After repelling the controversial Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, the Modi government is now reportedly planning to further diminish Kashmir’s hegemony over the Jammu region by carving out a new administrative division.
According to the media reports in thePrint, the consultations to create a new division comprising at least three districts from Jammu division and three from Kashmir — all part of or surrounding the Pir-Panjal region — are at a very advanced stage and a formal statement could come out latest by early next year.
“A decision has already been taken and only modalities are being worked out. It will provide fresh impetus to developmental activities in the hitherto neglected parts of Jammu division such as the Chenab Valley,” said a senior J&K government functionary.
“But, more importantly, it will further reduce Kashmir’s authority over the other regions, especially Jammu, since the new division will also alter the demography of Kashmir.”
ThePrint quoting sources also said that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs is already on-board with the project, while the ruling BJP sees the move as a vital step to end Kashmir’s hold over Jammu. The issue was also discussed at a high-level meeting between officers of J&K and senior functionaries of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
“Kashmiris were ruling the state only due to the fact that they had more seats in the Assembly and had more power than Jammu region. But, it was BJP’s commitment to end the discrimination of the other regions,” said a senior J&K BJP leader”.
In the former state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Kashmir region had a major share of 44 seats in the 87-member Assembly followed by Jammu with 37 seats and Ladakh with only 4 seats.
According to the J-K Reorganisation Bill, 2019, passed in Parliament in August, the number of seats in the J&K Assembly — Jammu and Kashmir is now a Union Territory with a legislature of its own — will also go up by seven seats. The Centre has also planned to hold a fresh delimitation exercise in the state, which could further change the composition of the Assembly.
According to the initial plan, the new division could comprise Ramban, Kishtwar and Doda districts from the Jammu region while Shopian, Anantnag and Kulgam districts from Kashmir region could also be included in the new division.
Sources told ThePrint that while the most likely reason behind the move is to provide better administration in the hill areas, the real cause is mostly political, one that could bring rich returns in the shape of votes for the BJP.
There has been popular demand from residents of the areas that fall in the Chenab Valley for a separate administrative and revenue division. In February, the state administration under the then Governor Satya Pal Malik had decided to create a new division of Ladakh comprising the Kargil-Ladakh areas.