A new law that allows new residents of India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir to register as voters has angered political parties, which see it as an attempt by India to change the demography of the Muslim-majority region.
India stripped the status of the occupied state in 2019. The new rule, introduced by electoral authorities in one of India-occupied Kashmir’s 20 districts on Tuesday, allows those who have been living there for a year or more to register as voters, in contrast with the earlier rule which enfranchised only people who resided in the region in 1947, or their descendants.
Political parties opposed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party fear that the new rule will be replicated in other districts and say this is an attempt to change demography in favour of Hindus.
“The government is going ahead with its plan to add 25 lakh (2.5 million) non-local voters in J&K and we continue to oppose this move,” the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, one of the main parties in the state, tweeted.
Former chief minister and J&K Peoples Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti also criticised the rule, calling it “an attempt to create religious & regional divisions between Jammu & Kashmir”.