DOST KHAN / ANCHOR
JAMMU: Lok Sabha 2019 elections will go in the annals of democratic history of India as the nation’s pledge to uphold national security at all costs; come what may. The world knows well that India’s national security essentially revolves around Jammu and Kashmir-be it the challenge posed by Pakistan sponsored terrorism or border skirmishes along Line of Control or International Border. During the just concluded elections, Indian people forgot the pains of economic reforms like demonetisation and cumbersome GST process besides unemployment, inflation etcetera and stood like a rock behind Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who they saw as a most muscular Indian face to take head on the rogue nation in the country’s backyard and its lackeys in Kashmir-both in the separatist and the so-called mainstream camps. Now that the elections are over and Modi is back in the cradle of power for five years, he will have to deliver, mainly on the national security front, as expectations are soaring. He cannot afford to dilute his image as the national crusader. The recent elections were not between the BJP and rest of the Opposition but these were almost presidential form like polls with Narendra Modi at the centre-stage. Therefore, he can’t look to the other side anymore. Resolution of Kashmir issue poses a big challenge for the Prime Minister, especially as Pakistan is not going to give up and her agents in separatist and mainstream camps back home in the Valley will seize every opportunity to keep the pot boiling. Kashmir is, in a way, test for Modi’s larger than life muscular persona. Therefore, he will have to draw a strategy on political level to deal with the situation while keeping on the ongoing military campaign against terrorists. Many options are available to the Prime Minister. First and foremost option for Narendra Modi would be to ensure equitable political empowerment to all the three regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Except for the Valley, the other two regions, especially Jammu has been craving for equal participation in the decision making. During over seven decades of accession, the sensitive State has been ruled by Kashmiri rulers and that too from a particular religion. Post 1947, no non Muslim has ever been either the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister of the State. This is because of the illogical and unfair share of seats allocated to the three regions-46 to the Kashmir Valley, 37 to Jammu and four to Ladakh regions. Jammu feels deprived politically notwithstanding its size of population and vastness of the landmass that called for more seats than Kashmir. Jammu has been seeking delimitation of assembly and parliamentary constituencies, which has however blocked by the Kashmir centric rulers. Jammu and Kashmir witnessed the last delimitation exercise in 1995 when the Delimitation Commission headed by Justice (Retd) K. K Gupta did the job in most challenging circumstances. Ordinarily, the delimitation of the constituencies is required to be undertaken after every ten years but in Jammu and Kashmir, a blanket ban was imposed till 2026, ostensibly to deprive the Jammu region of its legitimate right, as also to maintain Kashmir hegemony on the political landscape. In 2002, the then government froze delimitation until 2026 by amending Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act 1957 and Section 47(3) of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. The amended Section 47(3) provided “that until the relevant figures for the first census taken after the year 2026 have been published, it shall not be necessary to readjust the total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of the State and the division of the State into territorial constituencies under this sub-section”. When it comes to the Jammu region, the Kashmir centric rulers emerge as obstructionists. On the contrary, they can bring a law under The Jammu & Kashmir Grant of Permit for Resettlement in (or Permanent Return to) the State Act, 1982, to “provide for regulation of procedure for grant of permit for resettlement in or permanent return to the State of the permanent residents” and their descendants who had migrated to Pakistan between March 1, 1947 and May 14, 1954 but not the delimitation because the enactment of resettlement benefits a particular segment of population. The law, however, is currently under judicial review. The delimitation of constituencies being a remote probability at this point of time when the elections to the Legislative Assembly are most likely to be held later this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi government has a viable and logical option left to ensure political empowerment of every segment of society by giving representation to the displaced people of Pakistan occupied Kashmir, who number 36, 348 families, as per conservative estimates. There is a provision for such a mechanism under the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, which under Section 48, reserves 24 seats in the 111-member Assembly for the area under Pakistani occupation (since 1947-48). Members of the diaspora of Occupied Jammu & Kashmir have been urging the Centre to fill these seats by nomination. Therefore given their adequate numbers in the Jammu region, six to seven seats could be allocated for them out of the 24 reserved seats, which will provide level play field for the political parties to decide their political fate. No wonder such a mechanism can place Jammu in a position to have its own Chief Minister. This should be possible with Modi at the helm. Modi Hai Toh Mumkin Hai.
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© 2017 State Times Daily Newspaper