Count them in

The then chief minister stated that “certain forces were bent upon changing the Muslim majority character of J&K”. Subsequently, the state government conducted a mid-decade census in some selected districts in 1987.  Though its results were not released officially, the unofficial reports revealed that “its results were different from 1981 census.”
Subsequently, the estimates and census figures of 1991 and 2001 showed further decrease up to 63.50 % and 66.99 % respectively. The local intelligentsia protested again and characterized these figures as distorted and manipulated. The proportional decrease has been shown despite hilly and Muslim character of the state which generally are associated with higher growth rates in population dynamics principles.
The doubts about official manipulation were strengthened further when Indian leaders, especially L. K. Advani, discussed “changing the demographic profile in J&K” with the Israeli Foreign Minister during his Delhi visit in late 1980s. When it was reported in the national press, the NC Member of Parliament formally protested against the role of Indian government.
As the 2011 census is approaching, people’s concerns have been revived. They genuinely feel that earlier practices may be repeated. So, they started highlighting their concern at mass level. This explains, partly, the recent call for strike “against demographic change in Kashmir” given by JK High Court Bar Association.
In the background of developments mentioned above, the present chief Minister of J&K made an important statement saying that “there were no reports of any demographic change in Kashmir and the claims in this regard were made by the people who want to sustain their politics on these issues.”
But, the official statistics of the last 6 decades do not support this position. These headcount exercises have shown:
 [i] The proportion of Muslims to total population in J&K decreased from 72.40 % in 1941 to 66.99 % in 2001.
[ii] There was 5 % decrease in Muslim proportion of total population and a simultaneous increase of 5 % in Hindu proportion of total population in J&K during 1941 – 2001.
[iii] In most of census decades, the population growth rates in the state were higher than the national averages.
Since the present CM is considered non-dogmatic and open to facts, he must reconsider his position in the light of these figures. This will increase his stature and credibility as realistic leader.
The 2011 Census is not a matter of politics. It is a question related to nationality and sub-nationality and its survival. Since we  have suffered a demographic loss, we must be united to rectify old mistakes. It does not need street protests. It primarily is a professional issue and must be dealt with at the professional level. The over-politicisation of this issue may prove counterproductive.
Systematic efforts are needed at two levels. First, at the governmental level; serious efforts must be made to ensure fair and comfortable participation of people in the census exercise with no scope left for distortion and manipulation.
Second, at the non-governmental level, positive and organised efforts to provide a peaceful environment in which census operations will take place.


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