent establishment of peace in the Kashmir Valley so that we can return to and resettle in our native places without fear and threat,” Poskhar Nath (87), a voter of Baramulla Lok Sabha seat who cast his vote at the Jagti Camp polling booth here, said.
Nath had to leave his house in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district in February 1990 in the wake of eruption of militancy in the valley.
Hailing from Handwara belt of Kupwara district which is part of the Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency which went to poll today, Nath, who is ailing for past some time, believes that this vote will ensure his return to his native place for permanent rehabilitation before his death.
Like him, Tosha of Baramulla belt also cast her vote for Baramulla LS constituency at the Jagti Camp polling station with a hope that the new government will formulate a return policy with important feature of safety and security to “take us back home to live in our own places in Kashmir”.
“The new government should give us a good rehabilitation package with safety features. Our youngsters should be given more jobs in Kashmir. Traders should be given loans to re-start their business apart from confidence building measures,” Tosha said.
Many youngsters including first-time voters like Deepak Raina of Bandipora and Rozy of Wadipora cast their votes at polling stations in Muthi and Jagati camps not only for permanent rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits but also for a “stable and strong” central government that can deal with the inner and outer challenges that country is facing.
As per the notification of the Election Commission, 18 special polling stations have been set up for Kashmiri Pandit migrant voters in Jammu, Udhampur and Delhi.
“I voted for change… And formation of a strong central government for making the country strong by taking of challenges faced by the people, apart from permanent rehabilitation of our community,” said Deepak of Bandipora.
Over 40 per cent polling was recorded at various polling stations set up for Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu till late this afternoon, Election department officials said.
As many as 18,257 voters belonging to the migrant community are registered for exercising their franchise out of the Kashmir Valley for Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency.
As per EC data, highest number of 8,468 such voters are registered for Kupwara district followed by 8,307 for Baramulla district and 1,482 for Bandipora district.
A total number of 6,187 migrants have opted to cast their vote out of 18,257 registered displaced voters in the seat, they said.
The EC has set up 13 polling stations in Jammu, four in Delhi and one in Udhampur for the Kashmiri Pandits of Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency.

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