India to register up to million voters in contested Kashmir.
SRINAGAR, India, Aug 17 (Reuters) – India is expected to register as many as 2.5 million new voters in the contested Jammu and Kashmir region, a top official said late on Wednesday, in a move local political parties said was an attempt to influence upcoming elections.
The Muslim-majority region is claimed in full but ruled in part by nuclear arch-rivals India and Pakistan, who have fought two wars over control of the territory.
India stripped semi-autonomy from its portion of the region in 2019, changing the Indian constitution to allow non-Kashmiris to vote and own land there.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar told reporters on Wednesday that more than 2 million new voters are expected to be enrolled in the region ahead of local polls due in November. The new registrants could increase the voter count by more than a third, adding to the existing 7.6 million voters in the region.
Kashmiris fear the rule changes will allow the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to alter the demographics of the region, quelling a decades-long independence movement.
“Allowing non-locals to vote is obviously to influence election results. Real aim is to continue ruling J&K with an iron fist to disempower locals,” she said in a tweet.
French President Emmanuel Macron discussed via telephone on Tuesday the crisis in Ukraine with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the two agreed to work together to try to end the conflict, said the French presidency.
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