The Delimitation Commission along with Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra will visit Jammu and Kashmir between July 6 and July 9, the electoral body said on Wednesday. This is being considered as the first step towards holding Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

“During this period, the Commission will interact with political parties, public representatives and Union Territory administration officials including District Election Officers/Deputy Commissioners of 20 districts of the Union Territory to gather first hand information and input concerning the on-going process of delimitation as mandated under the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019,” the Election Commission said.

The Delimitation Commission was formed in March 2020 and its term got an extension till March this year amid the pandemic. The commission’s chairperson is Justice (Retired) Ranjana Prakash Desai. Members include Chandra, the Jammu and Kashmir election commissioner, and five associate members nominated by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.

“The commission already had series of meetings related to data/map of the Districts/constituencies related to census 2011,” the statement added. “A number of representations has also been received on various aspects concerning delimitation from civil societies and members of public from the Union Territory.”

The commission said it has noted all suggestions and directed that further deliberations on the recommendations may be done “in the context of ground realities concerning delimitation”.

On February 17, 2020, the central government began the delimitation process of Assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir. It came six months after the Centre split Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories and scrapped its special constitutional status, is expected to pave the way for the Assembly elections.

According to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, which was passed by Parliament in August and came into effect in October, Jammu and Kashmir will have a legislative Assembly while the Union Territory of Ladakh will not. The reorganisation act had stipulated that the number of seats in the Jammu and Kashmir state Assembly will be raised from 107 to 114 and delimitation will provide for reserved seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

In the Narendra Modi-led government’s first attempt to reach out to Kashmiri political leaders since August 5, 2019, the prime minister held a meeting with the representatives of the parties on June 24. After the meeting with Modi, local parties of the region had announced that they would meet to discuss the way forward. However, a meeting scheduled on Tuesday was postponed.