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JK delimitation: Panel recommends 47 seats for Kashmir, 43 for Jammu

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New Delhi: Redrawing the electoral map of Jammu and Kashmir, a three-member Delimitation Commission on Thursday earmarked 47 assembly seats for Kashmir division and 43 for Jammu in its final order submitted just a day before its two-year tenure was to end.
A gazette notification was issued after the panel, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, signed the final order giving Jammu six additional seats and one more to Kashmir.
Before the restructuring, which takes the total number of assembly seats in the union territory to 90, Jammu had 37 assembly constituencies and Kashmir 46.
The Commission, also comprising Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra and Jammu and Kashmir Election Commissioner K K Sharma as ex-officio members, has recommended that the legislative assembly of the union territory have at least two members, one of them a woman, from the Kashmiri migrant community.
They should be at par with nominated members of the Puducherry Assembly who have the right to vote, the Commission said in a statement.
The Commission, which was set up in March 2020 and entrusted with the work of delimiting assembly and parliamentary constituencies in the union territory on the basis of the 2011 Census, has also recommended to the government to consider giving displaced persons from Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir some representation in the assembly through nomination.
Besides, for the first time, nine seats have been proposed for Scheduled Tribes — six in Jammu and three in the Valley — following consultations with representatives of political parties, citizens, civil society groups.
The panel has redrawn the Anantnag parliamentary constituency in Kashmir by adding the Rajouri and Poonch assembly seats that fall in Jammu region. There are five parliamentary constituencies in the union territory with each having 18 assembly seats.
The names of some assembly seats have been changed keeping in view the demand of local representatives and public sentiment involved in the renaming, the statement said.
Tangmarg has been renamed Gulmarg, Zoonimar is Zaidibal, Sonwar is now Lal Chowk, Padder is Padder-Nagseni, Kathua North is Jasrota, Kathua South is Kathua, Khour is Chhamb, Mahore is Gulabhgarh and Darhal is Budhal.
“The Delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir had been a challenging task and the Commission visited the union territory twice during which it interacted with delegations as well as officials,” the statement added.
“The peculiar geo-cultural landscape of the Union Territory presented unique issues arising due to factors like competing political aspirations of the geographically and culturally distinctive regions,” the statement said.
During the public hearing, the Commission received several representations from Kashmiri migrants and displaced persons from Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK). The Kashmiri migrants’ delegations said before the Commission that they were persecuted and forced to live in exile as refugees in their own country for the last three decades.
It was urged that in order to preserve their political rights, seats may be reserved for them in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly as well as in Parliament. Displaced persons from PoJK also requested the Commission to reserve few seats for them in J&K Legislative Assembly, the statement said.
Notably, the boundaries of almost all assembly constituencies of the Kashmir valley have been redrawn.
According to the final report of the three-member commission, the only assembly seat to be increased in the valley has been added to Kupwara district, which will now have six seats.
Anantnag district has also gained one assembly seat and will have seven constituencies, but this came at the expense of the neighbouring Kulgam district, which saw its tally reduced to three.
While the commission has given in to the public outcry and retained the Habba Kadal constituency in Srinagar district, it has done away with Amira Kadal, Sonawar and Batamaloo as names for constituencies.
Amira Kadal was named after 18th century Afghan governor of Kashmir Amir Khan, and Batamaloo was named after a revered Sufi saint, whose shrine is located at a stone’s throw from the Civil Secretariat in the city.
Batamaloo has been rechristened Central Shalteng, apparently to commemorate the battle between the Indian Army and the Pakistani tribal invaders in the Shalteng area in 1947.
Amira Kadal and Sonawar have been merged to form a new constituency called Lal Chowk, while another new constituency has been carved out of Chanapora tehsil of the old Amira Kadal constituency.
All other constituencies in the district have had pockets added or deleted, but the number has been retained at eight seats.
In Baramulla district, the Tangmarg constituency has renamed Gulmarg, while Sangrama has been renamed Wagoora-Kreeri. In this area as well, pockets have been added or deleted from all assembly segments, but the number has been retained at seven seats.
Budgam and Pulwama have had all nine assembly constituencies retained between them, but some adjustments have been made in the areas.
In Shopian district, the Wachi assembly segment has been done away with and a new constituency named Zainapora created. The Shopian seat has been retained.
Kulagam district lost the Homshalibugh seat, while Anantnag gained one, named Anantnag West.
The Noorabad seat in Kulgam has been renamed as D H Pora.
Anantnag, which had only six seats earlier, will now have seven. Bijbehara has been renamed Bijbehara-Srigufwara, while Shangus has had ‘Anantnag East’ added to the nomenclature.
All parliamentary constituencies have been redrawn in Kashmir. The number of assembly segments in north Kashmir’s Baramulla parliamentary constituency has gone up from 15 to 18. Two seats have been added from Budgam district, while the other is the seat added in Kupwara.
The Anantnag parliamentary seat has got additional areas from Rajouri district to take its tally of assembly constituencies to 18.
The Srinagar Lok Sabha seat now extends from Kangan in Ganderbal district to the Shopian constituency, passing through all four assembly seats of Pulwama district. These five seats were earlier part of the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat.


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