The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), J&K’s mainstream political alliance, on Saturday rejected the proposed changes to Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies in J&K, stating that the move will “further alienate” the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Chairman of the alliance and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah said: “They say they want to bring people together and remove their difficulties. So, they are trying to demarcate constituencies in such a way that it is easy for people to have their cases projected. It doesn’t seem that this delimitation has done that. They have further alienated people.”
Calling the proposed changes to the constituencies unfortunate, Abdullah said: “Election is the basis of democracy and the very first thing for that is the delimitation report. What they have done is very unfortunate. Look at the parliamentary constituency of Anantnag. How is an MP from Rajouri going to look after the people on this side of the mountain? Or the one elected here (Kashmir Province) going to look after the constituents in Poonch and Rajouri? This is one instance.”
The alliance put together a White Paper, detailing “the implications of the Centre’s decisions in J&K for people across the country”.
PAGD spokesman and senior CPM leader MY Tarigami said: “We are presenting facts in front of the people of the entire country that while our people continue to suffer, such dictatorial actions on part of the government will not benefit anyone. Since the historic tragedy of August 5, they have been attempting to build a new narrative about making a ‘naya Kashmir’. The narrative of naya Kashmir, just like that of naya Hindustan, is being built by destroying the old.”
Saying that the PAGD was not against delimitation or the electoral and political process, he said: “The country functions within a constitutional framework and if actions are taken within the ambit of this framework, we have no objections. Delimitation will be carried out excluding Ladakh, only for the UT of J&K. We consider that this process has no constitutional validity.”
He also questioned the move to increase seven seats in J&K as a Union Territory and sought to understand the reasons for the arithmetic. “By what measure is it seven seats, why not eight or more? What is the basis?” he said, adding that under the Delimitation Act, Census was the basis for any delimitation, population was the criteria and convenience, accessibility and topography were also considered. He said: “The Delimitation Commission constituted for J&K has placed considerations but ignored criterion (of population). So, the basic structure and constitution of delimitation commission itself is not acceptable to the PAGD.”
Tarigami said: “Through the White Paper we want to urge the people of the country to reject this notion that the decisions of August 5, 2019, that were forced upon us have been accepted. Don’t confuse our silence with acceptance.”
The 35-page White Paper highlights the significance of the Constitutional guarantees provided under Article 370 and seeks “deep introspection and course correction” as a way forward. The PAGD has reiterated its demand for revocation of the decisions taken in August 2019 and “restore the autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir”.