The members of the J&K Delimitation Commission faced protests in Jammu as the panel embarked on a two–day visit on Monday to hold consultations with locals, civil society members and political parties before making its final draft public by May 6.
With Congress supporters raising slogans like “toad phood” commission during a sit–in in Jammu, J&K Congress president G.A. Mir said, “The recognised parties, which are not associate members of the panel, were not extended proper invitation or given enough time.
“The panel is offering just two hours to seek inputs from the entire Jammu region. Is this not a joke? We wanted to point out mistakes committed by the Commission. The constituencies have been drawn weirdly, without applying prescribed parameters.”
T.S. Tony, a member of the District Development Council (DDC) from R.S. Pura, said he has decided not to meet the Commission. “We saw what they did after the previous meetings. It’s not delimitation commission but a discrimination commission. We had pleaded that constituencies with Sikh majority should not be touched but the panel does opposite to it,” Mr. Tony said.
Jamaluddin Sheikh, a sarpanch from Gulab Garh, said he pleaded before the panel to retain the name of his constituency. “In its draft, our constituency name, Gool-Gulab Garh, has been removed. Even demography of the SCs, STs and others have been changed significantly after the redrawing of constituencies. We have submitted our objections and are hopeful that the panel will act independently,” he said.
Around 200 people, including elected members of the panchayats, District Development Council and members of the civil society organisations, met the three–member Commission, headed by Justice (retired) Ranjana Prakash Desai.
Representatives from Jammu plains, the Chenab valley and the Pir Panjal valley also met the panel. “There are redrawn constituencies where head has been tied to foot. Islands have been created and tied up to favour a particular party,” said a delegate from the Chenab Valley.
BJP J&K president Ravinder Raina and Kavinder Gupta also met the panel in Jammu.
Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra has said the panel recommendation to increase six Assembly seats in the Jammu division and one in the Kashmir division was done after “considering all the requisite things while redrawing constituency seats. “The Commission is considering all the suggestions received from different quarters.”
The Commission will visit Srinagar on Tuesday and meet public representatives there.
The panel made its draft proposal public on March 14 and had sought objections and suggestions from people. It was given second extension earlier this year and has set May 6 as deadline to finalise the report.
J&K’s main regional parties, including the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party, have rejected the recommendations of the panel terming them ‘biased’ and ‘unacceptable’.