Historic Day Milestone achieved-but long way to go

Rajan Gandhi
Gone are days of ‘One leader? (Abdullah), One party? (National Conference) and One programme? (Naya Kashmir)’, now it is ‘Ek Bharat Ekatma Bharat’,a slogan coined by BJP for a planned 15-day-long programme in Jammu and Kashmir from August 5 to mark the first anniversary of the revocation of Article 370. It all started with the Treaty of Amritsar in March 1846 when direct link was established between the two regions of Kashmir and Jammu as Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu skirted Kashmir to reach Ladakh via Kishtwar, a fact few know that Kashmir was not part of Dogra rule but under direct control of Sikh Lahore Darbar.General Zorawar Singh conquered Ladakh and Gilgit-Baltistan but Raja Gulab Singh remained loyal to the Lahore Durbar as long as Maharaja Ranjit Singh was alive. After death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, bloodiest power struggle erupted and Maharaja Gulab Singh also lost two brothers. Maharaja was invited by a senior Wazir of Lahore Darbar to become PM which Raja Gulab Singh declined.Amritsar treaty is often referred to as selling of Kashmir to Dogra Maharaja Gulab Singh but the fact is that it was war indemnity that the British had imposed on Sikhs. This is a lie which every subversive element use till today.
Only time when people of Jammu as well as Kashmir were on same page was in 1920s when a combined opposition was launched in the erstwhile Princely State against the induction of officers from outside, resulting in the state subject laws of 1927 (PRC)-event which coined the slogan “Kashmir for Kashmiris”and now used by subversives in valley.Based on this very idea, Quit Kashmir Movement was launched which further created a divide between Jammu Dogras and Kashmiri Muslims and ultimately gave way to creation of Paraja Parshad and later Jan Sangh with Sheikh Abdullah and NC being viewed as hegemons that would garner all the fruits of independence and of the accession to India, chiefly, political control. The terms of integration with India, based on the terms of the accession, had been negotiated by only Kashmiri leadership for over five long months with the constituent assembly of India and that draft became Article 370 prepared by Gopalaswamy Ayyangar, objected by Sardar Patel, Ambedkar, despite opposition from both within the CWC and the constituent assembly of India.The trigger point came when Abdullah Government implemented ‘land to the tillers’ without any compensation to erstwhile landowners and Praja Parishad agitation erupted in Jammu, led by Syma Prasad Mookerjee, who sought full integration of the state with the Union but Mookerjee passed away in June 1953 and rest is history how Article 35 A also got its backdoor entry through Presidential order.
All said and done PM Narendra Modi and HM Amit Shah took the historic decision and with Article 370 and 35A gone, two UTs of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir came into existence, first time in independent India a state has been converted to UT. As per proclamation, centre will be in direct control of the policethrough LG along with IAS/IPS and ACB.Surprisingly land has been kept as a subject under the elected Government despite lakhs of acres of state land encroached by politicians and land mafia.The strength of the Assembly will be 107, which will be further enhanced to 114 after a delimitation exercise is carried out in the Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir. Twenty-four seats of the Assembly will continue to remain vacant as they fall under Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK). The UT of Jammu & Kashmir will have four MPs in the Rajya Sabha and 5 MPs in the Lok Sabha with Ladakh one MP. For the first time, reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, part of a broader scheme of extending national reservations to the region.Terms will be of five years rather than the six-year terms.The abrogation of Article 370 paved the way for all Central laws to the new Union Territories. The fifth schedule to the Act also lists 106 Central Acts which will now be applicable in the Union Territories, while 153 State Acts get repealed. Several State Acts, however, will continue, including the Public Safety Act which has been used for preventive detentions. Several laws were never applied in erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, for instance, the Supreme Court judgments decriminalising consensual homosexual acts under Section 377 of the IPC and its striking down of the child marital rape exception in Section 375 of the IPC, did not apply to our state.Other major changes will be to personal laws and transfer of property, the 2005 Hindu Succession Act amendments that gave women equal inheritance rights as men will now apply. The restrictions on transfer of property under Section 139 of the J&K Transfer of Property Act are also gone now.Juveniles between the ages of 16 and 18 can also be prosecuted as adults now – the 2015 Central law hadn’t been enacted in the state till now. The Central RTI regime is also applicable now with even Jammu and Kashmir Bank under the RTI act.IPC’s Section 304-B which punishes ‘dowry deaths’, also gets applicable now.
While I.K. Gujral and Manmohan Singh were refugees but still they became PMs of India but at the same time Jammu and Kashmir refugees never got even voting rights.With new Domicile Law now implemented, lakhs of refugees, Valmikis, women married outside the state/UT and many others who served in Jammu and Kashmir for fifteen years have got their due rights after 72 years of independence.’Ek Vidhan Ek Pradhan Ek Nishaan’ is reality now. Numerous other benefits are getting passed on to both the UTs now.But as they say every coin has two sides, COVID Pandemic has come as a bolt from blue resulting in total standstill of everything during crucial transition period. It is very important to acknowledge that Jammu and Kashmir was a huge state, in fact biggest Princely State before Independence, though we lost Gilgit, Baltistan and part of Ladakh within two years of independence and subsequently lost many other areas including Chamb, Aksai Chin. No other UT is even half of the size of our UT. This creates a practical problem of managing it with the help of mere four advisors. The problem gets further complicated with pandemic situation and absence of 4G mobile network. Unlike earlier Governor SP Malik, present LG and his official advisors are not available on any social media platform as such practically out of touch with public and ground realities. With the scattered departments between Jammu and Srinagar with skeleton staff it has become a herculean task to get the wheels of administration moving. Frequent lockdowns along with few resources of transportation has virtually made it impossible for a common man to get his grievances passed on to the concerned authorities to get some immediate relief. With closed OPDs, no online domicile certificates, no one line registration at RTO offices, it’s beeline of public running pillar to post but all this has just helped in spreading the killer pandemic with thousands of physical files acting as carriers. No system has been put in place to address these issues to avoid unnecessary gatherings.
Delimitation on the basis of allegedly fudged 2011 Census is another point of simmering discontent. Next national consensus is due, what is the hurry, all stake holders especially Jammu’s view point should be taken into account as it is Jammu which has suffered the most under dynast rule of NC and PDP and illegal land jihad is the reality. Protecting this frontier is of utmost importance. Land mafia is another nemesis for government with lakhs of acres of land grabbed specifically in Jammu Division. Practically speaking many MLAs of ruling party are themselves actively involved and recent FIRs, Court orders are a testimony that all is not well on this aspect. Limited action on corruption is another most important issue, with almost one year gone virtually no action against politicians and bureaucrats is not going well with public. If Government is serious, concrete visible steps should immediately be initiated. Slow pace of development works especially under PMDP projects is lingering on for too long.Opening of only Bahu to Mahamaya section of Jammu Rope is a testimony that all is not well. Ruling Government even in seventh year is unable to project anything tangible on ground. Tawi River Front, AIIMS, Metro, Jammu-Akhnoor four laning, Mubarak Mandi, Flyovers, Jammu Zoo all are still in incubation, some projects totally halted right now, some contractors have left midway like four laning of Jammu-Akhnoor and some shelved like Dry Port. No progress on tourism project and practically no new industry is a serious issue. Most important Jammu Airport Airstrip extension is held up due to non-availability of construction material and incomplete death trap of Udhampur-Ramban highway are long pending issues.
Historical decision has been taken, first milestone achieved but still a long way to go is the practical situation on ground. All pillars of administration must act in tandem to pace up the things without which it is a half-baked cake with practically no taste. With no tourism, no industry, no business situation is precarious as such Government must understand it is not an ever going process, public has shown full faith in PM Modi but ultimately results have to be delivered on ground.