The recommendations of the Delimitation Commission on Jammu and Kashmir are "divisive and unacceptable", the People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) said on Tuesday and announced a peaceful protest in Srinagar on January 1.
The Delimitation Commission, set up to redraw the assembly seats of the union territory, is learnt to have proposed six additional seats for the Jammu region and one for the Kashmir Valley in its 'Paper 1' discussed with its five associate members – three parliamentarians of the National Conference (NC) and two of the BJP from Jammu and Kashmir- in New Delhi on Monday.
"We want peace and do not want any confrontation with any institution or government. However, we will raise our voice for the defence of legitimate rights of the people in a peaceful manner and have decided to hold a peaceful demonstration in Srinagar on January 1 against the proposal put forward by the Delimitation Commission as in our view the draft is unacceptable to the people and all communities," PAGD chief spokesperson and CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami told reporters here.
The PAGD, an alliance formed by five Jammu and Kashmir-based mainstream political parties, including the NC and the PDP, seeks the restoration of special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir that was revoked by the Centre in August 2019. This was its second meeting in Jammu since the amalgam was formed in 2019. The last was held here in November last year.
On Delimitation Commission's recommendations, Tarigami said, "We are firmly of the opinion that it (proposal) is divisive and will further deepen the divide in Jammu and Kashmir." "It will also deepen the alienation of the people and will create a much more bigger void which is also detrimental to the interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as well and will also damage the interests of the country as a whole," he said after the over hour long meeting chaired by NC president and PAGD chairperson Farooq Abdullah.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and Awami National Conference leader Muzaffar Ahmad Shah also attended the meeting at Abdullah's Bhatindi residence. Tarigami said the meeting has decided to reach out to the people of the country to highlight "our pain". "We have decided to use every opportunity and every forum and will reach to the people of the country, leaders of political parties, including those who do not agree with us, and make them understand the pain we are going through by trampling of our rights which have very serious implications for the country," he said.
The meeting also discussed the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir along with the delimitation proposal which in "our view is divisive and not in the interest of the public", Tarigami said. "We regret that the constitutional framework for such an exercise, which is the population according to the census, was completely ignored," he said. The Kashmir division currently has 46 assembly seats and Jammu 37. The population of Jammu region is 53.72 lakh and Kashmir division 68.83 lakh, according to the census of 2011 which has been the baseline for the commission.
Referring to the petitions filed by various political parties in the Supreme court against the Reorganization Act and revocation of special status in 2019, Tarigami said "we have all along demanded delimitation in accordance with the national exercise". "What they have done (in 2019) was a unilateral and unconstitutional decision without taking the real stakeholders on board. We have already challenged it in the Supreme Court. The government should have waited for the decision of the court but they set up the Delimitation Commission. They are in haste which is neither in the interest of the nation nor the public. Hasty decisions are detrimental to the national unity and harmful for the public," he said.
Claiming that the Constitution and the law are not operative in Jammu and Kashmir, the PAGD leader said the BJP is trying to mainstream Jammu and Kashmir on its own terms and is taking decisions that are "detrimental to national unity and will harm the peoples' aspirations". "Was everything suspended in Jammu and Kashmir? This is our question to our nation, leaders and the civil society…we are fearful that such a decision (delimitation recommendation) if implemented will further deepen the crisis in J&K. The prime minister is talking about bridging gaps, but such decisions will not only widen the gap further but also break hearts," he said and requested parliamentarians, delimitation commission and all political parties to "hear our voice" and not do this.
Tarigami said the PAGD is not representing one region or one community but is a platform for "all communities, regions, sub-regions, Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh''. "We will not allow any unconstitutional or undemocratic step which is aimed at dividing the people," he said, alleging that attempts are being made to pitch Gujjars against Paharis after attempts to divide Muslims and Hindus, and Jammu and Kashmir for "vote bank". "This is a very unfortunate state of affairs where constitutional and moral boundaries are violated for vote bank," he said.
"We will not allow them to divide the people and will do whatever necessary to maintain communal harmony and brotherhood. We will stand united for the welfare and the rights of our people, and the unity of our region and communities," Tarigami said. A small group of Rashtriya Bajrang Dal activists led by their president Rakesh Bagrangi staged a protest a few kilometers away from the venue of the meeting.
Bagrangi said they are protesting against the PAGD leadership for holding their meeting in Jammu as "they are a group of traitors''. "They are only speaking against the nation and pressuring the government to talk with Pakistan," he said and condemned the alliance's stand on the delimitation recommendation. "We were in favour of all the seven seats going to Jammu region to end discrimination with the region," he said.
-With PTI Inputs