The reshuffling of constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir was unconstitutional, the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, a collective of political parties, said on Saturday.
The exercise is being conducted under the J&K Reorganization Act, which has been challenged in the Supreme Court, the alliance said.
The alliance, made up of five traditional J&K political parties, also released a white paper that highlighted the situation in the newly formed Union Territory after the repeal of Section 370 in 2019.
On Saturday, the leaders of the alliance met at the residence of the leader of the National Conference (NC) and president of the alliance, Farooq Abdullah. He came against the backdrop of the February 6 Boundary Commission releasing its second draft proposal to Associate Members, comprising the five Union Territory MPs, three from the NC and two from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Abdullah, flanked by top PAGD leaders including former J&K chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti, said: “The white paper was completed today (Saturday) in which the economic sufferings of the people after the revocation of Article 370 are highlighted, which will be shared with the people.
All voters were present during the discussion held on various important issues, including the draft Boundary Commission proposals, PAGD spokesman and Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said.
The demarcation process was due to take place in 2026, and the alliance was not opposed to it, he said. But the current exercise is under the J&K Reorganization Act, which has been challenged in the Supreme Court, Tarigami pointed out.
“The PAGD strongly believes that the current demarcation exercise is being carried out under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, which was challenged in the Supreme Court by the alliance voters. Our position is that what happened on August 5-6, 2019 in parliament was unconstitutional,” Tarigami said. It referred to the repeal of Section 370 and the reorganization of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.
“What happened on August 5 was an imposed decision,” he said. “The silence of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh should not be taken as acceptance of this decision.”
The PAGD spokesman also questioned the recommendations of the boundary commission. In its draft report, the commission proposed major changes in the Lok Sabha assembly and constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly in the Kashmir Valley.
Most J&K parties criticized the commission’s draft report which proposed seven new constituencies, six in Jammu and one in Kashmir.
“Even the basic demarcation parameter – population – was not given due consideration. How did they come to the conclusion to increase by seven seats? Why not six, eight or nine? He asked The head of CPI(M) alleged that even accessibility and geographical proximity, the other criteria in the demarcation process, were ignored.
“Our country has a proper constitution and every exercise must be done in accordance with it,” he said. “The delimitation is done only for Jammu and Kashmir and not for Ladakh.”
The Boundaries Commission was constituted in March 2020. Earlier this week, it received a two-month extension until May 6 to complete the assembly’s constituency redistricting exercise at J&K.
The panel was granted a one-year extension last year. Headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, its ex-officio membership includes Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra and State Election Commissioner KK Sharma.
Tarigami urged the people of the country to make efforts to understand the “suffering” of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. “The people of Kashmir are already suffering, but tomorrow the people of the country may also face similar treatment.”
The PAGD also challenged the government to come up with its own white paper on the development work being done in the union territory. “We challenge them for a debate at all levels, even in parliament,” Tarigami said.