The Centre will restore Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood once the situation in the Union Territory normalises, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Saturday, reported The Times of India.
Jammu and Kashmir lost its statehood when the Centre scrapped its special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and split the state into two Union Territories on August 5, 2019.
“Delimitation has started and soon elections will be held,” Shah said while launching the district good governance index virtually. “I’ve given assurance in Parliament that as soon as the situation becomes normal in Jammu and Kashmir, statehood will be given back to J&K.”
Shah said the process of delimitation has started and elections will be held soon after. “No matter what they [political parties] say, Jammu and Kashmir will get full statehood,” he added, according to The Indian Express.
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.
In a draft resolution presented in December, the commission had proposed six new Assembly seats for the Jammu region and one for Kashmir.
While it is a routine effort in some parts of the country, the delimitation process is much more politically sensitive in Jammu and Kashmir because of fears that the Bharatiya Janata Party may use it to alter political outcomes in what was earlier India’s only Muslim-majority state.
On January 1, political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir said that they were placed under detention ahead of a protest by the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration against the Delimitation Commission’s recommendations. Those who were said to have been placed under detention included three former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.
Many politicians asked Shah to define what he means by normalcy.
“After quite literally terrorising people of J&K into silence to create a false normalcy narrative, the GOIs admission that situation still isn’t normal is self-contradictory,” Peoples Democratic Party President Mehbooba Mufti said in a tweet. “Also proves that silence shouldn’t be misconstrued as normalcy.”
Peoples Conference chairperson Sajjad Lone sought the definition of normalcy from the home minister. “But who will define normalcy?” he asked on Twitter. “And in a federal structure, can we really use normalcy as an excuse to assume power. Irrespective of the definition of normalcy possibly coined by the Union government, every single stateless day is an affront to federalism and to the people of J&K.”
Leftist leader Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami said that one of the principal fundamentals of good governance is participation and representation, a right which continues to be denied to the people of J&K. “Releasing such indexes is intended to help the government in optics wise,” he tweeted. “However, the ground reality of dilapidated roads, erratic power supply, inaccessibility of potable water combined with huge unemployment, social unrest is reflecting contrasting picture.”