The delimitation exercise in Jammu and Kashmir will be transparent in nature and there should be no fears and doubts over it, Justice (retired) Ranjana Prakash Desai said on Friday, seeking to dispel apprehensions among a section of political leaders and people that it is a pre-planned exercise guided by the agenda of a political party. Desai, who heads the Delimitation Commission, was on a four-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir along with its other members to gather “first hand” inputs on the conduct of the mega exercise to redraw constituencies and carve out new ones in the union territory.
The commission said the exercise would be done according to the Census of 2011 and that the 24 assembly seats falling in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) will remain vacant and are out of its preview. “I assure you from myself and my colleagues that the exercise is going to be transparent as per laid down law. I do not think anybody should have any such apprehensions,” Justice (retd) Desai told reporters here.
She was replying to a question about apprehensions expressed by a section of political parties and people in Kashmir that it is a pre-planned exercise guided by the agenda of a political party. “The exercise will be transparent in nature and there should be no fears and doubts. We can only talk to those who want to participate in the process. Those who don’t want to, have their own choice,” she said.
She said, “We are confident that we will finish this task as per laid down law in a transparent manner. Otherwise we would have not been coming here and spending these days hearing all.” Replying to another question about the PDP staying away from its proceedings, she said the commission wishes they had taken part. “All other parties participated,” she added. The Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP stayed away from its proceedings stating that there was a perception that the outcome of the process was preplanned.
Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra, who is also part of the commission, said they had come here with an open mind. “If we had something in mind and had decided earlier, the commission would not have come here to hear from people. We are very clear on this that nothing has been decided,” he said.
“Before starting the exercise, we want to have the views of all persons. These apprehensions in the mind of any person, if at all, should go away,” he said. Chandra said the draft prepared by the commission will be put in public domain for objections and queries. They said the associate members of the commission will also be consulted when preparing the final draft.
He said the exercise to re-draw boundaries of Assembly constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir is a very complex issue and not mere arithmetic. On the demand of defreezing of 24 PoK seats, he said that it is clearly mentioned in the law that these constituencies should remain vacant and will be out of the preview of the Delimitation Commission.
A delegation of the BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir unit on Thursday met the Delimitation Commission and demanded the unfreezing of the 24 assembly seats falling in PoK to grant reservation to people displaced from PoK, Kashmir Pandits, SCs and STs. The commission met different delegations in Kashmir on July 6 and July 7 and in Jammu on July 8 and July 9.
The commission met over 290 delegations comprising over 800 people. Asked whether Jammu will get Justice this time as it has faced discrimination with regard to political empowerment, Chandra said that for the commission, Jammu and Kashmir is one union territory. “We see it as one entity. We do not bifurcate between Kashmir and Jammu,” he added. He said the visit of the commission was to ascertain ground realities. It is not arithmetical exercise, it is not mathematical exercise, it was to know genuine concerns of the public, to know genuine difficulties of the people,” he said.