Jammu and Kashmir’s former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday came out strongly against the Union Home Minister’s move to lift the freeze on delimitation of Assembly seats in the state, while the BJP backed the measure to ensure proper representation to the Jammu region.
Amit Shah is contemplating appointment of a Delimitation Commission.
Reacting to the proposed move, Abdullah, the Vice President of National Conference, said his party would strongly oppose any such measure, if confined to the state.
“When delimitation takes place in the rest of the country the BJP is welcome to apply it to J&K until then we in the @JKNC_ will oppose, tooth & nail, any attempt to make changes without a mandate from the people of the state,” he said in a series of tweets.
Terming it “rather surprising” that the BJP, which talks about bringing Jammu & Kashmir at par with other states by removing the Constitution’s Articles 370 & 35-A, giving the state special status, “now wants to treat J&K differently from other states in this one respect”.
“The freeze on delimitation was applied to J&K and was done to bring the state in line with the rest of the country. The same was challenged & upheld in both the High Court of J&K & the Supreme Court,” he said.
Former Chief Minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti said that instead of allowing old wounds to heal, the Modi government was inflicting another “emotional partition” of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Distressed to hear about plans to redraw Assembly constituencies in J&K.
“Forced delimitation is an obvious attempt to inflict another emotional partition of the state on communal lines. Instead of allowing old wounds to heal, GoI (Government of India) is inflicting pain on Kashmiris,” she said in a tweet.
At present the state Assembly has 87 seats — 46 in the Kashmir Valley, 37 in Jammu region and 4 in Ladakh region.
Under the state’s Constitution, 24 seats are reserved for Pakistan-administered Kashmir which, according to the state Constitution, is a part of Jammu and Kashmir.
The last time a delimitation exercise took place in the state was also under President’s Rule, as far back as 1995 in extremely difficult circumstances by the Justice (retired) K.K. Gupta Commission.
The Constitution provides for delimitation every 10 years. The next delimitation of Assembly constituencies should have logically taken place in 2005.