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‘Aimed at Disempowering Kashmiris’: J&K Political Parties React to Delimitation Report
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‘Aimed at Disempowering Kashmiris’: J&K Political Parties React to Delimitation Report

“The draft recommendations are bizarre. The panel has gone by its own wish. It’s a sheer mockery of universally accepted and constitutionally established norms of representation.”


SRINAGAR — The mainstream Jammu and Kashmir political parties have rejected the proposed changes in the delimitation draft saying that the report is a mockery of universally accepted and constitutionally established norms of representation and is aimed at dividing the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

The J&K Delimitation Commission has changed the complexion of most of the 90 Assembly seats while reconfiguring and renaming 28 new Assembly constituencies and deleting 19 Assembly segments in its interim report. Besides, it has proposed to redraw all the five Lok Sabha seats.

The interim report suggested that the Kashmir division will get an additional seat in Kupwara, while the Jammu division will have one additional seat in Kathua district, one in Samba, one in Doda, one in Rajouri, one in Udhampur and one in Kishtwar.

Of the six seats, three Assembly segments are from the Muslim-majority Chenab Valley and Pir Panjal valleys, while four are in the Hindu Jammu-Samba-Kathua belt.

Seventeen constituencies have been redrawn in the Jammu province while 11 have been reconfigured in the Kashmir division. Similarly, nine names of Assembly constituencies in the Jammu division have vanished due to the reconfiguration and 10 names disappear from the Kashmir division.

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The Mata Vaishno Devi constituency has been identified as the smallest of all with just 73,648 votes in the Jammu region.

The Commission has advocated a Lok Sabha seat, disjointed geographically, by merging three districts (Kulgam, Anantnag, Shopian) of south Kashmir in the Valley and two districts of Rajouri and Poonch in the Pir Panjal valley in the Jammu province. It will be named Anantnag-Rajouri seat, which will comprise a significant population of non-Kashmiri speaking Schedule Tribe Assembly segments. The newly carved Lok Sabha seat will have six of the nine Assembly segments reserved for the STs.

The Srinagar Lok Sabha seat will now comprise Assembly segments spread over five districts of Srinagar, Budgam, Pulwama, Ganderbal and Shopian against the earlier three.

North Kashmir’s Baramulla Lok Sabha seat will be spread over four districts, which includes parts of Budgam, Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora.

The Jammu Lok Sabha seat will now comprise districts of Jammu, Samba and Reasi. The Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency is spread over five districts against six in the past.

The seats reserved for the Schedule Tribes included Darhal, Thannamandi in Rajouri district; Surankote, Mendhar and Poonch Haveli in Poonch district; and Mahore in Reasi district in the Jammu province’s Pir Panjal Valley. Larnoo in Anantnag, Kangan in Ganderbal, and Gurez are ST seats in the Kashmir province. The Commission has reserved nine seats for the STs and seven for the SCs.

The Jammu and Kashmir National Conference General Secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar on Sunday denounced the delimitation commission’s second draft proposal, saying the party will not accept attempts to “divide” the people of J&K.

Sagar said, “The draft recommendations are bizarre. The panel has gone by its own wish. It’s a sheer mockery of universally accepted and constitutionally established norms of representation,” adding that the party will consult all provincial, zonal, district functionaries before submitting its objections by 14 February. “We will formulate a detailed response to this report based on the inputs from the constituency in charge and submit it to the commission,” he said.

The newly-carved constituencies include, South Srinagar, Larnoo, Anantnag East and West, Chhanapora, Rohama- Rafiabad, Kathua North and South, Jammu South, Udhampur East and West among others.

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Constituencies that are likely to be omitted from the list of Assembly segments include Shangus, Harzatbal, Wachi, Batamaloo, Gulabgarh, Gool Arnas among others.

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As per the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019, seven new constituencies were to be added to the J&K Assembly. Once these proposed additions are made, the total number of Assembly constituencies in J&K will rise to 90 — in Jammu, the number of seats will go up to 43 from 37, and in Kashmir, by one seat to 47.

Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference, in a statement said the party believes that the delimitation process is designed to disempower the people of Kashmir.

“The delimitation commission’s refusal to change its earlier assertions are least surprising,” the party said in a statement, adding, “And as if to add salt to the wounds of the Kashmiris we have a new wondrous invention in the form of a parliamentary constituency invented by merging two regions – South Kashmir and Rajouri. The inhabitants of these two regions have totally different aspirations, the problems and challenges they face are completely different, the topography is different and yet for reasons best known to the commission they actually merged two distinct regions to carve out a single Parliamentary Constituency.”

“The people of Kashmir are going through some of the most troubled times. There seems to be no let up in belittling them and “showing them their place”. Irrationalism is an ugly and a sad constant in the delimitation exercise. And it is not the macro division only. Even when it comes to internal redrawing of the respective constituencies, there is a lot of invention and creation. This whole exercise seems to be an exercise in disruption. They are trying to act as the new disruptors – disrupt the political system, disrupt the political equilibrium and disrupt and confuse the existing political class.”

Meanwhile, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader MY Tarigami said that the commission has proposed “an arbitrary overhaul in the existing territorial constituencies with no regard for even the terrain, let alone the population that tends to be a basic parameter for redrawing the boundaries of assembly and parliamentary segments.”

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