Srinagar : The elections to be held in the eight phases of the District Development Council will also bring happiness on the face of Western Pakistani refugees. For the first time in seven decades, they will be able to vote in panchayat level elections in the state. There is excitement among refugee families following the announcement by State Election Commissioner KK Sharma.
There are about twenty-two and a half thousand families of refugees from West Pakistan living in Jammu and Kashmir. They have a population of more than one and a half lakh and about one lakh voters. Under Article 370, refugee families had the right to vote only in the Lok Sabha elections. They did not have the right to cast votes, whether it was assembly elections or local bodies and panchayat elections.
After the abolition of Article 370, the refugees of Pakistan have also got the right to vote in the elections to be held in the district development council in the state. State Election Commissioner KK Sharma said that the refugees of West Pakistan can also vote. Members of these families are not yet registered as voters. They should also get themselves registered soon.
Labba Ram Gandhi, president of the Organization of Refugees of West Pakistan, said that the day he had been waiting for seven decades has now come. Apart from getting citizenship, now there is enthusiasm among the youth by getting the right to vote in every election. They will express their happiness singing and dancing on Thursday in its office at Swankha Morh in Samba district.