‘Concerned about legality, timing of delimitation but expect transparent process’
Anantnag: Politicians from unionist parties who met members of the Jammu and Kashmir Delimitation Commission in Pahalgam area of Anantnag district on Wednesday have unanimously said that they expect the process of delimitation to be a “fair” one, but they have concerns about the legality and the timing of the process.
The politicians told Kashmir Reader that they have put forth their reservations about the “early” delimitation process in the erstwhile state. The commission, headed by Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, reached Pahalgam this morning and held meetings with political figures from different parts of the south Kashmir region.
Media persons were not allowed near the venue of the meeting, the Pahalgam Club. However, the politicians did talk to journalists soon after they met the commission.
Former MLA from Pahalgam and a member of the National Conference, Altaf Kuloo, told the media that he questioned the constitutionality of the revocation of Article 370.
“We told them that they should have waited for the Supreme Court verdict on the plea we have made against the August 5 decision,” Kuloo said. “Having said that, the meeting was cordial and we hope that the process, whenever it is started, is free and fair.”
Towqeer Ahmad, a retired judge and a member of the NC, however, maintained that his party was going to tell the commission that the delimitation process was not legally sound.
“We want to tell our people that we intimated the commission about the constitutional invalidity of the delimitation process,” Towqeer said.
Another former MLA from Pahalgam, Muhammad Rafi Mir, who has switched sides from NC to PDP and now is a member of the Apni Party, said that he also voiced concerns about the early delimitation process.
“The delimitation process was put on halt till 2026 through a law in our erstwhile state. But there is a fait accompli now and being a political party we believe we should be part of this process,” Mir said, adding that his party expects the process to be conducted in a transparent manner.
He said that there was a notion among people that the decisions regarding delimitation have already been taken and these meetings were futile. “It would be great if the notion is dispelled,” Mir said.
Citing precisely this notion, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Awami National Party (ANC) have decided to stay away from these meetings. Mehbooba Mufti had voiced concerns after other parties accepted the invitation of the commission.
From the Congress, former MLA from Shangus, Gulzar Ahmad Wani, headed the party delegation. Wani said that his party sought an outline of the delimitation plans from the commission.
“They have been working on this for more than a year now and we have no idea about what is happening. We have sought an outline of the plans they want to execute in the erstwhile state,” Wani said, adding that the delegation also raised concerns of their state president, Ghulam Ahmad Mir, about the delimitation process.
Mir on Tuesday had said that delimitation was not an option till 2026, in accordance with the decisions taken in Parliament.
Some lesser-known politicians could also be seen thronging the venue to meet this delimitation commission. Among them was BJP’s Muhammad Rafiq Wani, who has been made the head of the delimitation process for BJP in south Kashmir.
Wani, while talking to the media, said that a delimitation process was necessary to give marginalised people their rights. “The political parties in Kashmir have been doing whatever they pleased. But now, refugees and other marginalised people should get their rights in this delimitation process,” he said.