Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, introduced in Lok Sabha on Wednesday, seeks to increase the strength of the legislative assembly of the union territory to 114 from 107. It also offers reservation of 9 seats for Scheduled Tribes for the first time. The Bill, signed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, seeks to complete the process of reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir where assembly elections are long due.

The amendments to Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, have been proposed to accommodate the recommendations of the Delimitation Commission. “The Act is proposed to be amended with a view to provide representation to “Kashmiri Migrants”, “Displaced Persons from Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir” and Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir so as to preserve their political rights as well as for their overall social and economic development,” said the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill.

The Bill authorises Lt Governor to nominate not more than two members, one of whom shall be a woman, from the community of “Kashmiri Migrants” and one member from “Displaced Persons from Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir”, to the legislative assembly.

Migrant statistics

Giving the basis of amendments proposed, the Bill said: “At the time of the militancy in the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir in the late eighties, particularly in Kashmir (Division) in 1989-90, a large number of people migrated from their ancestral places of residence, in Kashmir province particularly the Kashmiri Hindus and Pandits along with few families belonging to Sikh and Muslim communities”.

Initially, all the migrants, elaborated the Bill, were moved to Jammu. Later on, some migrants chose to move to Delhi, Bengaluru, and Pune. “As per the data available with the Government of Jammu and Kashmir, there are currently 46,517 families having 1,58,976 persons registered with the Relief Organisation of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir who have got registered over the last three decades,” it observed.

In the wake of the 1947 Pakistani aggression in Jammu and Kashmir, 31,779 families migrated from Pakistan occupied areas of Jammu and Kashmir to the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir, the Bill informed. Of these, 26,319 families settled in the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir and the remaining 5,460 families moved out to other parts of the country, it pointed out.

During the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971, 10,065 more families were displaced from Chhamb Niabat area. Of these, 3,500 families were displaced during the 1965 war and 6,565 families were displaced during the 1971 war. As such, a total of 41,844 families were displaced during 1947-48, 1965, and 1971 Indo-Pak wars, calculated the Bill.

As per sub-section (4) of section 14 of the Act, 24 seats in the legislative assembly have been reserved for the people residing in the area of Jammu and Kashmir under illegal occupation of Pakistan. The seats shall remain vacant until the area under the occupation of Pakistan ceases to be so occupied and the people residing in that area elect their representatives.