Friday, August 6, 2021
 
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Why Angry on Demanding Jammu’s Political Empowerment?
rejoinder


K B Jandial


It was very disconcerting to find a senior journalist turned banker turned politician, minister and now Kashmiri intellectual, Haseeb Drabu wasting his valuable time and space of his article “Area not a right criteria” (DE July 10, 2021) on an ordinary mortal and digging the past of a “spin doctor” for writing a straight Talk “Will Delimitation Panel end Jammu’s Political Disempowerment? (DE & SN July 8, 2021).

While anyone is welcome to comment on raising Jammu’s sentiments for a fair deal and political empowerment from the visiting Delimitation Commission but he chose to write, inter alia, about the bureaucrat’s “training to hedge his bets”. Well, there is no need to waste newspaper’s space on mundane & personal matters. Since there exist no personal issue, his rejoinder should be taken as reflection of Kashmir’s unease over the spiked Jammu’s aspirations to break the shackles of political inequality and disempowerment.


There is no desire to call Mr. Drabu as intellectual or journalistic dishonest having remained Editor of a reputed national financial daily, but the piece reflects his haughtiness while a friend preferred to call it “venom against Jammu sentiments”.


Drabu wrote against the norm of area being recommended as the main criteria for delimiting the constituencies and instead focused on population. Well, nowhere in the article I have written about any single and particular norm for delimiting the constituencies by the visiting Delimitation Commission. In fact, para 4 of the article unambiguously explained the near identical norms in section 4 of the J&K People’s Representation Act, 1957 and section 9 of the Delimitation Act of 2002 for delimiting constituencies. It was clearly mentioned that, “The assembly constituencies have to be delimited with regards to the census figures of 2001, (it is 2011 census for J&K), geographical compactness, physical features like terrain, facilities of communication & public convenience, existing boundaries of administrative units and limiting wholly within one parliamentary constituency.” Yes, the article also mentioned in para 8 about the vastness of Jammu region. Drabu’s comparison with Ladakh is inappropriate as the latter has huge uninhabited or sparsely inhabited areas unlike the both regions of the UT. But, at the same time, the factor of vastness of area had led to creation of new constituencies of Nobra and Zanskar with small electorate of 13054 and 21143 respectively. This has been the central piece of my article. Similarly, reference to Jodhpur & Kutch too is irrelevant as there are no sentiments of one region dominating other region politically and existence of perpetual regional discrimination in those States unlike ours. One can dig out examples, for and against, in north east States but in J&K, the issue has always been of discrimination and political hegemony of one region over other that makes these factors relevant. Ladakh separated mainly because of it. In J&K we always talk about assembly seats region-wise while UT should be taken as one unit for delimitation.


The reference to Khajuria Advocates formula in their Book on delimitation was made only as a new idea which of course, doesn’t compliment with the norms mandated in Section 9 of Delimitation Act, 2002. But the people need to discuss it along with the serious objections raised by Drabu.


No motive is attributed to Drabu’s silence to the arbitrary allotment of 30 seats to Jammu and 43 to Kashmir in 1951 and this disparity was carried forward till date with increased numbers. It is argued that the manipulated imbalance in assembly seats was deliberately strategized by Sheikh Abdullah to ensure Kashmir’s domination over Jammu & Ladakh. Since then the balance of power has remained with Kashmir. He is also silent on Jammu’s suspicion on unusual growth of population shown in the 2011 census which some Jammu based organisations call “fudged”.


Taking population, which has direct linkage with size of electorate, as criteria for carving out assembly constituencies and the charge of deliberate imbalance in number of seats, there are some telling facts that show bias against Jammu and its disempowerment. As per 2014 election data, 43.22 % of Jammu assembly constituencies (in terms of nos, 9 out of 37 seats) had more than one lakh electorate-highest with1,68,643 electors in Gandhinagar against just 10.86 % seats (in terms of nos, 5 out of 46 seats) in Kashmir region Batmalloo with 1,20,339 electors. In term of constituencies with electorate of less than 40000, Kashmir has two constituencies-Gurez & Karnah, while none in Jammu despite the fact that 87 % of its area is hilly and difficult and easily qualified for separate constituencies in far flung hilly pockets in Rajouri- Poonch, Reasi, Ramnagar, Ramban.


Raising voice for justice for Jammu empowerment, howsoever it may sound improper to Kashmir, should not make their intellectuals and senior political leaders angry. They should desist from scooping too low to vent their fury and frustration, more so when tomorrow they happen to become Ministers again, how would they face Jammu people who are otherwise soft, peace loving, respectful, accommodating and much better human beings. Political empowerment is their right and demanding it is no ground to demean the one raise it, Mr. Drabu.



(The Author is a retired IAS officer, feedback: [email protected])




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