Srinagar: The Delimitation Commission, led by Justice (retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai, which arrived in Srinagar here on Tuesday met key regional political leaders amidst sharp criticism while at least two parties, the People’s Democratic Party and the Awami National Conference, stayed away from the meeting.
The Delimitation Commission is on a four-day visit to the region to interact with political parties, public representatives and the officials from the Union territory administration. During their stay, the panel plans to gather information about the ongoing process of delimitation mandated under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.
The National Conference (NC) party submitted a memorandum to the panel claiming that the commission was carrying out the exercise despite the party’s “basic reservation” while they expressed their opposition to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019.
“While reiterating our stand and without prejudice to the submissions made above, we request you and other Hon’ble members of the Commission to carry out the delimitation exercise in a free, fair and transparent manner so that the unity and integrity of the state is safeguarded,” the NC memorandum read.
While leaders from NC, including AR Rather, Shafi Uri and Mian Altaf, met with the visiting panel, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) decided to stay away from it. The party sent a letter to the commission detailing its disapproval of the process.
“...Our party has decided to stay away from this process and not be part of some exercise, the outcome of which is widely believed to be pre planned and which may further hurt the interests of our people,” the party general secretary GN Hanjura wrote in the letter.
The visit comes two weeks after regional political parties participated in an all-party meeting in Delhi that was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also attended by Home Minister Amit Shah.
The PDP, which is a part of People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), said it was disappointed after the meeting as “no effort has been made to bring ease into the lives of people, giving credence, to those, who had in the first instance, called the meeting a mere photo opportunity.”
As the party decided to stay outside the meeting, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti alleged that her mother received summons from a law enforcement agency, she believed, was aimed to intimidate her.
“On the day PDP chose not to meet Delimitation Commission, ED sent a summon to my mother to appear in person for unknown charges. In its attempts to intimidate political opponents, GOI doesn’t even spare senior citizens. Agencies like NIA & ED are now its tools to settle scores,” Mehbooba tweeted.
PAGD’s another constituent Awami National Conference (ANC) also stayed away from the meeting.
Senior Congress leader G A Mir said they “reiterated” in their meeting with the delimitation commission that the decision taken on August 5, 2019 were “unconstitutional and undemocratic.”
"There are apprehensions about this delimitation commission...Delimitation is to be done in 2026 in the country, then why it's being done in 2021 in Jammu and Kashmir. This is a big question. Till J&K's statehood is restored, the delimitation will not be beneficial," senior J&K Congress leader GA Mir said after meeting.
A CPI(M) delegation, led by its J&K secretary Ghulam Nabi Malik, met the commission. In a statement after the meeting, the party said it was “not against delimitation, but wanted it to be carried along with rest of the country.”
“The reality is that there is a lot of mistrust among people and rumour mongering has engulfed the region. Unfortunately, since last several years, vested interests are trying to create a wedge between communities and regions in J&K. Under these circumstances, we are of considered opinion that 2011 census provides guiding frame for delimitation exercise. Neglected sections of population living in remote areas of J&K also must be given due representation. Our submission is to keep sensitivities of J&K in consideration while conducting the exercise,” the statement read.
CPI Kashmir expressed similar demands suggesting that the process of delimitation should be put on hold till 2026 and that “the pre-August 5 position should be restored for the larger interest of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.”