The People’s Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration, a grouping of Jammu and Kashmir’s political parties, on Tuesday called for a protest on January 1 against the “divisive, unacceptable” distribution of seven new Assembly seats in the region by the Centre.
On February 17, 2020, the central government began the delimitation process – or redrawing boundaries – of Assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir. The number of seats in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly will go up from 107 to 114, and delimitation will provide for reserved seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
The Centre’s Delimitation Commission on Monday allocated six seats to the Jammu region and one to Kashmir based on the 2011 Census. It had received backlash from the Union Territory’s politicians for unbalanced distribution. They had also said that the commission had served the Bharatiya Janata Party’s interests.
On Tuesday, the leaders of the Gupkar Alliance in a statement said that they were unsatisfied with the Delimitation Commission’s expectations.
Chairman of National Conference Farooq Abdullah, who is a part of the Gupkar Alliance, said he that the distribution of seats was “not as per the wishes and interest of people” and “a step to create wedge on regional and community basis”.
Gupkar Alliance spokesperson MY Tarigami said that many political parties and members of the civil society have challenged the Act in the Supreme Court under which the delimitation panel was formed, The Week reported. He added that the Centre should have waited for the court’s judgement before adding new Assembly seats to Jammu and Kashmir.
According to Tarigami, the Supreme Court had upheld the decision of Jammu and Kashmir government, when it was led by Farooq Abdullah, to defer delimitation till 2026. He added that delimitation should be carried out in the Union Territory along with the rest of the country.
Tarigami also noted that the draft proposal of the delimitation panel has ignored the 2011 Census. “We believe only the Census is the basis for carrying out such an exercise,” he said. “We want that the population should be taken into consideration and seats should be increased transparently.”
According to the 2011 Census of the erstwhile state, 56.2% of the total 1.25 crore population stayed in Kashmir and 43.8% was in Jammu. Kashmir’s seat share in the Assembly was 55.4% and Jammu’s was 44.6%, according to The Week.
If the draft proposals are implemented, Kashmir’s seat share will decline to 52.2% while Jammu’s will rise to 47.8%.