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India faces pushback over 'outsiders' voting in Kashmir

Electoral shift seen as attempt to alter Muslim-majority region's demographics

India's policy change would allow non-residents of Jammu and Kashmir, including its soldiers, to register to vote in elections.   © Reuters

SRINAGAR, India -- Local politicians in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir are weighing their options amid concern over a policy change that would allow people temporarily living in the region to vote in elections, fearing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist government is attempting a demographic transformation.

The controversy erupted after the Election Commission of India announced an expansion of voting rights earlier this month. Until now, only permanent residents had been entitled to vote in assembly polls. But the federally appointed electoral officer for the region in the southern city of Jammu estimated that a revision to the electoral rolls could add about 2.5 million more voters to the 7.6 million existing registrants.

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