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Kashmiri politicians flay Delimitation Commission’s report

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BJP hails report, says it empowers entire J&K population

Srinagar: The National Conference on Thursday said it was studying the impact of the Delimitation Commission report on individual assembly segments in Jammu and Kashmir but claimed the BJP and its “proxies” will be punished by the voters whenever elections are held in the union territory.

However, the People’s Conference led by Sajad Gani Lone accused the National Conference of providing sanctity to the delimitation exercise after its MPs participated in the deliberations of the Commission.

“We have seen the final recommendations of the Delimitation Commission. We are studying the implications of these recommendations for individual assembly constituencies.

“No amount of gerrymandering will change the ground reality which is that whenever elections are held the voter will punish the BJP & its proxies for what they have done to J&K over the last 4 years,” the National Conference tweeted.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti rejected the report of the Delimitation Commission, alleging that the panel has “become an extension of the BJP”.

“What delimitation are you talking about? That delimitation commission that has become an extension of the BJP? It has ignored the basic parameter of population and added or removed areas as per their wishes. We reject it, we have no faith in it,” Mufti told reporters after attending a function in Anantnag.

The former chief minister said the Commission was set up to “disempower the people of Jammu and Kashmir”.

“The delimitation commission is part of the design under which Article 370 was abrogated. The aim is to reduce the powers of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and weaken them. This is another way to disempower people,” she added.

Replying to a question about PDP’s participation in elections, Mufti said “What elections? There is no trace of the polls in sight. We don’t know anything”.

Meanwhile, PDP spokesman said the final report of the commission had proved right the fears expressed by the party when the delimitation exercise was undertaken.

“The PDP from day-one has looked at the delimitation exercise as an extension of the process started on August 05, 2019 to disempower people from a particular community and a region. The final draft has proved our fears right again,” party spokesman said.

He said the central government “misused independent institutions” to turn the electoral majority into a minority by using geography and access as a ruse.

“It will be for the first time in the electoral history of the country that elections are being rigged long even before the first vote is cast. It’s another sad chapter of history written by the rulers sitting in New Delhi,” he added.

The People’s Conference said the delimitation report is a repeat of the past and accused the NC of providing sanctity to the delimitation exercise.

“Same traditional entities are calling the shots behind the scenes. Kashmir has been discriminated against as in the past. No change. Only degree of disempowerment is greater,” the party said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“Over the last six decades, Kashmir’s share of assembly seats in the J&K Assembly increased from 43 to 47, while Jammu’s share rose from 30 to 43. Who is responsible for systematic disempowerment of Kashmiris from 1947?” it asked.

“Those who aided and abetted in the journey from Jammu’s 30 to 37 are the ones who aided and abetted from 37 to 43.

“Wish Kashmiri parties had stayed away and not diluted the stigma associated with a people-less process. Hope Kashmiris will remember the parties who associated themselves with delimitation process which was in essential a tool for disempowerment will always be in wonderment. How could a party which associated itself with the delimitation process be so audacious? They actually had the nerve of submitting one memorandum in Kashmir and a separate memorandum in Jammu. Ironically the memorandums were contradictory,” the People’s Conference said

“The Jammu one seemed to have been copy-pasted from the Hindutva brigade,” it added.

The party said it will go for an RTI and seek the video recordings of the meetings.

“How those who started beating their chests outside the meeting halls were bending their back backwards to appease and please the members of the delimitation commission. Financial scams indulged in — during the last few decades cannot be squared off by covertly facilitating disempowerment of the Kashmiris.

“How stupid we were. We couldn’t see through the game plan. The raids. The EDs. It was all a game. A trade-off. They again bartered away the Kashmiris. The barterers are the same. When will this change,” it said.

The party said it does not claim that the outcome of the exercise would have been any different if there was no participation of the National Conference. “But the process would not enjoy the sanctity that they enjoy now.”

CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said though the Delimitation Commission was constituted under the Delimitation Act of 2002, it has redrawn the constituencies of  UT of J&K in accordance with the previsions of J&K Re-organisation Act 2019 which has been challenged in the Supreme Court.

“The Re-organisation Act modified the law of enfranchisement of J&K. Voting rights for the State Assembly which were restricted to only permanent residents have been extended to non-state subjects also. The exercise is bound to disempower the people of Jammu and Kashmir in the long run,” he said.

Senior Congress leader Saifuddin Soz said a cursory look at the report reveals some of its “extremely negative” sides, which can never be accepted by the people of J&K.

“The Commission’s recommendation of adding six Assembly seats to Jammu region and only one seat to Kashmir smacks of its pre-determined erroneous assessment of the situation. Many observers had already suspected that the commission would play the nefarious game in tandem with the Union Govt!” Soz said.

He said the Commission has totally failed to appreciate that a sizable number of people in Kashmir belong to social castes who carry the same stigma as STs and SCs.

Meanwhile, senior BJP leader Devender Singh Rana today termed the final report of the Delimitation Commission as all inclusive political empowerment of all the segments of the Jammu and Kashmir population.

Rana complimented the Commission for a judicious report which has opened equal opportunities for all in the political process and decision making thereby equitably empowering all the residents of J&K irrespective of caste, creed, religion and region, which forms the core of democracy.

He said the report will provide justice to all and will help in shaping their destiny by being equal partners in governance and decision making. Eventually it will lead to strengthening the idea of Jammu and Kashmir and thereby the idea of India.

“We welcome the fair and impartial report of the Commission headed by Justice (Retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai about 43 assembly constituencies for the Jammu Division and 47 for the Kashmir Valley, which reflects the urges and aspirations of all the areas and sections of the people”, Devender Rana said while interacting with media at the side-lines of  inauguration of an enterprise here, adding that political empowerment of all will lead to harmonious growth of Jammu and Kashmir.

He also welcomed the final report of the Commission on parliamentary constituencies, carving out one  Lok Sabha constituency by combining the Annantnag and the Poonch/Rajouri areas of the Jammu region to ensure that each of the constituencies will have an equal number of 18 assembly constituencies.

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