By Daya Sagar
September 11, 2008 • 5:14 pm
BETTER KNOW YOURSELF FIRST
By Daya Sagar
In 1947 Jammu Province of Maharaja Hari Singh had Five Districts namely Udhampur ( 5 tehsils), Jammu ( four tehsil), Kathua ( 3 tehsils) , Mirpur ( three tehsils ) and Reasi ( two tehsils ) as well as two Jagirs of Poonch & Chenani. Where as Kashmir Province had only three districts ie Anantnag ( four tehsils) , Baramulla ( three tehsils )and Muzaffarabad ( three tehsils). Srinagar was a tehsil of Anantnag then and Uri was a tehsil of Muzafarabad.
After 1947 Accession with India the Jammu Province had 6 districts ( Udhampur, Jammu, Kathua, Doda, Rajouri and Poonch). Similarly Kashmir Division that was nearly half the area of Jammu Division had 3 Districts ( Srinagar , Ananatnag and Baramulla ).
Wazir Commission Recommendations had called for nine District Administrative Units for Jammu Division as against seven for Kashmir Division Surely any new study if done would not have reduced the number of three new districts proposed by Wazir Commission for Jammu Division, rather the number surely would have increased further if any new criteria is adopted for creation of more districts to redress the grievance of people even from Kashmir Division. Total areas (in square kilometers) and areas without forest for different districts as they existed before creation of 8 new districts w.e.f 1-04-2007 are Doda ( 11691 / 5843 ), Baramulla ( 4588 / 1911), Udhampur ( 4550 / 2605 ), Anantnag ( 3984 / 1787 ), Jammu ( 3097 / 1758 ), Kathua ( 2651 / 1862 ), Rajouri ( 2630 / 1326 ), Kupwara ( 2379 / 728 ), Srinagar ( 2228 / 1848 ), Poonch ( 1674 / 849 ), Pulwama ( 1398 / 669 ) and Badgam ( 1371 / 890 ).
After 1947 Accession with India the Jammu Province that included Poonch and Chenani as well was spread over an area of 26,293 square kilometers and Kashmir province of which Muzafarabad had been occupied by Pakistan aided raiders comprised of 15948 square kilometer area. For administrative reasons Jammu Division after 1947 had 6 districts ( Udhampur, Jammu, Kathua, Doda, Rajouri and Poonch). Mirpur had gone in POK but Poonch Jagir became administratively part of Jammu Division. Similarly Kashmir Division that was nearly half the area of Jammu Division had 3 Districts ( Srinagar , Ananatnag and Baramulla ) till 3 more districts were created after Government headed by Sheikh Mohmed Abdullah took over in 1975 .
After independence New Delhi could not come out from the political pressure of the Kashmir Valley based leadership.
Gajendragadkar Commission Report of 1967, reports of Commissions headed by Justice Janki Nath Wazir ( particularly report submitted in 1984 by Justice J N Wazir ) and the Singhal Committee Report of 1998 did endorse some grievances. Till recently Governments of the day had not rejected these reports.
In view of the multi-dimensional inter-regional contradictions Government of J&K had set up Gajendragadkar Commission in 1967 . Gajendragadkar Commission had observed that the main cause of irritation and tension was the feeling of political neglect and discrimination from which the certain regions (Jammu and Ladakh) suffered. Gajendragadkar Commission further observed that even if all the matters are equally settled, there would still be a measure of discontent unless the political aspirations of the different regions are satisfied.
After Poonch agitation 0f 1978-79 and localized agitations on the issues of development and employment in the districts of Udhampur and Doda the Government of Jammu & Kashmir had set up a Commission headed by Justice Janki Nath Wazir. Wazir commission was appointed on Nov 12, 1981 for studying different issues including rationalisation of Administrative Units (Districts). Justice JN Wazir incidentally also had vast experience on J&K affairs as he also headed the first regular Delimitation Commission.
The spread ( area ) of districts in Jammu Region was much more vast as compared to Kashmir region in 1975 when Sheikh Mohd Abdullah returned to power. Three new districts ( Pulwama, Kupwara and B udgam) had already been carved in Kashmir Division even before the Wazir Commission was appointed in 1981.After exhaustive study, interaction and factual position, Wazir Commission submitted its report on January 3, 1984. The Commission recommended creation of three more districts in Jammu region to be carved out one each from existing Jammu, Doda and Udhampur districts. Number of District Administrative units in Jammu Division would go up from six to nine. The Commission also recommended creation of one more district of Bandipore out of Baramulla in Kashmir region raising number of districts in Kashmir Division from six to seven ( Wazir commission appeared to be under pressure to nearly accept the 3 districts already created in Kashmir Division by State Government in early eighties ) .
The Wazir Commission appears to have taken cognizance of area, backwardness, topography, geographical continuity and distribution of population. Areawise (excluding POK and allied areas) Jammu region has 26,293 sq. km. Kashmir region 15948 while Ladakh topping the list with 96,701. At the times when Wazir commission was on job road network was nearly 5000 Km in Kashmir Division as against less than 3500 km in Jammu Division. In view of more backward areas in Jammu region creation of three more districts was recommended as against only one for Kashmir Division where 3 districts had already been carved out of District of Anantnag ( Anantnag and Pilwama) , Srinagar ( Srinagar and Badgam ) and Baramulla( Baramulla and Kupwara) much before the Wazir Commission had submitted the report. Even the original Districts of Baramulla ,Anantnag and Srinagar were very very small in comparison to the district of Doda. The total combined area of Baramulla and Kupwara districts is 6977 sq kilometers where as that of Doda district is 11691 sq kilometers. Even the area of Doda district excluding forest area is 5843 sq kilometer and that Baramulla Kupwara combine excluding forest is only 2639 sq kilometers. Area of Kishtwar tehsil of Doda District was 4550 sq kilometers. Those who have kept the Wazir Commission report under the carpet for over 20 years have surely done a great injustice to the people of far flung areas . Kishtwar and Bhadarwah Tehsils of Doda districts were the poorest of the poor areas of J&K inspite of the fact they had the major portion of forest wealth of J&K and at least half as large a tourism potential as the Kashmir valley has.
Happenings in the J&K Legislative Assembly over last five years can well explain the intentions of those who feared of the pressures from Kashmir Valley in case Wazir Commission recommendations were implemented.
In general the developmental plan funds and other allocations are made by Government taking District Administrative unit / Community development block as the basis. The recommendations of the Wazir Commission if accepted would have made the Jammu Division entitled for more fund allocations in comparison to Kashmir Division. Implementation of a report like 1984 Justice J.N. Wazir like Commission Report and constitution of a new impartial Delimitation Commission for reorganization of single member assembly segments of J&K Legislative assembly would surely place Dogriat ahead of Kashmiriat. The common man of Kashmir Valley may not take much notice of it but the political opponents of Government would surely use the same to exploit the sentiments of innocent common Kashmiri .
That could explain reluctance of Kashmir centric politicians to keep the Wazir Commission report under the carpet. Creation of new districts also has direct bearing on the assembly seats. Inview of need for creating three more districts in addition to Bandipora in Kashmir Valley, surely those who talk of the need for some more districts out of some areas of Doda, Kathua and Udhampur Districts of Jammu province in addition to Reasi, Kishtwar , Ramban and Samba too have some logic. More so it must be kept in mind that Srinagar, Pulwama and Badgam have very less Kandi and forest areas. On this basis a rational study would recomment 2 to 3 more districts for Jammu province and total districts could be ( 12).
Any new Delimitation Commission for assembly segments of the Legislative Assembly would have found it difficult to keep 37 seats in the assembly for nine Disricts of Jammu Province and 46 seats for only 7 Districts of Kashmir Province. Hence to undo such pressures the number of Districts in Jammu and Kashmir regions has been made 10 each w.e.f 1-04-2007. But the truth as laid in Section-50 of J&K Constitution will still keep on irritating.
Section 50 of J&K Constitution had already an irritating provision for the Kashmir Centric leadership where in the Legislative Council Jammu province has 14 elected MLCs and Kashmir Province has only 12 elected MLCs. Presently Jammu has more elected MLCs ( Member Legislative Council ) but less MLAs ( Member Legislative Assembly ) than Kashmir Division.
Looking at the people and the status of those living the far flung backward areas of J&K, there is a special provision in the J&K Representation of People Act of 1957 for providing a representative of nearness in the Legislative Assembly to the people of J&K . Azad has given proof of his concern for the people and has said that there may also be a need for increasing seats in the Legislative Assembly. People should hope that new Delimitation Commission for reorganizing single member segments in Legislative assembly would work under no pressure and shall undo the mistakes as were done by the earlier Commission in mid nineties. I have discussed this in my coloumns in DE in very detail. In case the Delimitation Commission would work honestly even under the present status the seats for Doda, Kathua and Udhampur districts would increase under the provisions of J&K representation of People Act 1957 as well as Jammu Province’s share out of present 87 seats ( excluding 24 kept for POK) would be nearly 45 and that of Kashmir Valley around 38. In case total seats are increased by 25% ie from 111 to 139( 30 seats for POK ) the districts of Jammu province may get around 57 to 58 seats and Kashmir Region just around 45 to46 seats.. J&K Legislative Council already has 14 elected MLC’s from Jammu Province as per Section 50 of J&K Constitution where as Kashmir Valley has only 12 elected MLC’seats in the Legislative Council.
The only irritating reality is that the Districts as well as seats in the Legislative Assembly would be more for Dogriat than that of Kashmiriat. Let Dogriat not irritate Kashmiriat. And if it irritates , make all efforts to let Kashmiries accept it happily in a brotherly manner. But these issues will have to be taken up by all by rising above individual party politics. Leaders of Jammu from all political and social groups will have to come along side Ghulam Nabi Azad to strengthen his efforts for making the people of Kashmir Valley well understand and accept the ground realities as regards reorganization of District administrative Units and Delimitation of the single member segments in the Legislative Assembly.
Why ask a specific number of seats in assembly. Let us ask for a fair trial and delimitation as per representation of the people Act 1957. The Section -4 has four parameters in favour of the areas falling in Jammu region. The fifth parameter the population as per 2001 census is disputedly shown more for Kashmir Region. But the electorate ( voters ) from Jammu region are more than Kashmir region. Even this factor lays the truths to wards Jammu region. As per the Act The Delimitation Commission shall,(a) readjust the extent and boundaries of the Assembly Constituencies ; and (b) determine the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly to be reserved for the Scheduled Castes. The Delimitation Commission shall in the manner herein provided, distribute the seats in the Legislative Assembly to single member territorial constituencies and delimit them having due regard, as far as practicable to the (a) (i) Population as ascertained at the last preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published ;and (ii) geographical compactness ;and (iii) nature of terrain ; and (iv) facilities of communication ; and (v) the like consideration.
DAYA SAGAR M.Tech, (Social activists a leading scribe on Kashmir affairs).
57 New Rehari-5, Jammu-Tawi 180005. 0191-2562024, Cell 94197 96096
Website-http://geocities.com/jammuinfo www.dayasagr.blogspot.com Emailemail@example.com