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Cong stages protest against delimitation commission in Jammu

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BJP accuses Cong of unleashing ‘propaganda' against commission

Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir unit of Congress on Monday staged a protest against Delimitation Commission here, urging the visiting team to provide sufficient time to the party so that it can highlight the “irregularities” in its draft report in a proper way.

The protest led by J&K Pradesh Congress Committee president G A Mir coincided with the start of the public sitting of the Delimitation Commission on its report which was made public last month after nearly a two-year-long exercise.

The commission headed by Justice (retired) Ranjana Prakash Desai reached here on a three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday. The delegation started interaction with delegations from across Jammu region on Monday morning and is scheduled to visit Srinagar later in the day for a similar exercise on Tuesday.

Carrying placards and shouting slogans, the Congress activists led by Mir and other senior party leaders including former ministers and legislators assembled outside their party headquarters at Shaheedi Chowk in the heart of Jammu and staged a sit-in against the delimitation commission.

“We are holding this peaceful protest against the delimitation commission over its draft report which is against settled norms, ground situations and containing large scale irregularities,” Mir told reporters.

The commission had invited claims and suggestions from all political parties, organizations and individuals from March 14-21 after putting draft report in public domain.

The commission had received over 400 suggestions and objections which were in addition to those already received from five Associate Members including Union Minister Jitendra Singh and Jugal Kishore Sharma, both BJP MPs from Jammu division and Farooq Abdullah, Mohammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi, all three National Conference MPs from Kashmir.

“We have submitted detailed objections to the commission and want the commission to hear us for the benefit of the aggrieved population. We have not been given any time that shows they are on a picnic and fulfilling the formalities to put a public stamp on their report made at the behest of BJP,” Mir said.

Suggesting the commission to extend their stay in Jammu and Kashmir by one more day to give sufficient time to all parties especially Congress to explain its objections before it, Mir claimed that the report had given tension to the public as it was prepared in violation of the set parameters and rules like population, terrain and means of communication.

“After downgrading J&K to a union territory, the report has now completely bulldozed the local units…What are they going to understand in a short time and by clubbing delegations? People are angry and there is nobody to listen to them – neither the commission nor the administration,” he said.

Terming the report as “highly objectionable”, Mir said several constituencies have less than 50,000 voters while others more than 1.50 lakh.

He said Congress was hoping for one more Lok Sabha seat for Jammu region but the commission’s readjustment of Anantnag Lok Sabha seat and inclusion of Rajouri and Poonch districts in it is “most unreasonable” and against the public interests and convenience.

“There are several irregularities and violations which need to be fully reviewed and reconsidered but the Commission is merely doing an eye wash to complete the formality,” he said.

Manwhile, xpressing satisfaction over the functioning of Delimitation Commission, Jammu and Kashmir BJP president Ravinder Raina on Monday accused Congress of unleashing a “propaganda” against the independent body after losing credibility among the people.

Raina made the remarks shortly after meeting the members of the Delimitation Commission headed by Justice (retired) Ranjana Prakash Desai at the convention centre here.

Talking to reporters after meeting the commission, Raina said the commission has done a tremendous job and came out with its draft proposal after over two years of hard work.

“They are available to hear the grievances and are meeting various delegations including elected panchayat members, representatives of public and former legislators. People put forth their concerns and grievances and the commission heard them. We are hopeful that the commission will seriously look into the representations for redressal before preparing its final report,” the BJP leader said.

Asked about Congress terming the exercise as an “eyewash” to put a stamp on the report allegedly made at the behest of BJP, Raina said the commission is an autonomous body and headed by former chief justice of Supreme Court.

“Some political parties have lost their credibility in Jammu and Kashmir and are involved in such type of propaganda and Congress is one among them,” he said.

The BJP leader said the commission is expected to submit its final report by its timeline of May 06 and “we are hopeful that it will be followed by assembly elections which will take place within six to eight months as announced by the Prime Minister and Home minister.”

Earlier, a three-member delegation of Congress — chief spokesperson and former MLC Ravinder Sharma, former minister and general secretary Yogesh Sawhney and former MLA Ashok Dogra — walked out of the venue and said “we are boycotting the meeting with the delimitation commission as Congress as a party has not been invited.”

“The name of the Congress party is missing in the list of the invitees … Congress honoured the invitation extended to them as the Pradesh Congress Committee has filed a detailed objection to the draft report,” he said.

Meanwhile, former minister and chairman National Panthers Party (NPP) Harsh Dev Singh also demanded that there are some discrepancies in the draft report which needs to be done away for the benefit of the public.

“There are some anomalies with regard to redrawing of constituencies like Rajouri and Poonch districts were included in Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency and likewise there was change in some assembly seats and the people are not happy over it,” he said.

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