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Will JKBA Jammu take on JKBA Kashmir?
Delimitation of constituencies
3/30/2015 11:58:59 PM
Early Times Report

Jammu, Mar 30: It is not only the Kashmir-based parties which are vehemently opposing the demand in Jammu region for the constitution of a new delimitation commission so that the people of Jammu get proper representation in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, the highest law-making body in the state. The Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association, Kashmir, (JKBAK) is also opposing the demand and saying that the demand, if conceded, would mean an anti-constitutional act.
"The Supreme Court has upheld the freeze imposed by Jammu and Kashmir Government on delimitation of Assembly constituencies in the State till 2026 and dismissed the plea that it violated the basic structure of the Constitution. Any delimitation will be the violation of supreme court judgement," JKBAK president Mian Qayoom, who is a close associate of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, said in a seminar, held in Srinagar two days ago. A number of Kashmiri separatists also took part in the anti-India seminar, with some of the participants saying that "the biggest human rights violation is that New Delhi is refusing to leave the Jammu and Kashmir" and that "giving citizenship rights to WPRs (West Pakistan Refugees) is a conspiracy hatched by New Delhi. "It is the same strategy that Israel adopted against Palestine," one of the participants in the seminar shamelessly said while referring to the demand that the WPRs be granted citizenship rights. The WPRs are Indian nationals, but not the citizens of the state, and, hence, they do not enjoy those rights which are available to all other state subjects.
The opposition of the JKBAK to the age-old demand in Jammu region for the constitution of delimitation is not only anti-Jammu but also anti-constitutional. The Representation of Peoples Act of Jammu and Kashmir (1957) and the Indian Representation of Peoples Act (1951) clearly say that the assembly constituencies shall be delimited de-novo every ten year after the census operations are over. In Jammu and Kashmir the assembly constituencies were last time delimited just before the 1996 assembly elections. The then delimitation commission, which was headed by former High court Judge Justice KK Gupta, had recommended 46 seats for Kashmir, 37 for Jammu region and 4 for Ladakh, despite the fact that the number of voters in Jammu region and Kashmir were almost equal and that the land area of Jammu region was two times that of Kashmir. The report had evoked a very sharp reaction in Jammu region with the people accusing the concerned authorities of giving a preferential treatment to Kashmir and denying the people of the Jammu region their due share of representation in the Assembly.
Instead of appreciating the legitimate grievance of the people of Jammu region, The Farooq Abdullah NC government in February 2002 amended the constitution to scuttle the demand in Jammu for more representation. The amendment said that delimitation of the assembly constituencies could be possible only after the 2031 census. The worst part of the whole anti-democratic and anti-Jammu exercise was the support the NC government got from all the parties, including the Congress, the BJP, and the CPI-M. The Panthers Party was the only party that unsuccessfully opposed the anti-Jammu move.
Ever since then, the people of Jammu region have demanding increased representation in the Assembly. Now that the JKBAK has adopted a rabidly anti-Jammu stance and opposed the demand in Jammu for more representation based on the laid down criteria, it is also time for the JKBA Jammu to take the plunge and counter its Kashmir-based counterpart. The JKBA Jammu has in the past fought for the Jammu cause. It is only natural that the neglected people of Jammu region are expecting the JKBA Jammu to play its role. Will the JKBA Jammu rise to the occasion as before and play the role the so-called Jammu-centric parties have failed to play?
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