In the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, after having threadbare discussions with the political parties, civil society groups and NGO heads, the Delimitation Commission today said that the exercise to re-draw boundaries of Assembly constituencies of the UT is a “very complex issue and not a mere arithmetic.”
The commission, however, said that the process will be completed in a very transparent manner and the draft prepared by it will be put in a public domain for objections and queries after which associate members of the commission will also be consulted for preparing the final draft. The members of the commission, however, hinted at giving a due representation to the people belonging to ST and SC groups in the J&K UT in the newly constituted Assembly.
Addressing a presser in Jammu on the last day of the four-day long visit, Sushil Chander, Chief Election Commissioner of India, who is the Ex-officio member of J&K Delimitation Commission said, in the past four days, the commission met 290 groups comprising 800 persons in Srinagar, Pahalgam, Kishtwar and Jammu.
There was an overwhelming response and people travelled from long distances to meet us. Chander said that J&K officials provided them with the details of last available census that is 2011, patwar halqas and the district areas, population figures etc. “In the last census done in 2001, there were only 12 districts and the number of districts has now gone up to 12. Similarly, there were only 58 tehsils, which at present are 270. We could observe that there is a huge administrative overlapping of patwar halqas due to which people are facing huge inconvenience,” he said.
He further said that they did not just meet the leaders from the political parties, but civil society groups, lawyers, individuals, tribals, local bodies leaders and heads of NGOs too.“We are quite happy to see great participation in the process. I would say that difficult terrain wasn’t acknowledged in the earlier delimitation done in 1995. Population has to be the main criteria for delimitation but priority will be also the area, geography, topography and also the communication facilities of the areas,” he said. Worth to mention, the Assembly seats in J&K were delimited in 1963, 1973 and 1995.
The last exercise was conducted by Justice (retired) K K Gupta Commission when the state was under President’s Rule and was based on the 1981 census, which formed the basis of the state elections in 1996. There was no census in the state in 1991 and no Delimitation Commission was set up by the then state government after the 2001 census as the J&K Assembly had passed a law putting a freeze on the fresh delimitation of seats until 2026.