Col J P Singh
Aggression in the valley over sub-judice Article 35 A has taken such blazing proportions as if this is the only lifeline and if abrogated the sky will fall. The argument for its retention is that it will change the demography in the valley. Didn’t the demography change when Pandits were hounded out! No, it is not for demography, the motive and the undercurrent is different. Before going into that let us accept that blazing row over 35 A has shaken Jammu. There is tremendous undercurrent for its abrogation. Not only 35 A, otherwise also Jammu is angry mainly because Jammu has come to realise that Pan-Islamist forces are carrying out a relentless Jehad against the Indian nation through J&K of which Jammu is the forced hostage. Unstable Jammu suits the perpetrators most because of its geographical position. It provides a firm base for ingress Southwards. To secure the firm base Jammu has to be politically controlled. The demographic invasion is for votes and Assembly seats. Jammu intelligentsia has caught it and others too are gradually understanding it.
Hence Jammu is favouring abrogation of the Article. “Given the choice, Kashmir will opt for independence”, says Prof Soz of Congress. Given the chance, Jammu will opt for separation from Kashmir, is my perception so that it saves itself from the blazing Jehad from within and across the border. To not to be consumed, it must be separated.
Kashmir has hogged media headlines for the wrong reasons which Delhi fails to set right. Five districts of the valley are said to be mired in violence. It is not so. Radicalism and violence is making deep inroads all over. Wherever there is ‘cordon and search’, crowds resort to stone pelting. Whenever a militant is killed, crowds swell where anti India and pro Pakistan slogans are raised. This trend is transcending to Jammu. Army patrol was stoned in Jammu after January 2018 Sunjwan military station attack. Media and police personnel were stoned in a Rohingya settlement. Culture of intolerance is also seen in civil society in Jammu after Rassana crime which was allegedly manipulated to tarnish image of Dogras and to cause communal unrest as sequel. Accept it or not but this has caused deep resentment in Jammu. Whenever any voice was raised against such manipulations, it was suppressed, sometimes ruthlessly as the voice for CBI probe in Rassana case. 20th May 2018 protest march of 42 kms and massive Dogra rally at Kootah, formation of Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan (DSS) on 22 July and separate celebration of Independence Day by DSS with much bigger participation and fanfare is manifestation of simmering anger. Hence this article reflects insights gathered over sometime past.
Different laws and systems are followed in Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh. Cases against militants, criminals and stone pelters are withdrawn at will whereas protestors of 2008 peaceful Jammu agitation are facing trial. Century old practice of enabling Dogra Certificate for enrolment in armed forces has been stopped. There has been a feeling of being discriminated and suppressed since 1951 when the number of legislators was wrongly decided overwhelmingly in favour of Kashmir. Papers of Parja Parshid candidates were arbitrarily rejected giving free run to NC candidates to the legislature. No delimitation is being done because it is bound to upset the applecart and alter the power sharing. Neither the Homeland for Pandits, nor the Sainik Colony is allowed to be built in the valley. Popular Jammu demand of holiday on Maharaja Hari Singh’s birthday is denied besides many other emotive issues concerning Jammu. Best is to accept this reality and find a remedy.
Coming to 35 A, triggering outrage, if married outside the state, a girl’s children lose maternal fundamental rights in J&K. 35 A abets migrations. It effects Jammu the most because it is girls from Jammu who marry outside the state most resulting in thinning-out of Hindu population. Jammu is becoming a city of old people and pensioners who are left at the mercy of Rohingyas who shall be their domestic servants and malis. Under the illegal tribal settlement instructions more tribals will occupy vacant land in Jammu which is most intriguing for Jammu. Jammu is being Islamized to be used as bridge for Southern expansion of Wahhabi and Salafi Islam. Unstable Jammu suits the perpetrators. Demographic invasion is a part of this grand plan. One needs to imagine the scenario after a decade or so. Pitiably neither Jammu nor Delhi has risen to the occasion. Everyone reiterates phrases like Kashmiryat, Insaniyat and Jhamuriyat as the solution to Kashmir problem but no slogan has been discovered for Jammu and Ladakh despite the clarity in the mirror.
Otherwise also cultures of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh are very different and independent of each other. Ethnically the regions are different. Their languages are different, their needs and requirements are totally different. Even ecologically, each falls in different zone. People of Jammu and Ladakh are compulsorily hostages to Kashmir and its dominance. They are not happy with the status quo. Cutting across religious lines they are also unhappy with the state and centre govt’s excessive focus (appeasement) on the Valley. They firmly believe that unless political bindings compulsorily imposed by the state and center’s constitutions are removed, their regions wouldn’t be peaceful.
Smaller states ensure better administration. J&K is a very large state with an area of 1,01,387 sq kms of which Ladakh is 58 percent, Jammu 26 percent and Kashmir 15 percent. J&K was the largest princely state of India and still very large and diverse. Mountainous terrain makes every task more challenging. Allowing Jammu and Kashmir as a single state after its accession was perhaps right to show that India was a secular country. Lot of water has flown down the Jhelum since then. Moreover secularism has miserably failed in J&K with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and hounding out of Hindu aborigines. Hence the answer is simple, declare Jammu as a state and Ladakh as Union Territory (UT). UT status means decentralisation of powers and funding from the Centre. The region is scenic, terrain attractively different and has simple and friendly people meaning huge tourism potential. Cutting across the party lines, Ladakhis reiterated their demand forcefully during the Martyrs Day function at Leh recently.
So far as Jammu’s woes are concerned, it lacks employment opportunities. Jammu youth are forced to seek jobs outside. Maximum number of govt jobs are cornered by the Valley. State Public Service Commission and the Selection Boards are headed by Kashmiris. Jammu’s members, always in minority, carry no weight in selection process and hence Kashmiris grab majority jobs. Leave aside West Pakistan refugees, Gorkhas and Valmikis, permanent residents of Jammu suffer discrimination. The planning commission and the finance ministry is invariably headed and staffed by Kashmiris. Hence the development works and the funds are cornered by Kashmir. Despite the huge potential, tourism in Jammu is not promoted. Rajouri and Poonch are not developed under the guise of border areas. Hence Jammu will not develop till separated.
A large component of demographic invasion of Jammu is glaringly state sponsored. It was raised by Ekkjutt Jammu in their widely attended seminar on 35 A on 25th August. It too demanded abrogation of 35 A and division of state. Panther Party and Jammu Congress also favour division. If Jammu is still being taken for-granted, it will be a folly. There is distinct anger and disgust over the presence of over 40,000 Rohingyas and Bangladeshis across the board. Any attempt to raise it is contested by the charges of anti-Islam prejudices. Jammu’s voices are branded as communal such as CBI inquiry demand and suppressed.
Jammu has been the foremost casualty of partition and militancy. More importantly it is the casualty of political discrimination. Why more seats to Kashmir when Jammu has equal if not more population and much more area. Why not the delimitation when Jammu is bursting with growing population. Why six Assembly Seats out of 24 of POJK quota not allotted to migrants of POJK and contested by them. If Delhi and Srinagar continue to make mockery of the sentiments of Jammu and Ladakh people, it will not have the moral authority to either look into their eyes or feign fair and just. Jammu and Ladakh too deserve Jhamuriat, Insanyat and Dogriyat / Ladakhiyat.
The trifurcation is the best solution to save Jammu and Ladakh from Islamic Jehad. It will be painful for some who have their footprints in all the three regions. But it certainly won’t be like the division of India or separation of Pakistan from India. It needs consideration when the regions are themselves moving towards trifurcation. The onus to take a call lies on the new Governor.
Col J P Singh