Dogra identity

Col J P Singh
As is well known, Jammu’s identity has systematically been eroded by the vested interests. Jammu is a city of temples and palaces. It is becoming a city of ruined heritage. Besides it is being encircled demographically. Indiscriminate settlement of Bangladeshis and Rohingyas in and around Jammu poses a serious security threat to it (city of temples). Kashmir dominance in govt jobs ie 90% in Secretariat and JK Bank and similar %ages in PSC/SSRB lists is injecting hopelessness in Jammu youth. Their migration from Jammu is turning Jammu into old age home. Ignoring popular demand of holiday on Maharaja Hari Singh’s birthday Vs celebrating holiday on Sheikh Sahib’s birthday signals push over Dogra sentiments. Newton’s third law of motion is seen loudly resonating in Jammu mind as was seen in Daily Excelsior’s 14 December 2018 coverage which revealed confrontationist trend in state politics. Following headlines were eye opener. (i) Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan wages war against K-Rulers, (ii) Dogras to Reclaim their rightful History and Narrative by Lt Gen Bhupinder Singh, former Governor of Andaman-Nicobar & Puducherry, (ii) Jammu Province Deprived of Sports Facilities by Tarun Uppal and (iv) Mehbooba Mufti’s assertion at an event in Mumbai on the same date, calling the tie up with BJP (Jammu representation) suicidal and vowing not to repeat such blunder besides other such insinuations. In addition, Omar Abdullah’s ‘Shame on Dogras’ tweet after Rassana case and Mehboob’s onslaught on Dogrriyat during Mata Vaishno Devi University Convocation, “people living in the abode of Mata, start every ritual with Kanya Poojan yet resort to heinous crimes” (referring to Rassana). That heightened racial tensions. The above stories run like a cry of an emotionally, economically and socially deprived child and his ruined childhood. It revealed the depth of despair, both in Jammu and Kashmir and the contours of it extending to red lines. In the social media too, aggressive J vs K narrative was in the forefront which is peaking by the day. In the rigmarole, one can clearly see, ‘Jammu is visibly questioning what Kashmir has illegally got and gained. Youth is asking what is Dogra history and where is it because it is not given even in the footnotes of history books when Dogras footprints are visible in Gilgit-Baltistan and Tibet. ‘Voice of Dogras’ is raising similar queries overseas and showcasing the hidden heritage. The ‘fight for identity’ is on. Ladakh is also up in arms. Together they pose a serious challenges to K-Rulers and their Delhi mentors. First bugle of war against K-Rulers has been blown from both sides. Hope it has been heard across.
Jammu is the emotional capital of Dogras but relegated to just another city in the political dynamics. It is reflective of neglect and ignominy. There is no industry, lucrative farming, trade, jobs, Dogra Certificate, sports, recreation or any infrastructure wonder. Kashmir has all and in plenty. Either give Jammu its due or separate it is the undercurrent. If none, Jammu is getting ready to fight. When politicians of both the centre and state have failed the region, DSS has picked up the cudgel to question who divided Dogras on the religious, caste and sub-regional lines.
Angry adventurism and social engineering in Jammu vs Kashmir is a fall out of discrimination and character assassination. Dastardly crime, referred above, and the hullabaloo of complicity of Hindu protagonists astonished Dogras. National media spared no effort to defame Jammu people. The character onslaught continued unabated. Taking cognizance of the communal overtones, UN Secretary General castigated Delhi for the hate crime and communal flare up in Jammu. Jammu otherwise unknown became famous for the wrong reason. It led to the rise of a non-political ‘Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan’ with a specific agenda.
Jammu is deprived of sports infrastructure. Tarun Uppal’s story needs no elaboration. There is no Astroturf football field in entire Jammu whereas Srinagar has a football academy and two turfs. Valley’s girl Aqra Fayaz, a product of the academy got promotional publicity after returning from national football tournament. Wonder there is any beneficiary of K football academy from Jammu. Only Astroturf hockey ground (Hakku Stadium) is too old to sustain. Nearby Punjab has produced world class players. Ironically Jammu has nothing to show case. No world class swimming pool in Jammu whereas there is all weather pool in Srinagar. There is no riding, wrestling, fencing, archery, Squash, Kabbadi, or other such games promotion in Jammu. Eminent Dogra wrestler, Prem Singh Chaudhary wasn’t appointed Wrestling Coach because Kashmir hadn’t any to be enrolled as coach and same was with Raju Pehlwan. They suffered because of Kashmir and Dogras lost their patronage. Dogras are great soldiers and sportsmen. They are deprived of both avenues. Denial of traditional Dogra Certificate to Jammu lads by NC-Congress Govt since 2011 is deplorable. What is their future? Pick up guns/stones/drugs? Their future in sports, farming, armed forces and otherwise is also bleak.
Gen Bhupinder Singh found that plight of Dogras is due to the fact that complete destiny of J&K abruptly passed on to two politically ambitious and known detractors of the erstwhile Dogra regime namely Sheikh Abdullah and Pt Nehru. Historical facts pertaining to the Dogras were knowingly buried under the carpet. Post independence, the societal chasm within the state widened. Delhi appointed interlocutors over the period solely engaged with Kashmiris which further perpetuated the travesty of Dogra narrative. Pt Nehru and his ostensible blood brother Sheikh frequently collaborated to drive J&K agenda to enslave Jammu. Continued diminishment of Dogras and by extension of Jammu region, has kept nationalist Dogras out of national appreciation. Delhi considers Jammu as extension of Punjab or at best a base to hop to Kashmir instead of accepting it as a valuable gateway. That suits Nehru-Sheikh agenda.
The reflex perception of Jammu or Dogras is usually & sadly portrayed as ‘religious identity’. Gen Bhupinder Singh has made it clear that Dogra is a regional identity and not a binary religious identity, as it is wrongly portrayed by K-Rulers. Multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-casteist denomination of composite Dogra identity is the finest personification of the lofty ideas of India. Ironically their unmatched gallantry, civility, and patriotism is unknown to the history books. Hence attribution of a Hindu-Muslim (Jammu-Kashmir) perception creates anger which was visible in protest march from Lakhanpur to Londi Morh by about one lakh Dogras on 20th May 2018. Thereafter DSS leaders are in the forefront to clear the mist about Hindu-Muslim perception and correct the misconceived aberration. They are for inherent unity, communal harmony and brotherhood.
Rassana case was wrapped into unwarranted angularities of religion and race for pitching Hindus against Muslims. It was portrayed as hate crime between nomadic Bakarwals and local Hindus. Presence of Rohingyas in Jammu was unnecessarily injected into Rassana case by K rulers. It needs no rocket science to prove that it was a conspiracy to create Hindu-Muslim enmity. It may be recalled that Gujjars and Bakarwals have been eyes and ears of the Indian Army during all the wars because they are Dogras and nationalist. They are pride of J&K. But the conspired conflict between friendly locals and nomads is to divide Dogras on religious and racial lines. Patriotic past and pluralistic present of the Dogras would stand out strongly against Mehbooba’s narrow casetist vote bank agenda. Dogras will do good to the cause of Dogras if they do not fall into partisan traps. They should pick up the gauntlet jointly for re-establishing the Dogra identity in its fullest glory, grandeur and cultural profundity across J&K and across the country.