Out of nine scheduled tribe [ST] seats reserved by the delimitation commission in a set up to redraw the assembly seats of Jammu and Kashmir, four seats have been reserved for Kashmir, while five of the seats have been kept reserved for Jammu province.
According to the sources, the four ST seats that have been kept reserved in Kashmir include one from Pahalgam, Kokernag, Bandipora and Kangan constituency.
All the five ST seats kept reserved for Jammu province belong to Rajouri and Poonch district which has the large population of Gujjar-Bakarwal tribe.
Meanwhile, all the seven Scheduled Caste [SC] seats are kept reserved for Jammu province only.
The delimitation commission, set up to redraw the assembly seats of the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, is learnt to have proposed six additional seats for Jammu region and one for Kashmir Valley in its ‘Paper 1’ discussed with its five associate members on Monday.
As per the reports, nine seats have been proposed for Scheduled Tribe [ST] and seven for Scheduled Caste [SC] in Jammu and Kashmir. This is the first time that seats have been proposed for STs in Jammu and Kashmir.
Similarly, as per the draft proposal the panel has proposed to increase one assembly seat each in Kathua, Samba, Udhampur, Doda, Kishtwar and Rajouri districts in the Jammu region. And one assembly seat in Kupwara district.
The Jammu and Kashmir as a whole had a total of 111 seats; with 24 reserved and vacant for Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK), while J-K would hold elections for 87 seats, including four from Ladakh, after a six-year term, unlike the rest of the India where assemblies have a five-year term.
With the proposed, the total assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir have risen to 90. In Jammu, the number of seats has gone up to 43 from 37, and in Kashmir, by one seat to 47.
The proposal was not well received by the mainstream political parties in the valley who termed the recommendation “unacceptable” and “unfair” to the people of Kashmir.
Sources said that all the nine ST reserved seats in Jammu and Kashmir would be made rotational with delimitation commission taking the call on the reservation before every assembly polls.
The delimitation commission has prepared the recommendation as per census 2011 by which J-K has a population of 1.25 crores, with 68.8 lakhs in Kashmir division and 53.5 lakhs in Jammu division.
The commission, under the J&K Reorganization Act, 2019, is mandated to carve out seven more constituencies to the 83-member UT Assembly. The J&K Delimitation Commission came into existence under provisions of Part V of the J-K Reorganization Act, 2019 and Delimitation Act, 2002, passed by the Centre in August 2019 along with other J-K-specific Bills.
The delimitation commission is headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai. Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra is an ex-officio member of the panel.
Talking to The Kashmir Walla, National Conference [NC] Member of Parliament [MP] Justice (rtd) Hasnain Masoodi said that there was no mention of ST and SC reservation in the proposal draft of the delimitation commission.
“The first draft which is called Paper 1 only gives you an overview of the proposal of the new assembly seats arrangement without mentioning the names of the areas where seats are added,” Masoodi said. “Similarly, no specific information is mentioned about ST and SC reservations.”
Meanwhile, Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) has decided to hold a peaceful demonstration on 1 January 2022 in protest against the recommendation of the delimitation commission.