The Indian government’s moves to change the demographic profile of occupied Kashmir are continuing, with New Delhi redrawing constituencies to give greater representation to the Hindu minority and reduce representation for the majority Muslim population.
The region has been carved into 90 constituencies, with 43 for Hindu-majority Jammu and 47 for Kashmir — almost equal representation, even though Jammu only makes up about 42% of the population of IIOJK minus Ladakh. For comparison, the previous constituency make-up of the disputed region was 46 for Kashmir and just 37 for Jammu.
Indian officials say elections in the held region will soon follow, but any electoral exercise based on such flawed constituencies will seriously lack legitimacy. The report from the delimitation commission has already been rejected by all of the major political parties of Kashmir, including those that are very pro-India.
While some official statements suggested that the changes were meant to bring back representation to the people of the occupied territory, Modi’s BJP made little effort to hide their real intentions. The BJP put out a statement guaranteeing positive changes and a better future for the occupied region, but only if it was voted into power.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Office has said the new delimitation is “aimed at disenfranchising and disempowering the Muslim-majority population” in India-held Kashmir. It is notable that Kashmir has been without any elected political representation since Modi’s government dismissed the region’s government in October 2019 and threw all of the leadership in jail for several months.
It is clear that the government in New Delhi is trying its utmost to dilute Kashmir’s Muslim majority. The redrawing of constituencies will allow India to further stage-manage local elections, reducing the Muslim majority in IOK’s legislature. This seems to be a natural corollary of India’s revocation of occupied Kashmir’s autonomous status in 2019.
The gerrymandering of constituencies, therefore, is just another condemnable step aimed at engineering demographic change in IHK. If the occupied state’s major parties boycott the upcoming elections, the BJP and its natural allies could easily form a government and if they contest, they will have to accept the revocation of the state’s special status as being legal.