Pakistani Hindu migrants settled in Rajasthan, who had earlier decided to boycott the assembly elections, cast their vote on Sunday. They had vowed to use the ‘none of the above’ option, introduced for the first time in Rajasthan this election season, but later changed their mind.
“As both the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party have included our issues in their manifesto and promised to resolve them, the Pakistani Hindu migrants are voting today. They are exercising their power with free will and there is no pressure to vote in favour of one party or against anyone,” said Hindu Singh Sodha, president of Seemant Lok Sangathan, an organisation working for the welfare of Hindu migrants from Pakistan.
There are around 3.75 lakh Pakistani Hindu migrants in the state, but a majority of them stay in Barmer, Jodhpur and Bikaner districts. Among them 1.25 lakh are voters. These voters can influence the results in at least six assembly constituencies including Chohtan, Barmer, Shive, Kolayat, Kajuwala and Soorsagar.
Sodha claims that there are around 25,000 voters in the Chohtan constituency, the largest congregation in among the six districts.
Since 2012, the migrated population has held several rallies and is fighting to resolve issues related to their citizenship and rehabilitation.
Image: Voters head to the polling booth to cast their ballot in Rajasthan
Photograph: Chandra Mohan Aloria