Important to Make All Communities Feel They’re Fairly Represented: UN Spokesperson

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UNITED NATIONS — It is important to make all communities feel they are being “fairly represented”, a UN spokesperson has said in the context of the Jammu and Kashmir election chief’s announcement that Indian citizens “ordinarily” residing in the union territory can vote in the polls.

“The basic principle that we followed is that for any disputes, it’s important to make sure that all of the communities feel that they are being fairly treated and fairly represented,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq said on Friday.

However, he also said that the announcement “would need to be studied”.

The spokesperson made the remarks in answer to a Chinese government media reporter’s question asserting that the announcement has “sparked anger and fears” that it is an attempt to change the demography of the union territory “which is actually a Muslim-majority region”.

The reporter also claimed that voting rights would be given to “any Indian citizens temporarily living there”.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar said that only those “ordinarily living” there can vote.

Following the abrogation of Article 370 that gave Jammu and Kashmir a special status in August 2019, the laws and regulations that apply to the rest of India also are in force there.

Therefore, as in the case of the rest of India, Indian citizens ordinarily living in Kashmir, as distinct from a visitor, would be eligible to vote there.

The move is controversial with some Kashmiri politicians strongly opposing it.

Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeted that it “is obviously to influence election resultsa and “to disempower locals”. — IANS

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Cover photo: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq.

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