Question of delimitation in IOK


Dr Muhammad Khan

Nothing wrong with the process of delimitation itself in Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK), rather it is always good to have this process repeated after a certain time period for drawing the boundaries for the balanced electoral precincts. What is wrong with the delimitation in IOK is the intent of the Indian Government on two account; one, to manipulate the electoral results in the occupied State of Jammu and Kashmir through delimitation and two, for bringing demographic changes in the state, upon attaining the desired number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of the State. This Indian strategy is working at a fast pace since 2014.
A clear intent of the BJP lead Indian Government is to organize elections in all 111 constituencies of the Legislative Assembly which also include 24 seats, otherwise designated for the constituencies of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the Gilgit-Baltistan. These seats remain vacant as per section 48 of the Constitution of IOK. As per the planning of Amit Shah and AjitDoval, the Hindu population, which migrated from West Pakistan in 1947 and thereafter, will be contesting elections on 24 seats, so far kept reserved for AJK and GB.
Since their migration, these Hindus are settled in Jammu Province of the occupied state. BJP Government is crafting a strategy to settle them in Valley for making the desired demographic changes, where Muslim constitutes 95% of the total population of the province. Besides there are other simultaneous strategies working in the Valley area of IOK for bringing demographic changes, like it has been done in the Jammu Province ever since 1947. Land allotment for the secure colonies of Pandits, Sanik colonies, land for Hindu Shrines and additional military cantonments are other strategies, working parallel.
Currently, elections are held for 87 seats and two members (female) are nominated by Governor, making total 89 members of the Legislative Assembly. The distribution of the electoral seats is; the Valley of Kashmir-46 seats, Jammu Province-37 and 4 seats are for the Ladakh region. Apart from this, through the new delimitation in IOK, Indian Government is planning to create another group; the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC and ST), which is anti-thesis to the basic social make-up of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
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 Indian state. There are four social classes in India: “Brahmins (priestly people), the Kshatriyas (also called Rajanyas, who were rulers, administrators and warriors), theVaishyas (artisans, merchants, tradesmen and farmers), and Shudras (labouring classes).” Besides, this secular state has over 300 million Dalit population (untouchables), ‘a class of Indians who are not just considered lower caste, but technically outcaste.’ In a secular and democratic India, the Dalit population is being abused by everyone in all aspects of their lives. Nothing of the sort is there in IOK, despite efforts of Indian Government.
Through this well-crafted delimitation process, Gujjars and Bakarwals, constituting 11.9% of the total population are being considered to be segregated and declared as ST and SC. As per 2011 census, there are 14.9 lakh Gujjars and Bakarwals in the state; Gujjars-9.8 lakh and Bakarwals-1.1 lakh. 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. They are otherwise part of the state and participate in all elections like rest of the population of the state.
Indian Premier, AjitDoval and Amit Shah are trying to classify them as SC and ST for the political gains, since they can be manipulated easily being nomadic, otherwise they can be threatened through murders and rapes like AsifaBano. This 8 years child (AsifaBano), daughter of a Bakarwal was abducted raped and murdered in 2018 in Kathua area of Jammu Province by BJP workers, since her father and family members refused to leave the area as directed by RSS men. Later BJP leaders attended rallies in defence of her rapists, a clear manifestation of Indian intent with delimitation.
On July 27, 2019, Indian Government has decided to immediately airlift another 10,000 troops from various part of India to IOK, the Valley area. The decision was taken after two days visit of Mr AjitDoval to occupied Jammu and Kashmir State. These 100 companies of Indian Army are over and above the 40,000 troops recently moved into the state in the garb of AmarnathYatra security. Indeed, India has intensified its state oppression against the Kashmiri youth in last few months. Besides, it is widely anticipated that, India is likely to announce election in IOK after ensuring delimitation process and diluting Article 35A sooner than later. Indian Government considered that, Kashmiris will put up strong resistance against this manipulation through delimitation in IOK. This additional deployment of Indian troops is apart from 700,000 troops deployed in IOK since 1990. The manipulated delimitation process must be contested by Pakistan, UN, US and international community since it all aims at making demographic changes in IOK. Besides, India is gearing up its unlawful acts like dilution of Article 35A and doing away with Article 370 of Indian Constitution. (Part-I of his article was published on July 08, 2019).
— The writer is Professor of Politics and International Relations at International Islamic University, Islamabad.

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