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Delimitation draft: Average population size of Kashmir constituencies go up against Jammu seats

The J&K Delimitation Commission’s proposed population distribution among the 90 Assembly seats — with the Kashmir division having a population of 68.88 lakh and the Jammu division 53.78 lakh — has leftthe average population size in Kashmir’s Assembly segments higher compared to those falling in the Jammu region.Against theaverage population size per constituency in J&K standing at around 1.3 lakh as per the 2011 Census, the panel’s proposed draft willhave 47 constituencies located in Kashmir with an average population size of1.46 lakh against the 1.25 lakh in 43 constituencies in Jammu province.

The draft figures suggested thatseven Assembly constituencies in Jammu will have less than one lakh population compared to three in Kashmir.The Jammu province is geographically divided into two valleys, the Chenab Valley comprising Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban districts and the Pir Panjal Valley comprising Rajouri and Poonch districts, besidesthe Jammu, Kathua, Samba and parts of Reasi located mainly in the plains.

There are growing protests among the Muslim population in the Jammu province’s Chenab and Pir Panjal. According to them, Muslim-majority Assembly segments has gone down from 14 to 11 in the province. The constituency of Mughalmaidan with 25 per cent Schedule Tribe (ST) population has also failed to figure in the ST reservation list.“A sizeable population of Gujjars and Bakerwals live in the Chenab Valley but no political reservation was granted here. Earlier Inderwal constituency, with over 60%our population, has been split and divided into three constituencies,”Mohd Avais Choudhary, a local leader who organised a street protest against the panel report, said.The Chenab valley, withKishtwar (40.72% Hindus and 57.75% Muslims) and Doda (45.77 %Hindusand53.82% Muslims),has been granted two additional seats of Doda West and Padder.However, in Ramban (28.56 % Hindus and70.68 % Muslims), no seat has been increased despite coming in the same tough topographical range.Similarly, in the Pir Panjal Valley,Rajouri (with34.54 % Hindus and 62.71 % Muslims) will have an additional seat ofSunderbani-Kalakot (Rajouri) but no seat has been increased for Poonch (90.45% Muslims and6.84% Hindus) in spite of being closer to the Line of Control and spread in a tough topography.

However, five seats in the Pir Panjal valley have been reserved for Schedule Tribe for the first time ever.“The panel has reserved five seats for the ST in Rajouri and Poonch. If the BJP really wanted to empower tribals then they could have reserved seats in Jammu, Samba, Udhampur where tribals are facing discrimination from decades,”Guftar Ahmed, senior leader of theGujjar Bakarwal Youth Welfare Conference J&K said.The Jammu region also got a smaller size seat of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi with 73,684 population on the lines of geographically cut-offGurez Valley in Bandipora with 37,992 population.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2022 7:58:28 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/delimitation-draft-average-population-size-of-kashmir-constituencies-go-up-against-jammu-seats/article38404880.ece