Soz Apprehensive Of Demographic Change
6 September 2000
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: Former Union cabinet minister and National Conference divorcee Saif-ud-din Soz today expressed apprehensions that the national census operation in its existing format could change the Muslim majority character of Jammu & Kashmir State and the same might snowball into a major political disaster in near future. He demanded that, as a special case, only the permanent residents of Jammu & Kashmir - including the displaced diaspora - be counted in the current census exercise in this geo-politically sensitive State. While surfacing at the home pitch by way of addressing a Press conference after the considerable pause of about one year, Saif-ud-din Soz cautioned the Central as well as the State Governments that the format of census operation applied in other states would cause a catastrophic situation as it would count all non-State subjects as the residents of this State. He said that as per the existing format, the enumerators would count not only over 200,000 non-state subject labourers as the residents of this State but also thousands of paramilitary personnel posted and operating in Jammu & Kashmir. Soz urged the State Government to put its foot down and make the Union Government to reconsider its format of headcount in Jammu & Kashmir. He was, however, pessimistic that Dr Farooq Abdullah''s Government was too weak and unassertive to tackle such problems in the interest of this State. The former NC leader, who has neither launched his own party nor joined any other mainstream party after his expulsion from NC last year, was in total agreement with Hizbul Mujahideen that the census here would be nothing but a bogus exercise. Nonetheless, he disagreed with the Hizb decision of imposing ''ban'' on the operation being handled by the State Government employees. He urged Hizb as well as the separatist conglomerate Hurriyat Conference not to ''ban'' the census but raise ''more realistic questions'' so that it became a credible exercise, not essentially detrimental to any political struggle. He urged Hizb to reconsider the ''ban'' as inspite of that the Government of India would proceed with the exercise and complete the same like it did in case of elections during the last four years. Soz claimed that the State''s demographic character was being constantly changed under a political conspiracy and there was every apprehension that the Muslim majority component would be made to decrease further. He claimed that the 1951 census had shown 70% of the population as Muslims which had receded to 68.3% in 1961, 65.8% in 1971 and 64.2% in 1981. He said that according to 1971 census there were 34% (of total regional population) Muslims in Jammu while as the same had dipped to 28% in 1981 census. He stressed on the point that no non-state subject be counted in Jammu & Kashmir but all the migrants and those who were in other states and countries in connection with employment, tourism or any other purpose should be reckoned as the residents of this State.