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Pause delimitation exercise: National Conference

Associate members submit a 12-point objection note to the J&K panel

February 16, 2022 06:31 pm | Updated February 17, 2022 12:07 am IST - SRINAGAR

National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah. File

National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The National Conference (NC), which made its response submitted to the J&K Delimitation Commission public on Wednesday, has asked the panel “to stop the delimitation exercise forthwith pending final adjudication and disposal of the batch of writ petitions questioning the constitutional validity of the Jammu and Kashmir Re–organisation Act 2019”.

“We have all along taken the consistent stand from the very first date the exercise violates the fundamental canons of ethics of the Constitution, its values and morality and above all the constitutional propriety,” reads the note submitted by the NC’s Members of Parliament (MPs).

Farooq Abdullah, Mohamad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi are among the five associate members of the Commission, besides two MPs of the BJP.

The NC has also submitted 12-point note of objections to the draft proposal shared by the panel with the associate members earlier this month.

“The Working Papers 2-6 have given a complete go by to the fundamental principles of universal application that govern a delimitation exercise. It has not at all adhered to the fundamental principle [of equal representation],” the NC note said. 

It said the Commission has, in the first place, arbitrarily devised “some unknown criteria while apportioning and identifying the increased seven seats”. “The arbitrary allocation of increased seats for reasons other than contemplated under law and logic have made now huge violation of fundamental principles of a delimitation exercise unavoidable. The increased seats have been arbitrarily allotted even in violation of -10% and +10 % of the average criteria fixed and notified earlier.”

It pointed out that there was deviation in population ranges from 56,077 more than the average of 1,36,304 in case of Dooru to 85,025 less than the average in case of Paddar. 

“There are seven Assembly segments with less than 1,00,000 population [Paddar, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi, Bani Mughal Madaan, Basohli, Ramgarh and Kishtwar] in Jammu province while the number of such constituencies is only three [Gurez, Karnah and Kunzer] in the Kashmir province. Likewise, there are 18 Assembly segments with population of more 1,50,000 in the Kashmir province while the number of such Assembly segments is seven in case of the Jammu province,” it said.

It underlined that the population of the Dooru constituency in Kashmir almost equals the population of three constituencies — Paddar, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi and Bani constituencies. 

“The Commission ignoring the just claim of Anantnag, Budgam, Srinagar and Poonch has unjustifiably allotted in one each from the increased seats to Reasi, Kathua, Samba, Udhampur, Kishtwar, when the criteria laid down did not make the districts eligible for increase. Baramulla with 100–km long LoC does get an extra seat, while a suburban industrialised district with 900 sq km area gets an extra Assembly segment in the name of proximity to the International Border.”

It claimed that the constituencies have been demarcated, areas joined and annexed under “reasons other than permissible under settled norms”. 

“Rajouri’s Sohna, Doongi and Bagla situated at the tail-end have been annexed with Thana Mandi. The inhabitants of these areas have to cross entire Rajouri to reach Thana Mandhi...The panel has created geographical islands,” it said.

The NC has also objected to reconfiguring the Lok Sabha seats, especially the Anantnag-Rajouri seat. 

“The Commission has joined Anantnag, Kulgam and Zainapora from Shopian district with Poonch and Rajouri districts without any regard for the terrain, geography, connectivity, accessibility and overall convenience. The draft proposal makes no sense looking from any angle. Shopian has been made part of the Srinagar constituency and Budgam and Beerwah part of Baramulla in utter disregard of the settled guiding principles and to the huge inconvenience of the people,” it said.

The NC also objected to renaming constituencies with historic background like Habakadal, Amirakadal, Zadibal, Shangus, Kokernag, Sangrama, Gulmarg, Hom Shali Bugh, Inderwal and Gandhi Nagar.

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