SRINAGAR: The National Conference and the PDP said they have no problem in giving representation in the legislative assembly to Kashmiri migrants and displaced people from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) but disagree with the way reservations are being made for them.
They said the power to nominate members for the reserved seats in the assembly should rest with the elected government, not the Lieutenant Governor.
The Centre is planning to introduce a Bill in Parliament to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act to reserve two seats for Kashmiri migrants and one seat for PoK displaced people in the legislative assembly of the Union Territory. ”We have no problem in giving reservations to unrepresented communities. The idea of the upper house was that all such communities will be represented and accordingly seats were reserved for Paharis, Gujjars, Kashmiri Pandits, or any other community, in the upper house. But this reorganisation act dissolved that as well,” NC spokesperson Tanvir Sadiq said.
He said the other issue was that the Lieutenant Governor is a nominated person and does not have the powers to nominate members to the assembly.
”The LG, nominated person from Delhi, will nominate two seats is unacceptable in a democracy. Even in the past, when there were two nominated seats for women, it was done after the approval of the elected government,” Sadiq said. He said the BJP was trying to ”hide its sins”.
”They understood that their prospects in the coming elections are not good. They feel that by nominating four to five seats seats by the LG will help them. But I think when the time comes for elections people will punish them for what they have done,” he added.
PDP spokesman Mohit Bhan said the reservations in the proposed form will only deepen the mistrust between the two communities.
”As far as Kashmiri Pandit reservation is concerned, they are displaced, and mistrust and a sense of insecurity between the communities is there. To address this, there was a need for a larger political approach.
”Nomination was already there earlier in the assembly. But here the powers have been given to the LG to nominate. It would have been better if some seats would have been reserved and the representative would have been elected from there. It would create a larger platform for return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits and fill the vacuum created over the past 35 years,” Bhan said.
He said it is more a step of ”disempowerment” than empowerment because no one knows who they are going to nominate.
”We have seen in other UTs how the LG works. There is a quarrel everyday in Delhi,” he added.
”Mufti Mohammad Sayeed won his first election from R S Pura and leaders like P L Handoo and M L Fotedar were elected from Muslim-majority areas. It created a larger space for everyone. This nomination system will only increase the trust deficit and not reduce it,” Bhan added. Both Sadiq and Bhan said the amendment to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act was not in the spirit of the country’s Constitution. ”The other important part is that the reorganisation act is under judicial scrutiny and to bring such changes in a huff is like playing with the Constitution,” Bhan said.
”All this is done in a haste while this reorganization act has been challenged in the Supreme Court. I don’t see any reason to make this decision in such a hurry. I believe while this is all right and to be welcomed but the fact that the LG is nominating these seats is not acceptable,” Sadiq added.