IT is worrisome that the re-elected Modi government’s first policy initiative on J&K is only deepening the rift between the Valley and the mainland. This is not the opportune moment to discuss delimitation in J&K. Delimitation is merely a process to fix territorial limits for constituencies that elect a legislative body. These limits or boundaries are periodically updated (as in 1952, ’63, ’73 and 2002) for legislative bodies to have uniform constituencies with similar number of voters. Now, the Gurez Assembly segment in the Valley has only 19,000 voters, whereas Jammu West has 1.5 lakh in the voter list. It might seem logical to correct this anomaly. But not now; unfortunately, J&K is going through one of the worst nightmares of radicalisation and alienation. Any reference to demographic adjustments or redrawing of maps even of Assembly constituencies within the state will give rise to fears of further marginalisation of the Valley and would be read as a part of the BJP’s agenda to abrogate Articles 370 and 35 A and to communalise the entire environment.
PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah should remember that it was BJP’s first Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and his deputy LK Advani who had kept J&K out of the delimitation process in 2002, prompting the Farooq Abdullah government to amend the state Constitution to postpone the delimitation process in the state till 2026. This decision was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2010.
It is foolish on two counts to undo all those careful measures taken to tread softly on the sentiments of the Valley. One, as a nation we cannot afford to push a large group of our citizens into the waiting laps of the Pak military-intelligence establishment that is carrying out a proxy war against India. Two, this goes against the letter and spirit of the speech made by the PM after the election results on his approach towards minorities. Any ultra muscular move in J&K will be perceived as an attack on minorities. Finally, Islamist secessionism cannot be dealt with Hindutva majoritarianism.