Delimitations in Indian Occupied Kashmir

A Glaring Indian effort of gerrymandering

On 5 August 2019, the Indian government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi abrogated Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that granted the special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir in terms of autonomy and its ability to formulate laws for the state’s permanent residents. The former state was bifurcated into the Union Territories of Ladakh (without a legislature) and Jammu-Kashmir (with a legislature). This move was taken to promote and spread the Hindutva ideology in the illegally occupied Muslim-majority area as it was considered a roadblock in the Hindutva project.

Furthermore, In March 2020, the delimitation commission was established by the Modi government. The commission has delivered two drafts in December 2021 and February 2022. Now, the J&K Delimitation Panel signed its final order on 5 May 2022, and proposed six additional assembly seats for the Jammu region and only one more seat for Kashmir It was considered as an “assault on political centrality and supremacy” of Kashmir in J&K’s politics and taken as a part of the series of measures started by the BJP-led government from 5 August 2019 to disempower Kashmiris of Indian-Occupied Kashmir.

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Therefore, this shattered the rationale pushed by the Indian government that the ‘delimitation effort’ was aimed to ’empower’ the local population. However, in reality, the new electoral boundaries would further disempower, marginalize and divide the people of the occupied territory. It would only pave the way for installing yet another puppet regime backed by the BJP-RSS combine. However, any illegal, unilateral, and mischievous attempt by India to allow disproportionately higher electoral representation to the Hindu population to the detriment of the Muslim population, is a mockery of all norms of democracy, morality, and India’s obligations under the UN Security Council resolutions and international law.

Amid mounting international concerns over the Indian occupational forces’ human Rights Abuses in Inmdian-Occupied Kashmir, Indian PM Modi visited Indian-Held Kashmir on April 24. This was his first visit since the abrogation of Article 370. Modi visited Indian-Held Kashmir on the occasion of Panchayati Raj Diwas (the national day of the Panchayati Raj System in India). National Panchayati Raj Day provides an opportunity for leaders and others to directly interact with the representatives of the panchayats or village heads across the country. However, the socio-political experts opined that the visit’s real hidden agenda was in the context of pacifying the internationalization of the Kashmir issue in the wake of Indian human rights abuses inIndian-Occupied Kashmir and its political consolidation by the BJP through political coercion or demographic alterations.

Subsequently, the argument has been validated with the signing of the J&K Delimitation Panel’s final order on May 5, and the order will be put into effect from a date announced by the central government paving way for assembly polls. Pakistan has rejected the Indian illegal move because, through this effort, India only wanted to lend legitimacy to its illegal actions of 5 August 2019. It indicates the ulterior motive of the Indian government was evident from the fact that, under the garb of so-called delimitation, the representation of Muslims in the re-designated constituencies had been reduced to their disadvantage.

The people of IIOJK see a dark future under the Indian occupation and now they want to break the shackles of slavery forced upon them illegally by Indian expansionist designs. The Indian justice system has completely failed to stand with the oppressed rather it has turned soft on the oppressors.

It indicates that the real motive of Modi’s visit was to muster support for the finalization and implementation of the J&K Delimitation Commission report. Modi kicked off a convincing campaign to develop a favorable public opinion for the acceptance of recommendations of the commission. The commission has been tasked with redrawing the boundaries of assembly constituencies after the splitting of the state into two Union territories.

Consequently, the commission’s report had come up with sharp criticism, especially from the Kashmir-based political parties, after it had recommended an increase of six seats in Jammu province and one in Kashmir. In the report, the commission maintained the number of Lok Sabha constituencies at five but increased the assembly seats from the present 83 to 90 (adding six in Jammu and one in Kashmir).  Apart from promising to hold elections soon, the PM had told the leaders that J&K’s statehood would be restored after the situation returned to normal.

Traditionally, the BJP-RSS government intends to steer, even manipulate, political factors in its favour in total disregard of the aspirations of the people of Indian-Occupied Kashmir and UN resolutions. India has deliberately done the delimitation, so that it can hold and win elections and legitimize its illegal moves since 5 August 2019 to convince the world of its devotion to the democratic values and processes. Modi’s plan to impose Hindu Raj in Indian-Occupied Kashmir by political coercion, rig the elections through a politically oriented redrawing of constituencies, and throw up a Hindu Chief Minister in disputed Muslim-majority Kashmir has been exposed, and the people of Indian-Occupied Kashmir, its political leadership, and international stakeholders will outright reject any such attempt made by the Indian government.

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The Kashmiri leadership has termed the report as a blatant move of gerrymandering to redraw the limits of constituencies to create a Hindu majority. In representative democracies, gerrymandering refers to the political manipulation of electoral district boundaries with the intent of creating an undue advantage for a party, group, or socio-economic class within the constituency. Two principal tactics are used in gerrymandering: ‘cracking’ and ‘packing’.

The people of IIOJK see a dark future under the Indian occupation and now they want to break the shackles of slavery forced upon them illegally by Indian expansionist designs. The Indian justice system has completely failed to stand with the oppressed rather it has turned soft on the oppressors.

In a nutshell, the Indian government must refrain from bringing any demographic changes in the occupied territory and must hold a free and fair plebiscite under the UN auspices as enshrined in the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Saima Afzal
The writer is an Islamabad based analyst and can be reached at [email protected]

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