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Draft has departed from laid down norms: NC tells delimitation panel

‘It has defeated the purpose of giving equal representation to people’

February 14, 2022 10:17 pm | Updated 11:04 pm IST - SRINAGAR

JKNC MP Hasnain Masoodi. File

JKNC MP Hasnain Masoodi. File | Photo Credit: PTI

The National Conference (NC), whose three associate members submitted its response to the J&K Delimitation Commission’s second draft on Monday in New Delhi, has mainly highlighted the issues of “constitutional impropriety, lack of implementation of laid down guidelines and irrational distribution of geography and population” in it. “The threshold of our response to the Commission’s second draft has been that it should stay away from such exercises till the Supreme Court decides the matter before it. We reiterated that the J&K Delimitation Commission was set up under the Delimitation Commission Act 2002, which was not applicable to J&K. Out of deference, moral and constitutional propriety, the exercise should not have been held as it tantamounts to pre-empting SC verdict,” Justice Hasnain Masoodi, NC leader and MP told The Hindu in an exclusive interview after submitting the party response to the panel in Delhi. He said the NC’s response also pointed out to the Commission that it “has violated and departed from the laid down norms” while redrawing the Assembly and the Lok Sabha constituencies. The panel has proposed six Assembly seats more in the Jammu province and one in the Kashmir province, taking the Assembly’s seat strength from 83 to 90 seats. “There are constituencies with 1.92 lakh voting population and some with just 51,000. An aggregate population of three constituencies matches the population of just one seat of Dooru in south Kashmir with around 2 lakh voting population. The draft has defeated the purpose of giving equal representation to people. There are reasons other than laid down norms that have been taken into consideration,” Mr. Hasnain said. Mr. Masoodi said the parameters like geographical contiguity, hilly terrain and lack of communication are also violated.  “In the first draft, it was proposed that there could be a deviation of minus 10 on the basis of tough geographical conditions. However, there are deviations as large as 60%. For example, the newly created Paddar constituency [in Jammu] has just a population of 51,000 against the average population distribution of 1.36 lakh per constituency. The Commission should have applied practical and rational parameters as far as possible.” Referring to the newly created Anantnag-Rajouri Lok Sabha seats, the NC leader said the idea of geographical contiguity has been ignored. “It’s evident to all that south Kashmir and Rajouri are separated by the mighty Pir Panjal mountain range and remains disconnected for around six months. Where is the idea of voters’ convenience being taken into consideration while drawing boundaries?” He said the Commission’s draft is also an attempt “to obliterate and deface” the names of historical importance in J&K. 

“Our collective history and culture have also come under attack with the remova of the Assembly segments like Amira Kadal, named after Afghan Governor Amir Khan Sher Jawan and Habba Kadal after Kashmir’s queen and poetess Habba Khatoon. Why to rename constituencies? Why to delete names like Sangrama after a Hindu king?” the NC MP said. The Commission has five associate members which include two MPs of the BJP and three of the NC. The BJP was also asked to file its response by February 14.  

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