Gujjars urge election commission to grant them ‘Postal Voting Rights’

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Jammu, Mar 24: The Gujjars and Bakerwals which constitute largest migratory tribes of Jammu and Kashmir Sunday demanded that Election Commission of India may grant ‘Postal Voting Rights’ to nomadic / semi-nomadic tribes if election of JK state Assembly was going to held after 15th of April or before 15th October. They elaborated that a large chunk of their population will be under seasonal migration during this period. They urged that commission should take cognizance of the matter while announcing the election in the state.
In a meeting of members of tribal groups under the banner of Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation – a frontal organisation today demanded that either the dates of state Assembly election may be fixed before 15th April or after 15th of October or grant special voting rights / postal voting rights to nomadic/ tribal communities of Jammu and Kashmir.
“As per centuries old practise the Gujjars/ Bakerwals along with minor tribal groups like Gaddis/ Sippis/ Changpa migrants and stay in upper reaches of north-western Himalayas during 15th April to 15th October, every year said noted Gujjar Scholar” Dr. Javaid Rahi.
While commenting regarding migratory way of life stated that Gujjars/ Bakerwals , Dr. Rahi said the tribes constitute around 20 lakh people which figures around 20% population of the state and a larger chunk of them are still migratory. Under the traditional bi-annual sessional migration they move towards upper reaches of Himalaya in mid April along with their animals included sheep, goats, horses, buffalos , cows, camels and Dogs and live in upper areas of Shivalik and Peerpanchal and Zojila mountains ranges .They start their back journey to down areas in first week of September, he said.
“It takes around 45 days for each tribal family reach back to their destination with their animals,” he added.
The members of nomadic community further demanded that before announcing the election the Election Commission (EC) may notify migratory / nomadic tribes of Jammu and Kashmir to be eligible for Postal Voting in the state on the prototype of Kashmiri Pandit Voters.
The member of Gujjar Community further demanded that the Election Commission of India must consider our demand on merit as if they denied the right they will move to Court of law to get their rights.
Those who attended the meeting includes Ch Ishtiaq Ahmad Misbah, Shafeeq Choudhary, Bilal Rashid Choudhary, Mudassar Choudhary, Ishfaq Shahzaib, Shahid Ayoob, Abaid ur-Rehman and others