PAGD to challenge Delimitation Comm report in SC collectively, if not changed

PAGD leaders at a press conference in Jammu on Tuesday. —Excelsior/Rakesh
PAGD leaders at a press conference in Jammu on Tuesday. —Excelsior/Rakesh

NC MPs to submit objections to Panel

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Dec 21: The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) has decided to collectively challenge the Delimitation Commission report in the Supreme Court if it was finalized in the present form despite objections given by three National Conference MPs, who are Associate Members of the Commission as well as part of the PAGD.

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Gupkar Alliance spokesperson MY Tarigami told the Excelsior that the three National Conference MPs–Dr Farooq Abdullah, Mohammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi will submit objections to the Delimitation Commission before December 31 which have been invited by the Panel from the Associate Members in its meeting held yesterday.
“If the Commission doesn’t correct itself even after the objections, the Gupkar Alliance will be collectively challenging its report in the Apex Court,” Tarigami said.
The PAGD has decided to hold peaceful dharna on January 1 at Srinagar against recommendations of the Commission. It appealed to Gujjar and Pahari speaking people to remain united.
Earlier in the day, the PAGD held its three-hour long meeting in Jammu, which was chaired by National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah.
The Gupkar Alliance termed the draft report of the Delimitation Commission on Jammu and Kashmir as “divisive and unacceptable”.
Addressing the media after a meeting of the amalgam, Tarigami alleged that the ruling BJP has nothing to offer to Jammu and Kashmir except hatred and is “creating a wedge” between communities.
Separately, National Conference leader Hasnain Masoodi said the party will file its objections to the Commission’s recommendations with documentary evidence within the next 10 days.
Tarigami, who addressed the media in the presence of PAGD chairperson Dr Farooq Abdullah and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, among others, said the leaders of the amalgam are of the view that the recommendations of the Delimitation Commission are “divisive and unacceptable”.
Responding to a question about their objection to increasing the number of seats in Jammu, Tarigami said, “Jammu is ours and we are here to represent them as well.”
“There should be some criteria (for the delimitation exercise). The census has taken place in 2011 and it has been made the baseline for it,” he said.
The Kashmir division currently has 46 seats and Jammu 37. The population of Jammu region is 53.72 lakh and Kashmir division 68.83 lakh, according to the 2011 Census.
Tarigami said the BJP is talking about mainstreaming everything, but “when we want mainstreaming, they do not agree with our proposal. Why are they in a hurry? They have downgraded the historic Dogra state without talking with the real stakeholders. Is this in favour of Jammu’s aspirations?”
“They are creating a wedge between communities and a division of communities is not acceptable to us,” he added.
On the Commission’s proposal to reserve nine seats for Scheduled Castes, Tarigami said, “We are not questioning that. We are only concerned with one thing and that is we are being divided. There are already many divisions and please do not add to this long list as we want to stay together.”
Alleging that the BJP has nothing to offer to Jammu and Kashmir except “hatred”, he said it has deliberately come out with such a controversial recommendation to divert attention from the real issues of price hike of essential commodities and growing unemployment.
“The Prime Minister has promised ‘achhe din’ (good days) and we want him to at least identify one such good day for the nation and Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
NC leader Masoodi told reporters that the party will file its objections to the panel’s recommendations with documentary evidence within the next 10 days.
“We have already informed the commission in the meeting itself that the whole exercise is not in accordance with the Constitution and is offending its core values.
“There are petitions (with regard to the reorganization of J&K) pending in Supreme Court… The chairperson of the commission presented the interim draft proposal, to which we strongly objected and made it clear that it is not acceptable. We asked the commission what is the baseline for the report and were told that (it is the) 2011 census,” he said.
The NC leader said after “our strong objection, the commission gave us 10 days’ time till the month-end to file our objections.”
“We are working to file our objections within the time frame based on data and other documentary evidence,” Masoodi said.
The Delimitation Commission has divided all 20 districts of Jammu and Kashmir into three broad categories A, B and C giving margin of 10 per cent (plus/minus) of average population per Assembly constituency, while proposing allocation of the constituencies to the districts.
Yesterday, the Commission had announced that out of seven seats increased in the UT Assembly, six are proposed to be allocated to Jammu division and one in Kashmir valley.