The Centre’s decision to redefine Assembly constituencies through a delimitation exercise has come under criticism from Kashmiri Pandit leaders and pro-Jammu organisations, who said that it excludes Kashmiri Pandits and is an act of “internal sabotage”.
Satish Mahaldar, Chairman of the Reconciliation, Return, and Rehabilitation of Migrants, demanded that the process be stopped as the 2011 census, which is being taken as the basis for conducting the exercise in J&K, does not take into account a large number of Kashmiri Pandits. He said the names of 2 lakh Kashmiri Pandit migrants have been erased from electoral records and are not registered with the migrants and relief department either. He asked how the delimitation exercise can be fair using the current data.
“We condemn this fraudulent exercise in which the rights of the people are not protected,’’ he said, demanding representation for Kashmiri Pandits in the delimitation panel.
Sanjay Dhar, a Kashmiri Pandit leader who unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha elections from Anantnag, expressed anguish over the Central and local governments “deliberately neglecting” the community in the constitution of the delimitation panel. He demanded inclusion of at least one representative of the community into the delimitation panel and reservation of two Parliamentary and 10 Assembly seats for them.
Ankur Sharma, chairman of the right-wing organisation IkkJutt Jammu, claimed the decision “will perpetuate slavery of Jammu” as the 2011 Census was fudged in favour of Kashmir. He demanded that the Centre should wait for the 2021 Census before the exercise.
Claiming that it will negate the impact of the Centre’s decision on Article 370 and Article 35A, he said, “Jammu has been betrayed, once again and perpetuating slavery of Jammu is being erroneously flaunted as a national interest… Fraud and fudged Census in J&K has always been a conspiracy against Jammu hatched by the successive Central governments in active connivance with fundamentalist Kashmiri Islamic power centres, disguised as mainstream political parties.”
The National Conference, whose president Dr Farooq Abdullah was among four MPs from Jammu and Kashmir nominated as associate members to the Delimitation Commission, has already refused to be part of the exercise. Pointing out that its three MPs will not join the Commission, the party in a statement on Friday had said, “This Delimitation Commission is a product of the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019 which JKNC is challenging in and outside the SC. Participating in this Delimitation Commission will be tantamount to accepting the events of 5th August 2019 which the NC is unwilling to do.”
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