Experts have expressed concern that the Delimitation Commission’s proposal to increase Assembly seats in Jammu and Kashmir can fan a spate of violence in the Union Territory, as this proposal can change the dominance of the political parties having larger base and influence in the Valley.
The local population of the Valley may consider that they have been deliberately neglected by being offered only one seat, while six seats have been proposed for the Jammu division, experts said.
They also said that discontentment among the people in the Valley may disrupt their belief and trust in the Central government, which has initiated a series of development works in the Valley after the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A in 2019 to give them equal rights as the rest of the country.
Admitting the fact that that the local population in Kashmir may take it as the domination of the Jammu region in the region’s politics, sources in the security grid in the UT said that the sentiments of the Valley can be exploited by the terror outfits actie there and may possibly result in disruption of peace and the development process there.
They also said that this could destroy the ‘trust dividends’ earned by the government in recent times after the change in special status of the erstwhile state of J&K.
The sources also admitted that the demographic situation has equally changed in both the regions in the last 10 years, hence offering only one seat to Kashmir will not be welcomed by the local population too.
An expert on Jammu and Kashmir and West Asia, Qamar Agha, said that if the proposal of the Delimitation Commission headed by former Supreme Court justice Ranjana Desai is accepted by the government, the political parties in Jammu will dominate J&K politics and also in government formation once the statehood is restored.
“Earlier, the J&K government used to be dominated by the people or representatives of Kashmir region and they used to lead or dominate in the state government, but increasing six seats in Jammu and only one in Kashmir will imbalance the political situation there. This could also have an impact on the local population,” Agha said, adding that the discontentment may be used by the anti-national groups active in the Valley to flair up terrorism.
However, Sanjeev Srivastatva, professor of international studies at the Delhi University, said that the panel’s recommendation to increase Assembly seats in Jammu division was long awaited, as the population in this region has largely increased in the last 10 years based on the 2011 Census.
“As far as the impact on the security situation is concerned, the Narendra Modi-led government has zero tolerance policy on terrorism, and it will take care of things aptly if any such situation arises,” he said.
Srivastava also said that the Commission’s proposal is fair and the political parties which rejected it are only keeping their own political interests in consideration.
On December 20, while meeting with the stakeholders of Jammu and Kashmir in Delhi, the Commission proposed the increase of six Assembly seats for Jammu and one for Kashmir.
Soon after the proposal came into public domain, political parties such as National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, and Apni Party rejected it and expressed their reservations.
Rejecting the Delimitation Commission proposal, PDP chief Mebooba Mufti said that her apprehensions about the Commission were not misplaced as they want to pitch people against each other by ignoring the Census of 2011, and giving six seats to one region and only one to Kashmir.
Reacting to the proposal, National Conference vice-president Omar Abdulla said that this is not acceptable to them, as the distribution of seats in the proposal is not justified as per the 2011 Census.