HOME Minister Amit Shah was on Tuesday given a detailed presentation on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, where the BJP has been pushing for carrying out a delimitation exercise for getting more seats for Jammu region in the State Assembly. The Home Minister was briefed about the ground situation in the sensitive State, which has been hit by militancy for the last three decades and security arrangements being in place there, officials said. Shah was also told about the security arrangements being made for the annual Amarnath yatra, slated to begin on July 1, a Home Ministry official said, adding he is likely to visit the State soon.
Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and senior officials of the Kashmir division in the Home Ministry were present in the briefing. The meeting comes at a time when the State BJP has been raising the issue of withdrawal of a 16-year-old freeze on carrying out delimitation exercise in the State. However, officials said there was no discussion on constituting a delimitation commission. Against the backdrop of delimitation demands by the State BJP, officials said there was a possibility of the new Central Government constituting a delimitation commission to redraw the scope and size of the Assembly segments and determine the number of seats to be reserved for Schedules Castes.
Taking Jammu and Kashmir on par with the rest of the States, the then Farooq Abdullah Government had in 2002 amended the State Constitution which froze delimitation commission till 2026. His son and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also tweeted on Tuesday saying the freeze on delimitation has been applied to the entire country until 2026 and contrary to the way ‘some ill-informed TV channels are trying to sell it, it isn’t just a Jammu and Kashmir specific freeze.” Omar expressed surprise that “the BJP, which talks about bringing J&K on par with other States by removing (Article) 370 & 35-A now wants to treat J&K differently from other States in this one respect.”
“When delimitation takes place in the rest of the country the BJP is welcome to apply it to J&K until then we in the @JKNC_ will oppose, tooth and nail, any attempt to make changes without a mandate from the people of the State.” The demand for delimitation of Jammu and Kashmir was raised by the BJP first in 2008 during the Amarnath land row. The objective of the BJP is seemed to correct the alleged inequity and regional disparity towards the Jammu region, and also provide representation to all reserved categories in the State Assembly. Omar Abdullah also pointed out to a Supreme Court order and said the freeze on delimitation was applied to the State and was done to bring the State in line with the rest of the country. “The same was challenged and upheld in both the High Court of J&K and the Supreme Court.”
The Supreme Court had in 2010 upheld the freeze imposed by Jammu and Kashmir Government on delimitation of Assembly constituencies in the State till 2026 and dismissed the plea that it violated the ‘basic structure’ of the State Constitution. Rejecting National Panthers Party chief Bhim Singh’s argument that it deprived the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes the right to represent the Valley, the apex court had in a judgement said courts cannot interfere in matters of delimitation as there was an express constitutional bar on such interference.
Army Chief reviews security situation in J&K
CHIEF of Army Staff (COAS) General Bipin Rawat on Tuesday reviewed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir and exhorted troops to remain vigilant against the nefarious designs of anti- national elements. General Rawat had accompanied Rajnath Singh on his first official visit as Union Defence Minister to Siachen glacier on Monday. The Army chief visited the White Knight Corps headquarters along with Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh to review the operational preparedness of the forces in the Corps Zone, an official said.
The COAS visited operational formations in Kishtwar and Reasi sector, wherein he was briefed on actions being undertaken to ensure peace and stability, he said. General Rawat also interacted at length with soldiers who are deployed on the Line of Control (LoC) and obtained ground feedback on operations, training, weapons, equipment and administrative issues. He commended all ranks for their unwavering dedication to duty, selfless devotion and high standard of professionalism.
The COAS was appreciative of the measures and standard operating procedures instituted by the units and formations in the Corps Zone to ensure safe and secure environment. He exhorted all ranks on the need to remain vigilant to counter the nefarious designs of anti-national elements.