Col J P Singh
Our memories are short. Let us recollect surgical strikes before they go out of mind. I never thought they will happen. Perhaps many thought so. I didn’t see them happening. Perhaps none else. But they happened. Conclusion is that surgical strike(s) can now happen if the gravity of the situation so warrants. L K Advani elevated BJP to unimaginable heights. He made Vajpayee rule for 6 years. He led BJP charge against Manmohan Singh govt. Who anticipated that BJP patriarch will face such inglorious downfall. It happened. Who anticipated that Pakistan’s bluff will be called so ignominiously. It happened. What happens to Pak nuclear threats after the strikes. Kashmir issue is turning a bit like that. Pakistani involvement is also exploding it. Nationalism and security are the key issues in the running election. Kashmir, as we all see, is sitting on an active volcano. Day of its reckoning is nearing. Jammu and Ladakh, being in the very near vicinity are looking at tough times ahead. Nation is also sensing the heat and tremor. There is a country wide apprehension that Kashmir is turning into a cancer necessitating a quick surgery. There is need for a surgical strike, not in the literal sense, before the Kashmir volcano erupts. I think something is in the offing. How and in what form it will happen can be any one’s guess. But one thing is certain that Modi knows how to make necessity a virtue or virtue a necessity. Should he come to power again, one way is its re-organisation.
Taking Jammu first, it is a distinct geographical region. Culturally too it is distinct. Similarly Kashmir and Ladakh have distinct geographical and cultural identity. After independence, only the people of Kashmir have been pampered whereas people of Jammu and Ladakh have been neglected. Despite that people in Kashmir have gone far ahead in threatening, challenging, blackmailing and exploiting Delhi. Pro-Pak slogans are heard there only. Tourists/Amarnath yatris are killed there only. Kashmiri leaders say that Kashmir will burn and none will be left alive (meaning none other than Kashmiris) to pick up Indian Flag, if Article 370 and 35A are tempered. We in Jammu along with Ladakhis undergo the sufferings with a stoic silence. Kashmiris don’t. They intimidate others. Of late Jammu is getting furious. Aroused to anger and indignation, a civil war like situation is likely even before the volcano erupts. Hence a surgical strike, not literally, is needed before things go out of hand. It should be something easily doable.
Appeasement of Kashmiris adopted by successive govts of India has gone too far to retrieve. Others are treated as second class citizens. Jammu is being treated as colony. Being politically, economically and socially neglected, others have given up hopes of fair deal at the hands of Kashmiri rulers. They infact are scared of Kashmiris because political power will always be with them. Ladakh’s separation is almost assured due to security reasons. Jammu also needs salvation for its security.
What necessitates re-organization of J&K. Besides what is stated above, Jammu has its own identity ever since Raja Jambo Lochan laid its foundation in the ninth century AD. In the nineteenth century Maharaja Gulab Singh added Ladakh and Northern Areas to it. Kashmir became its part by the ‘Treaty of Amritsar’. It was added to Jammu empire by the British for which they charged Rs 75 lakh. Hence integration of Kashmir into J&K was motivated by British interests because of their desire to create a buffer between the expanding Russian and Chinese empires. The union of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh thus is unnatural wedlock. It worked well so long as Dogra rule continued. Before this all these regions were exclusive of each of each other with own and distinct identity which they continue holding. Moreover Jammu’s population is more than 50% population of the state. Its area is nearly double of Kashmir. By this logic it should have more seats than Kashmir in the Legislative Assembly. But reverse is the case. Kashmir has 46 seats whereas Jammu has 37. If rules and guidelines given in the ‘Representation of the J&K People’s Act’ and the templates applied elsewhere were correctly followed, Jammu would have got at least 52 seats as against 46 of the valley. Hence all the ills that afflict Jammu are because of lopsided political structure. Undue weightage given to Kashmir in State Assembly and Lok Sabha coupled with the appeasement policy of the centre at the cost of Jammu and Ladakh has put Kashmir in a dominating position. It is because of political discrimination that 72 years have gone past with nobody from Jammu or Ladakh having been considered for Chief Ministership of J&K. Gualm Nabi Azad, though from Doda, got the coveted posted because of his Kashmiri lineage.
All the major national/regional political parties, despite their numerical strength in Jammu, never made any one from Jammu as its president. Ironically Kashmir has always been considered as sole representative of J&K. Various political accords such as of 1952 and 1975 were made by the central govt with Kashmiri leaders and were imposed on the people of the remaining two regions against their wishes.
Demographic invasion of Jammu is another reason for Jammu to get separated. There is likelihood of Jammu being prevented from voting in future elections by migrated anti national elements and foreign nationals, abundantly present in and around Jammu. In West Bengal voters are being prevented and intimidated by TMC goons. What may happen in Jammu 5/10 years ahead is unknown. Let Jammu not be the victim of such design. Hence restoration of its original status may save it from the impending dangers.
The first basis of reorganisation should be erstwhile reorganisation of states in 1956. The states were re-organised and new states created on the linguistic basis. J&K was a typical case for division. Ideally it should have been the very first to be divided into three separate states without any geographical or political glitch. This would have met the aspirations of the people in the emerging federal and democratic system of the country where guarantees were given for protection and preservation of cultural and linguistic identity of various places. But it was not done. Whatever may be the justification, the patriotic and nationalist people of Jammu and Ladakh felt cheated. This neglect of the sentiments of the people in 1956 was a cancerous mistake which continue to haunt Delhi till today. A surgery is needed to cure this cancer.
Another basis of the solution to ‘K’ issue should be a formula of ‘3 sub-states’ within the state. Sterling example is NEFA, the land of seven sister states. After independence, NEFA gradually turned into seven separate states under one Governor located at Shillong. This arrangement continued till late seventies. J&K state can be split into three sub-states under the Governor. That will stop traditional half yearly Darbar Move between Jammu and Srinagar saving a fortune which can be utilised for development. Prof. A M Pandit, has already mooted similar idea in his article ‘Why not Two Chief Ministers in J&K’ published in Daily Excelsior on 12 April 2019. He has also supported similar agenda of newly formed Dogra Swabhiman Regional Party in Jammu qualifying it by saying that this new party is getting wide intellectual and public support. I believe the idea is getting attention in Delhi also. Traditionally whatever Jammu has got so far, such as AIIMS, is after a struggle. Jammu’s time will come. Let Jammu unite under one umbrella and put its best foot forward to get justice.
Col J P Singh