Recently, the Delimitation Commission of India visited the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It met the leaders of political parties, public representatives, community and other organisations’ activists and also the pivotal persons in charge of the administration in the UT. This author was also instrumental in making a presentation before the Commission on 8th July 2021 at Jammu.
Immediately after the meeting with the Commission, I sent a letter to the hon’ble Prime Minister of Bharat on 11th July 2021. Some important excerpts of the letter are given below:
“At an outset, I express my thanks to you, the Delimitation Commission & the Election Commission of India for providing the undersigned and my team(s) two opportunities (one at Delhi & one at Jammu) to make our presentations before them. As desired by the Delimitation Commission, some important documents were also submitted before them on 8th July 2021 at Jammu.
It is also important to acknowledge that the BJP unit of Jammu & Kashmir gracefully pleaded the case of reservation/nomination of the minorities of Kashmir including the Kashmiri Pandits before the Delimitation Commission on 8th July 2021 at Jammu. This is quite in tune with the history, tradition & legacy of the BJP in this regard.
Having said that, I invite a reference to my letter dated 14 June, 2021 addressed to the Hon’ble MoS in the PMO. I would reiterate that after our interaction with the Delimitation Commission, it is now the turn of the PMO and the Ministry of Home Affairs to act in connection with providing accommodation to the displaced minorities of Kashmir (including Kashmiri Pandits, Kashmiri Sikhs and the non-Kashmiri speaking Hindus of Kashmir) in the process of Delimitation.
It is obligatory to bring an Amendment in the J&K Reorganisation Act of 2019 to accord sanction to Reservation of these unrepresented minorities of the valley in the J&K Assembly and also in the Parliament. The Delimitation Commission’s terms of reference demand such an amendment in order to empower it to proceed ahead in this regard. In an alternative, the Nominations option also needs the required amendment to the Act. We append herewith a Draft of Amendment in this regard for consideration at your level……
Since the issue has a direct link with the ultimate goal of the resettlement of the Kashmiri Pandits in Kashmir, the reservation or nomination in the J&K Assembly assumes great importance. This is the only opportunity available to realise justice for that segment of the society that has been forced to live as refugees in its own country and which continues to remain politically unrepresented due to the earlier policies of the governments.
Amendment to J&K Reorganisation Act of 2019
People and the Geography are inalienably integral to the whole electoral regime of which the Delimitation of Assembly constituencies is an important component. Precisely, to mark the point the Delimitation Act 2002 lays emphasis on Census (Section-8) and compactness of Geography (Section-9) for delineation of Assembly or Parliamentary Constituencies.
Herein lies the tragedy for the displaced KPs. Thirty years back circumstances, not of their making, threw them out of Kashmir which has been their ancestral home for the last thousands of years, and presently, stand scattered all over the globe. So, both Census and Geography elude them. There has been no head count of them, nor do they have the Geographic compactness to live in presently. With the result, KPs stand thrown out of the electoral regime. This amounts to their disenfranchisement and denial of citizenry rights which are available to their compatriots in the country.
In addition, this constitutes a grave violation of Human Rights. There can be no worse example of a whole community being excluded from the electoral process. The situation goes against the letter and spirit of Delimitation process.
Affirmative Action is called for to bring the displaced KPs within the fold of the electoral process. Reservation for Buddhist lamas called the ‘Sangha Lamas’ Assembly Constituency in Sikkim and Art 333 for representation of Anglo-Indian community in the legislature could be the guide. The Sangha constituency is called ‘constituency without geography’ which has stood the test of constitutionality.
The above may also be read as Aims and Objects for the amendments we propose to be incorporated in Sections 14 and 60 of The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act 2019 –No 34 of 2019.
In Sec 14(6) & (7) and Section 60 (1) (a) & (b) add Displaced Pandits defined as “Migrant “ in Sec 2 (e) of The Jammu And Kashmir Migrant Immovable Property (Preservation, Protection And Restraint on Distress Sales ) Act 1997.
Should a need arise to achieve the purpose, other provisions of the Act may also be suitably amended”.
In a previous missive to the MoS in PMO last week, we sought an amendment to the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act of 2019, thereby creating an accommodation for such reservation or nomination for the minorities of Kashmir including Kashmiri Pandits, Kashmiri Sikhs and non-Kashmiri speaking Hindus of Kashmir valley.
I have been consistently saying that that the Delimitation process is a test of the intent of the Indian state vis a vis the displaced Kashmiri Pandits about whom it is always said that ‘Kashmir is incomplete without Kashmiri Pandits’. This is the right time to translate an intent into an action. This will also ensure a new vista for resettlement of the community back in Kashmir”.
What was done to the minorities of Kashmir needs no elucidation, bringing them now in the process of political representation and empowerment on a permanent basis will be the biggest measure to build confidence among them leading to further advancement regarding their resettlement in the valley in due course of time.
Extraordinary situations demand extraordinary solutions and here is the one that needs the same. Our founding fathers of the constitution had no idea that a minuscule minority in any part of the country would be forced to live as refugees for more than three decades.
This is the time to end their being politically unrepresented and marginalised for the last almost five decades. We all know that if it can’t be done now, it can never happen and if there is any particular period in which it can be done, it is now and here under the benevolent leadership of the PM, Narendra Damodardas Modi…..!
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