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Delimitation panel’s recommendations divisive, unacceptable; will stage protest on Jan 1: PAGD

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Jammu: The recommendations of the Delimitation Commission on Jammu and Kashmir are “divisive and unacceptable”, the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) said on Tuesday and announced a peaceful protest in Srinagar on January 01.

The Delimitation Commission, set up to redraw the Assembly seats of the union territory, is learnt to have proposed six additional seats for the Jammu region and one for the Kashmir Valley in its ‘Paper 1′ discussed with its five associate members – three parliamentarians of the National Conference (NC) and two of the BJP from Jammu and Kashmir – in New Delhi on Monday.

“We want peace and do not want any confrontation with any institution or government. However, we will raise our voice for the defence of legitimate rights of the people in a peaceful manner and have decided to hold a peaceful demonstration in Srinagar on January 01 against the proposal put forward by the Delimitation Commission as in our view, the draft is unacceptable to the people and all communities,” PAGD chief spokesperson and CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami told reporters here.

This was the second meeting of the PAGD in Jammu since the five-party amalgam was formed in 2019 to seek the restoration of special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir that was revoked by the Centre in August that year.

On the Delimitation Commission’s recommendations, Tarigami said, “We are firmly of the opinion that it (proposal) is divisive and will further deepen the divide in Jammu and Kashmir.”

“It will also deepen the alienation of the people and will create a much bigger void which is also detrimental to the interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as well and will also damage the interests of the country as a whole,” he said after the over an hour-long meeting chaired by NC president and PAGD chairperson Farooq Abdullah.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and Awami National Conference leader Muzaffar Ahmad Shah also attended the meeting at Abdullah’s Bhatindi residence.

“We have decided to use every opportunity and every forum and will reach out to the people of the country, leaders of political parties, including those who do not agree with us, and make them understand the pain we are going through,” Tarigami said.

“We regret that the constitutional framework for such an exercise, which is the population according to the census, was completely ignored,” he said.

The Kashmir division currently has 46 Assembly seats and the Jammu region 37. The population of Jammu region is 53.72 lakh and Kashmir division 68.83 lakh, according to the census of 2011 which has been the baseline for the commission.

Referring to the petitions filed by various political parties in the Supreme Court against the Reorganisation Act and revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, Tarigami said, “We have all along demanded delimitation in accordance with the national exercise”.

“What they have done (in 2019) was a unilateral and unconstitutional decision without taking the real stakeholders on board. We have already challenged it in the Supreme Court. The government should have waited for the decision of the court but they set up the Delimitation Commission. They are in haste which is neither in the interest of the nation nor the public,” he said.

Claiming that the Constitution and the law are not operative in Jammu and Kashmir, the PAGD leader said the BJP is trying to mainstream Jammu and Kashmir on its own terms and is taking decisions that are “detrimental to national unity and will harm the peoples’ aspirations”.

Tarigami said the PAGD is not representing one region or one community but is a platform for “all communities, regions, sub-regions, Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh”.

NC leader and MP Hassnain Masoodi told reporters after the PAGD meeting that the party will file its objections to the panel’s recommendations with documentary evidence within the next 10 days.

“We have already informed the commission in the meeting itself that the whole exercise is not in accordance with the Constitution and offends its core values.

“There are petitions (with regard to the reorganisation of J&K) pending in Supreme Court… the chairperson of the commission presented the interim draft proposal, to which we strongly objected and made it clear that it is not acceptable. We asked the commission what is the baseline for the report and were told that (it is the) 2011 census,” he said.

The NC leader said after “our strong objection, the commission gave us 10 days’ time till the month-end to file our objections.”

Meanwhile, a small group of Rashtriya Bajrang Dal activists led by their president Rakesh Bagrangi staged a protest a few kilometers from the venue of the PAGD meeting.

Bagrangi said they are protesting against the PAGD leadership for holding their meeting in Jammu as “they are a group of traitors”.

“We were in favour of all the seven seats going to the Jammu region to end discrimination with the region,” he said.

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