Chai Khana: The Public Square

Delimitation Commission has abandoned people of Jammu and Kashmir

JAMMU: The Delimitation Commission which submitted its report to the Election Commission of India has failed to mention the Parliamentary and Assembly seats for PoK , Shaksgam Valley including the Trans-Karakoram.

While abolishing the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019, the Central government changed the provisions related to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir by reserving 24 seats in the Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. retained. The Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, framed in the year 1956, stipulated 24 seats in the Legislative Assembly, which were left vacant. Even after the reorganization of the State under the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2OL9, it was mandatory for the Delimitation Commission to mention Assembly seats for the PoK, which has not been mentioned in the gazette. This has hurt the sentiments of the people of India, more so J&K.

My sovereignty and my jurisdiction is laid out by my maps. My maps have been there for over 5000 years . Now, that’s my claim being Resident of Jammu and Kashmir.

successive governments have virtually abandoned people of Jammu and Kashmir claim on PoK , sakshgam valley & including the Trans-Karakoram. Govt of India’s political thinkers & officials contributed to the lethargic approach towards claim PoK , , Saksham valley & including the Trans-Karakoram and India’s stance on maintaining the status quo, discounting the reality that Pakistan was constantly challenging the same. India had, advertently or inadvertently, projected that it was inclined towards a status quo-centric solution on Kashmir. The downplaying of the country’s legitimate claims on PoK , sakshgam valley & including the Trans-Karakoram failed to instill a strong sense of justification for those claims in public as well as at the global level. Lethargy and neglect together, slowly but surely, bred policy inertia on the issue, which at some point looked rather irreversible.

India has declared the entire Jammu and Kashmir including PoK, Shaksgam Valley and the main Karakoram range as an integral part of the country and any issue related to them is an internal matter of India. The Commission should have also taken into account the views of the Supreme Court while delimiting additional seats for the Parliamentary and Assembly seats in Jammu and Kashmir, including PoK, Shaksgam Valley and the main Karakoram range. According to the Supreme Court, delimitation is not an exercise in mathematics. It should reflect the political aspirations of a society bound in a particular geography.
By not allocating the seats to PoK, Shaksgam Valley & including the Trans-Karakoram, what kind of strategy the Govt of India has adopted.

With this, India has, advertently or inadvertently, projected that it is inclined towards a status quo-centric solution on Kashmir. The downplaying of the country’s legitimate claims on PoK, Shaksgam Valley & including the Trans-Karakoram fails to instill a strong sense of justification for those claims in Public as well as at the global level.

What Happened to the forceful assertion of India’s claim on PoK which began with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech in August 2016, when he made explicit reference to PoK. Media coverage pursuant to the surgical strikes of September 2016 further sensitized the people about PoK. Besides, repeated references to terror camps in PoK by then Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar sustained the government’s focus on PoK. On 6th August, 2019 Home Minister Amit Shah asserted in Lok Sabha that Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Aksai Chin are part of Jammu and Kashmir and that Kashmir Valley is an integral part of the country.

The government must give serious thought to reserving Parliamentary and Assembly seats for representatives from PoK, Shaksgam Valley and the main Karakoram range.

The erstwhile Constitution of J&K had allotted seats in the state assembly for members from PoK, which, it noted, shall lie vacant until PoK is integrated with India. That there was no such quota in the Lok Sabha was something of a constitutional incongruity.

Despite the fact that the constitution of J&K no longer exists, and the erstwhile state stands bifurcated into two Union Territories, it is all the more compelling to consider this option in accordance with the revised map of India. The constitutional impediments that may exist in this regard need to be overcome by introducing the required changes. Filling up some, if not all seats in the new Assembly, could be a step forward, to begin with. Since delimitation for the newly created two Union Territories has already been done, serious thinking is required now to contemplate follow-up options in this regard.

 

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