President of Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement (JKPM) Dr Shah Faesal has cautioned the Center against fiddling with constitutional safeguards guaranteed to the state.
In a statement here he said that “the outrage against the proposed delimitation of Assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir needs to be understood in its right context. Media reports that Centre was considering an early redrawing of the constituency boundaries in J&K , in the run-up to elections , have been a cause of concern for the people of Kashmir. Similar is the case of the proposal related to reducing the term of State Assembly to 5 years.”
He said the move is seen as a step towards changing the Muslim majority character of the state.
While endorsing concerns of the people, Shah Faesal said that delimitation of the State at present was not possible as the state legislature has frozen the process of delimitation till 2026-2031 by amending the J&K Representation of Peoples Act and Section 47(3) of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir.
He added that since a popular government is not in place at the moment and the Governor as a representative of the Centre cannot initiate legislation on critical Constitutional matters of the State, any effort for delimitation would be totally unconstitutional and would further widen the prevailing mistrust among the people of Kashmir.
He said in the year 2002, the amendment in J&K Representation of Peoples Act and Section 47(3) of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, was done to bring the State at par with rest of the country where the delimitation was frozen for the same period. Therefore, the freeze is not about denial of rights to any region or community.
If a growing population necessitates the redrawing of Assembly constituencies let it be done at its right time by establishing a Delimitation Commission after following the due process of law. ” Similar is the case with reservation of SC constituencies. The process has to be fair and transparent and guided by Constitutional principles, ” Shah Faesal added.
He said, clearly any proposal of redrawing of Assembly constituencies at a time when elections are due looks like an attempt at gerrymandering. He said delimitation at present is seen a fraud being committed on the people of J&K, more so the people of Kashmir by snatching their critical stake-holding from the politics of the State. ” There is a serious concern in Kashmir that that demographic uniqueness of the state was under serious threat and the conspiracy about disempowerment of the Kashmiri people was being hatched at the highest level,” he added.
Cautioning the Center against subverting the Constitution for satiating its narrow political gains, Dr Faesal said that the people of Kashmir are well aware about the existential threat looming large over them and would give any sacrifice to protect their Identity and honour.