Are we going to lose Jammu?

Karanvir Gupta
You must be thinking while the local media, the national media and the political corridors are all brainstorming about Kashmir, this person over here is adding another feather to the cap of troubles. Actually, may be you are right in thinking so, but as the history of our state suggests; sometimes it is important to understand the undercurrents and weigh the troubles a little earlier instead of waiting for the troubles to weigh you down. Earlier, the better than late forever!
May be the questions I am going to ask seem unwanted to some? May be these questions are going to create some awkward silence! May be they are not just questions but indirect answers to where’s it all leading to? May be they are too audacious to be even asked or worth a mention! May be they stir you in your seats. May be they do not make any sense at all or maybe they make you feel the heat! But one thing is for sure. They are going to question the status quo!
As a matter of fact, we all know that Kashmir is of strategic importance to us. Howsoever it doesn’t overshadows the fact that Jammu deserves its due attention too. This article is solely based on my observations and is open to debate and your opinions and the article holds no intention of hurting the sentiments of any group. It needs answers. To whomsoever it may concern.
I do not understand how tough it is for the government to take care of the cultural heritage or even build one which reflects the ethnicity of the people of a place. Mubarak Mandi palace is an example in place. Years have gone but the restoration work still remains pending. In recent decades I have not seen even a single architecture coming up that reflects the ethnicity of Dogra culture or any structure that reflects contemporary architecture. Something that speaks about the business acumen of people or city life of Jammu.There has been no plan or the one I know of which says these architecture will be done in consonance withcultural thread of people of Jammu. After all it is the educational institutions, community settlements such as hospitals or libraries, malls or government offices that are indicative of a culture of one place. Alas, that is hugely missing in Jammu. On the contrary yet another culture is getting its footprint embedded strongly.
No offense, but I have been failed to understand the motive behind the construction of Haj House in the prime location of Bahu Plaza in the Hindu dominated Jammu region. While on one hand there are no community libraries that give me sufficient material to read about Dogra culture or Jammu per se, I see Madrasas being open up in different localities of Jammu region. But when there is not enough Muslim population in these places, who are they going to teach? Or is it an indirect way of symbolic precedence? I wonder if the disparity is so stark in Jammu, what is happening in the other areas such as Rajouri, Poonch, Reasi of Jammu province.
While in summers, it is a treat for people to go visit Srinagar as tourist but year after years, summers are tampered with the coldness of indifference and protests. However the whole idea is to spend some good time in the summers. And on the contrary all the outer skirts of Jammu region have been inhabited by people coming from there. If I may call it the Greater Jammu, in its expansion, has more “permanent” influx of people from Kashmir than “temporary” outflux of others to Kashmir as tourists. Is it that there are lack of opportunities in Kashmir in which case it is a major concern and something should be done about that too or are there other reasons for such a movement?
We all know how in the past a particular section of ethnicity was evicted from their homeland. And all that was done under the ambit of the religious grounds. It seems to have been the best formula devised to distract the undercurrents from being noticed by futile violent eruptions, creating unrest. We all know this well that it is neither the wars nor the attacks that make a place and its people weak. But it is the erosion of their cultural roots that renders them powerless. And I see that happening in Jammu to Jammuites.
There is a silent wave of one culture that is going to take another culture by storm in just few years from now. May be I am being pre-emptive but then history is a precursor to the future events, and the present is a thread that connects the both. The present as such doesn’t look bright or even strong. Is this a preparation of yet another sinister plan?
Unfortunately, I have failed to understand why the secularism is so one-sided? When did democracy script equality to be appeasement of a particular section of society? I am not sure who is answerable to these questions, but definitely someone needs to take notice of all this.
The silent game doesn’t stop here at the cultural or ethnic level. The strategic disparity being bestowed on Jammu reflects very much at the administrative and development levels too. Connections is what I am referring to, if you didn’t infer it. Though there have been promises made from time to time, there is less we see happening on ground for Jammu. Redoing of Jammu Airport is a welcome step but then it is not enough. There are lot of opportunities that lay unearthed and need to be explored and worked upon.
I wanted to keep this apolitical but with PDP-BJP at the helm of affairs, I see a ray of hope that Jammu will gets its due attention in all aspects be it cultural, ethnic, development fronts. I write this article as a Wake Up call for the people of Jammu that it is high time we do not settle for anything less than what we deserve. I understand the importance of making money but if there will be no Jammu, our money will be of no use either.
We, the people of Jammu, need to think for the Jammu at a greater level. Jammu surely deserves to be a smart city and it is our responsibility to create opportunities for the educated youth. A collective effort never goes waste. The City of Temples deserves to be called Smart City of Temples. I suggest that all departments and organisations responsible for the overall development of Jammu city – be it civil, public works, administration, culture and linguistic department, heritage – all should come up with a plan to make Jammu a Smart City and rooted in its Dogra culture.And the plan should soon see the dawn of day.
If not today, it will be no far when Jammu will be a parable in the stories told to children by the families settled somewhere far. I do not want to read about Jammu in yet another likes of Khaled Hosseini classics.If we do not take care of Jammu, somebody else will and we will be losing Jammu. I am sure none of us wants to say, Once upon a time we lived in Jammu.So get up and say NO to Are we going to lose Jammu?