What did the CEC say about Assembly Elections in J&K?

The Chief Election Commissioner explained that the delay in holding assembly elections in Jammu is due to logistical and security concerns, ensuring a smooth and fair electoral process.

What did the CEC say about Assembly Elections in J&K?
CECs Statement on Assembly ELections in J&K

The Election Commission of India announced the dates for the Lok Sabha Elections 2024. The election will be held in 7 phases, starting from April 19 to June 1, with counting taking place on June 4, 2024.

There have been questions raised about the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, which has been without an elected government since 2018.

In response to queries during a press conference, Rajiv Kumar, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), stated:

"When we visited there, people asked us that they had to go to the Supreme Court to get elections conducted and why we weren't conducting them. Firstly, why haven't you done it for so long? First of all, I want to clarify before everyone that the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act was passed in 2019, and it is well known that in 2019, the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act was passed, which provided for 107 seats in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly. Out of these 107, 24 seats were reserved for Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, leaving 83 seats, out of which 7 were reserved for SC communities, and there was no reservation for ST. In 2022, the delimitation commission came and, accepting its reports, notified a change in the number of seats. The number increased from 107 to 114, with 24 remaining reserved for PoK, increasing from 83 to 90, and nine seats were reserved for STs, creating a new feature. Additionally, two seats were reserved for migrants, one of which is for women. Subsequently, a seat was allowed for nomination, which will be reserved for displaced people from PoK residing in India. This means that the Reorganization Act and the Delimitation Act were not in sync, and therefore, there was no occasion for the commission to conduct the election until that was rectified. When did that happen? It happened in December 2023, through an amendment in the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act. Our meter started running from December 2023. All political parties in Jammu and Kashmir asked us to conduct elections along with the parliament, and we respect that. We understand that it is our duty, but when we proposed to conduct elections together, all the political parties said, 'We can't do it together.' We asked why, and their answer was that when assembly constituency elections are held together, there will be around ten to twelve candidates standing in each constituency. So, there would be approximately 1000 candidates. Due to security reasons in J&K, each candidate needs at least two sections of force. This means that we would need around 400 to 500 companies to provide security, which was not feasible in such a large country at that time due to security reasons. However, we are committed that as soon as these elections end and the forces become available to us, we will conduct the elections as soon as possible"

It's pertinent to mention that the last elections in Jammu and Kashmir were held in 2014. In 2018, the assembly was dissolved, and in 2019, Article 370 was revoked, leading to the downgrading of the state of J&K to a Union Territory with an assembly, while Ladakh was carved out as a separate Union Territory without an assembly.