J&K – The issues around the state

With delimitation over, a look at the slate for J&K

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Delimitation for Jammu and Kashmir Assembly

Context

Fresh delimitation was necessary for Jammu and Kashmir since the State had been divided into two Union Territories and elections could only be held under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.

Issues with the report of the Delimitation Commission

  • The central question of why Jammu has gained six Assembly seats and the Valley only one has been brushed under general remarks on methodology with no explanation of how that methodology was applied.
  • Nor does it explain why Jammu’s Muslim-majority seats now comprise less than a quarter of the province’s total seats, though Muslims comprise over a third of the province’s population.
  • The commission’s recommendations further complicate the issue.
  • They propose that the President nominate Pandit migrants to two Assembly seats — why is there no reference to Pandits who remain in the Valley?
  • Indeed, the only overarching guideline which the report does describe in some detail is the commission’s desire to match the boundaries of Assembly and parliamentary constituencies.
  • Most of these questions were addressed to the commission during its consultation phase.
  •  By choosing not to do so they lost a valuable opportunity to display transparency and dispel suspicion of bias.

Way forward

  • The only hope for a peace process in Jammu and Kashmir is if there is a clean election, statehood is speedily restored, and the new Assembly determines whether or in which form special status is required. 
  • The better option is to hold elections for existing constituencies and let the new assembly approve or query the delimitation report.
  • In fact, the commission itself proposed that the report be placed before the legislative assembly, a recommendation that makes sense only if new delimitation comes into force after and not before elections.
  • Urgent as elections are, attention to fundamental freedoms is even more important.

Conclusion

The peace process in Jammu and Kashmir needs to address the concerns of the people related to the restoration of statehood, and clean elections.

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