Srinagar: Asserting that National Conference (NC) opted out of the Delimitation Commission in May, this year, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah said that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was seeking to create Hindu dominance in the Muslim majority region and to divide the erstwhile state on religious lines through the process.
In March 2020, the government of India set up the commission to redraw parliamentary and assembly constituencies based on the recent census in JK, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Nagaland. However, NC opted out of it in May.
“That is because we told them on their face that we do not believe in your delimitation. The BJP has a certain purpose. It wants that in JK, a Hindu majority emerges, and the Muslim majority goes down,” he told a Delhi based newspaper Hindustan Times in a joint interview with his son, Omar Abdullah, who has also served as Chief Minister of JK. “Can you beat what the government of India is trying to do here?”
Calling the commission a product of the constitutional changes brought in August last year, Omar Abdullah said it was to divest JK of its special status and to divide it into two Union territories.
“When we do not recognise those changes, how can we recognise this panel? By participating in its proceedings, we will essentially be lending credence to the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019. When we are fighting this Act, there is no question of participation,” the report quoted Omar Abdullah as saying.
Quoting Omar Abdullah, the report added that commission’s membership does not grant one the veto power. “Our three MPs [members of Parliament] may have been able to share their views, but that would not have been binding on the commission. Our participation would have been used as a rubber stamp.”
He said that a year after the constitutional changes that prompted sweeping measures, including the incarceration of hundreds of people, to prevent protests against them, the political environment in Jammu and Kashmir is in flux again.
Amid all the tensions, Farooq Abdullah, according to the report, has emerged as the prime mover and pivot in the formation of a conglomerate of the six regional parties – some of them sworn rivals – that has posed the first challenge to the Centre by reaffirming commitment to the Gupkar Declaration pegged to the demand for restoration of the special status.
“Any decision [on contesting] will depend first on my party and we will take a call subject to the situation. We will talk to other stakeholders in the Gupkar Declaration. If we are united in this exercise, we will take them on board and decide,” Farooq Abdullah said when HT asked if he would contest the elections.
In March, both Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah were released while another former chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, continues to be under detention under draconian Public Safety Act that allows incarceration for up to two years without trial.
On August 15 event, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi referred to delimitation exercise and said it is underway and assembly elections would follow in JK.
Free Press Kashmir is now on Telegram. Click here to Join.