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‘Divisive and unacceptable’: Gupkar Alliance rejects Delimitation Commission’s assembly seat rearrangement plan

The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration on Tuesday termed the draft report of the Delimitation Commission on Jammu and Kashmir “divisive and unacceptable”.

Addressing the media after a meeting of the amalgam, PAGD chief spokesperson M Y Tarigami alleged that the ruling BJP has nothing to offer to Jammu and Kashmir except hatred and is “creating a wedge” between communities.

Separately, National Conference leader Hasnain Masoodi said the party will file its objections to the commission’s recommendations with documentary evidence within the next 10 days.

The Delimitation Commission, set up to redraw the assembly seats of the union territory, is learned to have proposed six additional seats for the Jammu region and one for the Kashmir Valley in its ‘Paper 1’ discussed with its five associate members – three parliamentarians of the National Conference and two of the BJP from Jammu and Kashmir – in New Delhi on Monday.

NC president Farooq Abdullah and leaders Hasnain Masoodi and Akbar Lone participated in the meeting.

Within hours of the meeting, the NC said it “will not be a signatory to this report.” Tarigami, who addressed the media in the presence of PAGD chairperson Farooq Abdullah and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, among others, said the leaders of the amalgam are of the view that the recommendations of the Delimitation Commission are “divisive and unacceptable”.

Responding to a question about their objection to increasing the number of seats in Jammu, Tarigami said, “Jammu is ours and we are here to represent them as well.”

“There should be some criteria (for the delimitation exercise). The census has taken place in 2011 and it has been made the baseline for it,” he said.

The Kashmir division currently has 46 seats and Jammu 37. The population of the Jammu region is 53.72 lakh and the Kashmir division is 68.83 lakh, according to the 2011 Census.

Tarigami said the BJP is talking about mainstreaming everything, but “when we want to mainstream, they do not agree with our proposal. Why are they in a hurry? They have downgraded the historic Dogra state without talking with the real stakeholders. Is this in favor of Jammu’s aspirations?” “They are creating a wedge between communities and a division of communities is not acceptable to us,” he added.

On the commission’s proposal to reserve nine seats for Scheduled Castes, Tarigami said, “We are not questioning that. We are only concerned with one thing and that is we are being divided. There are already many divisions and please do not add to this long list as we want to stay together.” Alleging that the BJP has nothing to offer to Jammu and Kashmir except “hatred”, he said it has deliberately come out with such a controversial recommendation to divert attention from the real issues of price hike of essential commodities and growing unemployment.

“The prime minister has promised ‘achhe din’ (good days) and we want him to at least identify one such good day for the nation and Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

Giving a presentation before the associate members of the commission on Monday, Deputy Election Commissioner Chandra Bhushan Kumar informed that since the last delimitation, the number of districts has increased from 12 to 20, and the number of tehsils from 52 to 207.

NC leader Masoodi told reporters on Tuesday that the party will file its objections to the panel’s recommendations with documentary evidence within the next 10 days.

“We have already informed the commission in the meeting itself that the whole exercise is not in accordance with the Constitution and is offending its core values.

“There are petitions (with regard to the reorganization of J&K) pending in Supreme Court… the chairperson of the commission presented the interim draft proposal, to which we strongly objected and made it clear that it is not acceptable. We asked the commission what is the baseline for the report and were told that (it is the) 2011 census,” he said.

The NC leader said after “our strong objection, the commission gave us 10 days’ time till the month-end to file our objections.” “We are working to file our objections within the time frame based on data and other documentary evidence,” Masoodi said.

The Delimitation Commission has divided all 20 districts of Jammu and Kashmir into three broad categories A, B, and C giving a margin of 10 percent (plus/minus) of average population per assembly constituency while proposing an allocation of the constituencies to the districts.

The commission has also, for some districts, proposed carving out of an additional constituency to balance the representation for geographical areas having inadequate communication and lack of public conveniences due to their inhospitable conditions on the international border.

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