Delimitation of Kashmir is nothing but ‘a planned disempowerment of Kashmiri Muslims’: Gilani

Statesman Report

Islamabad: ‘The continuous divisions and sub-divisions of Kashmir since 1947 have not only shrunk the geography of Kashmir but the voices and the power of its people too’ said Iftikhar Gilani, adding that dividing Kashmiri Muslims was a real agenda of India’s delimitation scheme for Jammu and Kashmir.

Gilani was speaking to a webinar organized by the Institute of Regional Studies on ‘Politics of Delimitation in J&K and Its Impact’. 

The speaker dispelled the impression that Ladakh was a Buddhist majority region. Quoting from Kashmir Census 2011, he said that ‘Buddhists account for 39.65 percent, Hindu 12.11 percent whereas Muslims account for 46.40 percent.’ So, with that, Ladakh stood a Muslim-dominated region, he reiterated.

While commenting on the Kashmir Reorganization Act 2019, Gilani said that it was part and parcel of Indian political engineering in J&K that aimed at strengthening the footholds of Hindus in the J&K assembly and playing down Muslims’ political rights in Jammu and Kashmir. The Delimitation Commission has been given the mandate to draw new demarcations along the lines of Modi’s secret mission to bring demographic changes in Kashmir, he added.

Knowing the strength of the Muslim population in J&K, the Indian government was considering ‘area’ as a criterion instead of ‘population’ for new constituencies for the Hindu majority Jammu Division, said Gilani. Despite the Muslim majority in Kashmir Valley, there was a likelihood of distribution of equal seats (45 each) to Jammu and Kashmir valley divisions, he opined. Commenting on another proposal to reserve 18 seats (9 for each J&K) out of total seats for Scheduled Castes/Dalits/Lower Caste Hindu and Scheduled Tribes or Tribal group, Gilani said it was indeed alarming as it would further reduce Muslim presentation in the assembly.

Gilani also cautioned that the Muslim majority might be tagged under the ‘reserved seats’ in the new delimitation plan particularly for the Jammu division. There were instances in India where Dalits/Scheduled Caste were kept under the general category but Muslim majority in the reserved, said Gilani. While looking back at the history of Indian electoral maneuverings one cannot rule out the possibility of keeping the Muslim majority in the ‘reserved seats’ so that they couldn’t contest and win elections, he stressed.

Gilani also told participants about the gradual decline of Muslim presence in J&K’s bureaucracy which he called a ‘deliberate attempt’ by the Indian government to reduce Muslim seats without any opposition.

Gilani was also highly skeptical about Modi’s plan to restore Kashmir statehood which he disclosed in a meeting with the leaders of mainstream Kashmiri political parties back in June 24 this year. According to Modi’s plan, only the new assembly of J&K (formed as the result of elections on new demarcations) through a resolution can request the Indian government to return the statehood for which the ‘Indian Home Ministry will then draft and present legislation to the Parliament, said Gilani.

While concluding his talk Gilani said that the whole scheme of delimitation of J&K is nothing but a planned disempowerment of Kashmiri people particularly the Muslims. He regretted the silence of the international community on Indian nefarious designed in J&K that are essentially targeted at ‘political imprisonment of Kashmiris’.