Srinagar: The delimitation commission proposal to add six additional assembly seats for Jammu and one seat in Kashmir was not well received by the mainstream political parties in the valley.
All the major political parties termed the commission’s recommendation “unacceptable” and “unfair” to the people of Kashmir.
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.
Talking to The Kashmir Walla from Delhi over phone, Justice (rtd) Hasnain Masoodi said that the commission has given them a draft and provided 10 days time to raise our concern on the recommendation.
“The commission told us that they have made the recommendation based on the 2011 census and all the decisions on the delimitation process would be taken based on the supreme court guidelines,” Masoodi said.
Masoodi said they raised the concern over the commission’s proposal and made it clear in the meeting that the recommendation is not in sync with the Indian constitutional framework.
“We told them that the recommendation is unconstitutional and we are not satisfied with it, as it is injustice with the Kashmir valley,” he said. “It was only after we raised the objection that the commission put the proposal on hold for 10 days to submit our response against it.”
The associate members of five Lok Sabha members from Jammu and Kashmir that include NC leader Farooq Abdullah and Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi attended the delimitation meeting on Monday.
NC had earlier boycotted the meeting of the panel held in February terming its participation endorsing the 5 August 2019 decision [Abrogation of Article 370].
National Conference [NC] vice-president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah terming the recommendation “unacceptable” said that the distribution of newly created assembly constituencies with six going to Jammu and only one to Kashmir is not justified by the data of the 2011 census.
Taking to the social media, Abdullah said that the commission has allowed the political agenda of the Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] to dictate its recommendations rather than taking into consideration the 2011 census.
“The draft recommendation of the J-K delimitation commission is unacceptable. It is deeply disappointing that the commission appears to have allowed the political agenda of the BJP to dictate its recommendations rather than the data which should have been it’s only consideration,” Abdullah said. “Contrary to the promised “scientific approach” it’s a political approach.”
As per census 2011, J-K has a population of 1.25 crores, with 68.8 lakhs in Kashmir division and 53.5 lakhs in Jammu division.
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.
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 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.
Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] chief and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said that her apprehensions about the delimitation commission “weren’t misplaced”.
“My apprehensions about the delimitation commission werent misplaced. They want to pitch people against each other by ignoring the population census & preposing 6 seats for one region & only one for Kashmir [sic],” Mehbooba tweeted.
Mehbooba said the commission has been created simply to serve BJPs political interests by dividing people along religious & regional lines.
“The real game plan is to install a government in J&K which will legitimise the illegal and unconstitutional decisions of August 2019,” she said.
Peoples Conference [PC] chief Sajad Lone said that recommendations of the delimitation commission is a “shock” for those who believe in Indian democracy.
“The recommendations of the delimitation commission are totally unacceptable. They reek of bias. What a shock for those who believe in democracy [sic],” Lone said while taking to micro-blogging site Twitter.
Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) president Altaf Bukhari said that the delimitation commission proposal that was tabled on Monday is against the law and mandate of the commission.
Bukhari said that the commission has not taken into consideration the 2011 census while drafting the proposal.
“We will appeal before the Government of India [GoI] against the implementation of delimitation commission recommendations. And we are hopeful that the GoI would intervene and do justice with people of Kashmir,” Bukhari.
Bukhari also took a dig at the NC for participating in the meeting and endorsing the work of the delimitation commission.
Following a delimitation commission’s meeting, Union Minister Jitendra Singh who also attended the meeting, said that NC leaders got satisfied with the” parameters” that are being followed by the commission.
Speaking to media persons, Singh said that all the associate members committed themselves to cooperate with the functioning of the commission.
Singh said NC members were also satisfied with the parameters which were being followed by the delimitation commission.
“The associated members regardless of their party and political affiliations not only appreciated the work done by the delimitation commission but also committed that they would in the future also extend their cooperation for the rest of the exercise,” he said.
Reacting to the reported delimitation panel proposal, the Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) said there are laid down criteria available before the Commission, which has to be followed prior to the finalization of delimitation process and proposed additional seats.
The party also sought that the panel must keep under its consideration the topographies, backwardness and other constraints in the regions before moving ahead with regard to the delimitation process in Kashmir as well as in Jammu.