Identity is not static it also evolves like nations. It is a crystalisation of ethos, history and culture at a particular time of history of a region or nation. It is neither opaque nor monolith. It’s multi and unidimensional at the same time.
The narrative is a sub-text of identity and not independent of it. Identity and narrative- a later construct- are the two words haunting Jammu for the last 70-yr . They came into play as “ruler” found it hard accepting being reduced to “subject”
This role reversal largely redefined undertones of Jammu’s identity. Still coming down with new reality, the new “ruler” (Kashmir) forced down Jammu’s throat to accept being reduced to “subject”. Former Sadar-e-Riayasat and scion of once ruling Dogra family, Dr Karan Singh in an interview said Sheikh Abdullah made a campaign against dynasty and made song and dance of it.
Advertently or inadvertently Jammu slowly got gripped by the Kashmir syndrome . In the process it lost plot of redefining its identity. Strangely, the consistently increasing animosity pushed Jammu into Kashmir’s grip. It can’t be blamed, though, but what got troubling was it got unidirectional. It started believing that roads of all problem ailing Jammu lead to Kashmir.
While Kashmir shaped and sharpened its narrative, though, delusional to large extent, Jammu perfected the art of attacking it. It found solace and a sense of “purpose” in it. Hitting at Kashmir’s narrative was assumed as Jammu’s identity. Political parties gaining from it too stoked it but neither defined or reinforced Jammu’s identity.
It wasn’t a surprise that having invested heavily in this “purpose” it unwittingly got “attached” to Kashmir. And the result was like Kashmir , Jammu too started believing in conspiracy theories. The conspiracy theories were prefaced largely on single line: identity under attack.
Both the regions stoked a perceived monster- though for different reasons and shades- believing it be on prowl to “wipe” out their identities For Kashmir the monster had many shades but for Jammu, just one: Kashmir.
This perceived monster entered discourse in offices, living rooms and even bed rooms. It gripped Jammu to the extent that it started believing Kashmir was single factor for all wrongs ailing it. It lost sight of the fact that “abusing” and “cursing” Kashmir wouldn’t absolve it of its own fallacies
In this state of “delusion” Jammu lost sight of course correction and in the process, sense of history was pushed to dark corners. While discrimination has all along being a dominant theme, largely backed by facts, it gained proportions in 90s’, the period when terrorism started in Kashmir and Kashmir Pandits were forced to migrate.
In late 2000s’ the narrative subtly changed from discrimination to demography change. ” Islamisation”, “jihad” , were not the words in Jammu’s dictionary, but they were manufactured and started whirling as they provided fangs to monster. How this change came about was not analysed no one answered it and Jammu also didn’t seek an answer..
While discrimination was solely Jammu’s narrative, narrative of demography change had many actors. Jammu was made to believe fighting demography change was fight for its survival, but importantly it itself was reduced to a spoke of a wheel circled by player who have anything but love for Jammu leave alone any understanding of its ethos
Jammu was made to believe demography change was another Kashmir design to wipe out its identity. The very word Kashmir made Jammu to believe the “threat” was real.
It got so overwhelmed by the monster that it lost sight of the fact that all efforts to change demography profile in erstwhile Doda region had failed. This region had witnessed maximum selective killings by terrorists who were provided fire arms and ideological support by Pakistan.
These sinister designs failed as Doda residents had self-belief to defeat terrorism. VDC members of Doda region fought with primitive weapons while terrorists had lethal AK47. Terrorism was wiped out, design failed because Doda residents not only fired hard at terrorists but also at the fear mongerers.
But, the perceived monster of demography change and “jihadi” forces waiting to wipe out Jammu’s identity gained strength for the reason it lost sense of its own valour and fortitude. It’s was nothing short of an irony that fear “migration” became talk of town. Not just commoner but even high officers started believing that Jammu will not remain “safe” and they had to “migrate”, some even started purchasing land outside Jammu.
This sense of “migrating” wouldn’t have come if Jammu had not lost sight of history. It happened because legends of Gen Zorawar Singh, who conquered Ladakh and Tibet, seemed like a fairy tales. The historical facts became fairy tales because Jammu lost sense of history or was made to do so.
A race, ethnicity which not only once ruled Kashmir but Gilgit -Baltistan, and Tibet on the strength of its self-belief and valour got so scared and weakened by perceived monster that it started of thinking to migrate was nothing short of an irony.
It happened because it was allowed to happen. It happened because Jammu lost self-belief and conviction to take on hostile factors, even if perception is to become a reality. It happened for the simple reason that articulation, to a large extent, was outsourced, and fear was infused to weaken the spirit of Jammu.
The centres of outsourced articulation-like BPO- started using Jammu as a client. Any client bring gains which can be economical or ideological. These BPOs didn’t amplify history but fear. To instil fear of identity, religion was prized asset which also had commonality between “client” and BPO master. They manufactured narrative and gave spin too.
By instilling nothing else but fear and even vicitmhood, these BPOs ensured that Jammu’s sense of its history and valour was wiped out from the mindspace. BPO operators and old hands in playing Joseph Goebbels’ trick. The result was immediate and effective. Jammu started believing what was churned from these spin factories.
So, it wasn’t a surprise that heroic valour of Zorawar Singh seemed like fairy tale, valour and sacrifice Bawa Jito seemed like from another time zone. Peasant Bawa Jitto sacrificed his life for standing up against tyrannical ruler. It’s the same spirit which was reflective in heroic deeds Zorawar Singh and gave strength to Pandit Prem Nath Dogra to take on then all powerful Sheikh Abdullah. This spirit is anti-thesis of “victimhood” feeling, which these BPOs had been instilling.
Dogra identity’s fundamental and important trait is being fearless and standing against odds. It got reflective in even in cultural and intellectual landscape too. Writers like Ved Pal Deep, Madhukar, Nilambhar Dev Sharma, Yash Sharma despite being proficient in English and Hindi gave their life to enrich and promote Dogri. Though, english or Hindi could have earned them name, fame and money but they put cause before anything. It happened because cause was as real as was belief.
If Dogras’ expanded J&K’ geographical foundries they also assimilated and gave refuge to millions starting from 1947. Jammu is liberal and conservative at the same time. It may sound paradoxical but only if viewed puritanical prism of conservativism
Zealously guarding one’s dentity but not being hostile to others is also conservatism. Drawing bold red lines for forces inimical to its identity and raising red flag when liberal spirit is construed as weakness is also conservatism. No surprise, this spirit doesn’t fit into the scheme of things of BPOs as reinforcing this spirit would mean Jammu would not need these spin factories. And, they can’t afford to lose a client
Dogras’ is a small community but not clannish. It’s docile but fiercely assertive too. It’s introvert but don’t let others to do talking for it. It may not be methodical but is not opportunistic and puts pride before anything. The identity is its pride possession.
Narrative is a synthesis of history, ethos and culture. Once the narrative is corrupted it mutates like virus and attacks identity. Articulation not only acts as mask to prevent such an attack but also a vaccination if once attack. Jammu now needs not just two but multiple doses of articulation vaccination.