IIOJK: Redrawing political constituencies through delimitation
THE people of entire Jammu and Kashmir are highly grieved and uncomfortable over the new Indian strategy of changing the demography of their state by redrawing the political constituencies for next elections.
The illegally constituted delimitation commission of India for Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), has so far decided 90 assembly constituencies for two provinces of the state; Jammu and Kashmir, leaving a side the third province, Ladakh for next round.
This commission has recommended 43 seats for Jammu province, an increase of six seats from the existing one while recommending 47 seats for Kashmir province, an increase of just one seat from the existing numbers.
As per new political constituencies, the Hindu majority Jammu has been given greater representation over the Muslim-majority Kashmir Province.
It is pertinent to mention that, as per earlier practice, the Legislative Assembly of IIOJK had 89 seats with a broad province wise distribution; a) Kashmir province-46 seats, b) Jammu Province-37 and c) Ladakh province had 4 seats.
Elections used to be held for 87 seats and two members (female) used to be nominated by Governor, making total 89 members of the Legislative Assembly.
The entire exercise of redrawing the political constituencies in IIOJK is aimed at achieving two broad objectives.
One: politically legitimizing and reinforcing the process of demographic changes, being made in the occupied state ever since April 2020.
Two: Paving the way for Hindu rule of BJP/RSS in IIOJK. In this regard, India introduced a new domicile law for IIOJK on April 1, 2022.
This law was named as. “Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate (procedure) rules, 2020”.
It allowed issuance of Kashmiri domicile certificates to non-Kashmiris on various illegal pretexts to change the ratio of Muslim population in the state, especially the Kashmir province.
Ever since imposition of this rule in IIOJK, millions of non-Kashmiri Hindus from various parts of India have been provided with the domicile certificates of the state in last two years.
Earlier India illegally and unilaterally changed the status of IIOJK from a state to two union territories on August 5, 2019; the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh.
This Indian act was against the UN Charter, UNCIP and UNSC resolutions and above all it was a violation of Constitution of IIOJK and even against the basic structure of India.
This all was done while imposing curfew in IIOJK besides striking a massive clam-down to besiege the masses from protesting against this illegal act.
India is continuingthe process of curfew and camp-down even today with massive human rights violations and genocide of youth.
As per two UNSC resolutions (UNSC Resolution-91 and UNSC Resolution-122) India had no legal provisions for changing the status of the stateof Jammu and Kashmir, it had occupied for over seven decades.
Kashmiris are not allergic to the process of delimitation itself in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). With the rise in population, the delimitation becomes essentially important.
What bothers the people of Kashmir is the intent of the India from the entire process; occupation to subjugation and relation of state from statehood to union territories and now the demographic changes and redrawing the political constituencies, paving way for a Hindi rule over Muslim state.
This Indian strategy is working since 2014 with a revised mandate to illegal delimitation commission of India after August 5, 2019.
In past three decades India has been working on two segments of population in IIOJK; the Hindu migrants, who migrated from West Pakistan in 1947 and temporarily settled in Jammu Province of the IIOJK and Kashmiri nomads; Gujjars and Bakarwals.
Indian Government has been crafting a strategy to settle the Hindu migrants in Valley for making the desired demographic changes, where Muslim constitutes 95% of the total population of the province.
Besides there having been other simultaneous strategies working for the Valley area of IIOJK for bringing demographic changes; Land allotment for the secure colonies of Pandits, Sanik colonies, land for Hindu Shrines and additional military cantonments.
Apart from this, Indian Government has been planning to create another group; the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC and ST) in IIOJK.
Historically, there have been no SC and ST in any part of the state, since there is no social division in the state, the way India has in its integral parts, which makes Jammu and Kashmir different from India.
Through this well-crafted delimitation process, Gujjars and Bakarwals, constituting 11.9% of the total population were/ are being considered to be segregated and declared as ST and SC.
They all are Muslims and living like other Muslims without any discrimination since centuries.
They cannot be declared as SC or ST just because they have nomadic form of living; summer in the Valley and winter in the Jammu area since both are part of the same state and they are state subjects.
Pakistan protested against redrawing of the political constituencies in IIOJK and handed over a demarche to Indian Charge d’Affairs.
The Foreign Office conveyed Pakistan’s categorical rejection of the report of the so-called ‘Delimitation Commission’ which aims at disenfranchising and disempowering the Muslim majority population of IIOJK.
However, it is not enough; rather it is a normal minimum procedure.
The state and Government of Pakistan need to act in all possible political and diplomatic means to stop India from making demographic and political changes in IIOJK.
It must reach over to all legal international forums for the stoppage of illegal Indian changes in IIOJK and restoration of its pre-August 5, 2019 status besides stoppage of the process of Kashmiri’s genocide.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.