Delimitation Panel Holds Deliberations For Third Day in J&K

Jammu: The Delimitation Commission continued its deliberations with political parties and election officials on Thursday as part of its 4-day visit concluding on July 9.

The Commission led by Justice (retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai visited to interact with leaders of political parties and officials to gather “first hand” inputs on the conduct of the exercise to redraw constituencies and carve out new ones in the J&K.

Among others, NC, BJP, Apni Party and Panthers party delegations met the commission in Jammu soon after they reached the winter capital after holding deliberation in Kishtwar.

A National Conference delegation led by Provincial President, Jammu province Devender Singh Rana comprising Mr. Surjeet Singh Slathia, Mr. Ajay Kumar Sadhotra, Mr. Sajjad Ahmed Kitchloo and Mr. Javed Ahmed Rana met the Delimitation Commission here this evening and presented a memorandum. The text of the memorandum is reproduced herewith.

“Any Delimitation process has a vital role in empowering each constituent to be an equal shareholder in the process of democracy so that each one feels empowered and not feels relegated, isolated, disconnected or disempowered,” NC said in the memorandum.

“This Delimitation Commission in the circumstances that it has been constituted is unique and its findings can have far reaching consequences in shaping the future of Jammu and Kashmir. History will judge its decision and our role critically and if we fail we shall fail our people and the Nation as a whole.”

The NC delegation said the party was confident that the Delimitation Commission shall work in the most transparent , judicious and fair manner providing justice to all in delimiting the constituencies as per the constitutional framework based on the basic tenets of Delimitation – population, geography, topography, area, physical features, contiguity, convenience of administrative units and facilities of easy communication and approachability of public convenience.

“We feel that decentralisation should form core of democracy, all regions or sub-regions crave for equal role in the governance where no one should nurture a feeling of subservience or discrimination,” it said, adding, “We are for the singular, inclusive Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir is a model of unity in diversity, but each region and sub region has its own diverse characteristics and thereby peculiar needs and demands which need to be addressed by the Delimitation Commission in a manner that everyone feels involved and democratically empowered.”

Jammu region with an area of 26293 Km2 and population of 53,50,811 (as per 2011 census which is the basis of this Delimitation Commission) is a pluralistic society with multi ethnicity, linguistic diversity and has representation of various castes and creeds. Jammu and its sub regions (whether it is the plains of Jammu or the hills of Poonch-Rajouri or the erstwhile Doda District comprising Kishtwar, Doda and Ramban) feel alienated and have a sense of deprivation, the memorandum reads.

“This Delimitation Commission must give its due to all parts of Jammu region so that our commitment for the equitable empowerment of all regions and sub regions does not get dented,” it said, adding, “There are also geographical and topographical challenges in Jammu region and certain areas are far flung, inaccessible , remote, backward and mountainous and so a need to address their issues in a manner that they can also be equal partners in the process of democracy by being able to conveniently exercise their franchise.

Representation particularly in the far flung , rural areas must be judiciously decided so that there is accessibility and ease of public delivery to enable effective governance and approachability of public representatives, it said.

“The Scheduled Caste Communities, the Scheduled Tribes of the region must get adequate judicious representation. Reservation should be based on settled criteria which should be followed in a transparent manner to ensure that the faith of the people is maintained in the institution of the Delimitation Commission.”

A delegation of JKNPP headed by Prof.Bhim Singh met the Commission and submitted that “Jammu & Kashmir is one State and unfortunately has been converted into a Union Territory along with Ladakh region which was an undesirable decision. The Panthers Party stands for Restoration of Statehood of J&K.”

“The Delimitation Commission is urged to take immediate steps to ensure that regional tension in J&K is diluted. The urgent need is the distribution of Assembly seats between the two provinces, say Jammu and Kashmir. There has been political tension between Jammu and Kashmir for the reason that delimitation was not held several times in the past.”

Besides, an Apni Party delegation led by Vice President Choudhary Zulfikar Ali also met the members of Delimitation Commission and submitted a detailed memorandum.

“J&K is being run by bureaucrats and bureaucracy. The bureaucracy may be performing well but, in any democracy, the bureaucracy cannot be the substitute of democracy,” the delegation informed the Commission Members, as per a party spokesperson.

The delegation further emphasized on the Delimitation Commission to expedite the process of delimiting the assembly constituencies of the erstwhile State at a faster pace by involving all the stakeholders and open for a wider deliberation, and discussion by visiting the remote areas, tehsil headquarters, and district headquarters to understand the topography, geography and composition of the population in the erstwhile State before taking a final decision on delimiting the constituencies.

“It is important to visit the far-flung areas viz Pirpanjal (Rajouri-Poonch), Ramban, Reasi, Ramnagar, Udhampur, Bani, Billawar and Basohli areas of Kathua District, and other remote areas of Kashmir Province,” the leaders said.

They further stressed upon the Delimitation Commission to enhance the number of seats as mandated in the Reorganization Act, 2019 on the basis of population as population being one of the criteria for enhancing the seats, and seats be provided to those districts which are underrepresented till now.

“The administrative units should be the districts for redrawing the Assembly Constituencies and minimum units should be patwar circles except where there are compulsions and constrained with the district and administrative units,” the delegation said, as per the party spokesperson.

They also demanded creation of a Parliamentary seat for the Pirpanjal Region.

“In Jammu-Poonch Parliamentary segment, Rajouri-Poonch has 10 lakh population (which is remote border districts) and Jammu-Samba has 18.5 lakhs in comparison,” the delegation told the Commission.

The delegation also requested the Commission to expedite the process of delimitation of assembly constituencies.

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