The Union Territory of J&K

Prof A N Sadhu
It was on Aug. 05-06,2019, the parliament resolved to divide the state of J&K into two union territories of J&K and Ladakh and three months later on Oct.31,2019 the two union territories came into existence. A new chapter is opened in the history of J&K. How it will shape shall become known some time from now; but there is lot to discuss even now. It has already made history in the sense that during the post-independence period, it is for the first time that a state has been changed to a union territory. Some people treat it as demotion or downgrading of a state. Why should such a demotion take place is in itself is a long debate which I wish to exclude from this write-up. Ladakh could probably be given the status of union territory without touching the existing status of J&K minus Ladakh. However, the political wisdom cannot be challenged outrightly unless a careful balance sheet is prepared objectively by rising above the personal considerations based on caste, creed, community or region. The discomfort of the people who have been at the helm of affairs is understandable and so is the uneasiness of those who had thrown an open challenge to the nation’s leadership. The tragedy of the state’s leadership has been that it remained caged both in thought and action. The leaders of the state virtually kept themselves insulated against the changes taking place at national and international level. One cannot keep whipping the horse all the time and make it run. One should also learn to drive alternative means of transport for certain and safe arrival at the destination provided further the destination is identified within the socio-political environment of which one has become a part by choice and not by deceit.
In a Nation state, there cannot be differential treatment for a region and its people for all times to come. Yes, such a treatment for a while may become necessary, in a country of wide diversity and the cushion period is to be used for drawing close to mainstream rather than moving farther away. It has really not happened in Jammu & Kashmir; not because people did not want it but because the leaders came in its way. Sporadic violence, isolated protests and casual interpretations are engineered and not spontaneous. Misinformation and disinformation is playing the spoil sport at the behest of vested interests. After the rainy season is over, some people helplessly tend to see things with jaundiced eyes till the air is cleared of its polluted content and visibility becomes distinct.
However, the concerns and apprehensions of the critics cannot be brushed aside. It is reported that Kashmir is simmering with anger, though media has been underplaying it. That Jammu is over excited may also be an exaggerated statement. Jammu has been demanding a separate state mainly on the ground that the region has witnessed persistent discrimination and neglect ever since 1947. As they did not get the statehood they probably are not as happy as they would have been with this type of reorganization. May be that they still hope for some more reprieve from delimitation which is being talked of. Any New Order brings with it hopes and apprehensions in an equal measure. While people of Jammu should hope for greater development in the years to come, they are equally worried that this reorganization may take a toll on their jobs and landed properties. This apprehension of theirs cannot be held as unreasonable on various counts- economic and social, both.
Besides similar type of apprehensions, Kashmiris are psychologically attached to 370 for a number of reasons which it may not be required to form a part of this write-up. The provocations coming from across the border, can also not be ignored. It is Kashmiris themselves who will be required to take a rational view. Some people-though very few-in the country have also taken a critical view of this reorganization, partly for political reasons and partly for political fantasy. These days, intellectualism has become a very broad-based term and, therefore, with a little effort, people can sell themselves as such. What is required is an honest intellectual input into the debate to straighten the cob-webs in the Kashmir issue. The readers, however, are equally sharp to draw a distinction between constructive criticism and political cynicism.
J&K has also to be viewed in historical perspective while taking decisions that are likely to produce lasting impact on its future related to the state’s polity, economy and society. Sporadic protests and isolated incidents of violence cannot be treated as conclusive for the future of the newly created UT-which may soon be restored to statehood. What is, therefore, important, is to see how soon the conditions in Kashmir stabilize and how soon will its composite culture be revived to enable J&K to attain its distinction of being a harmonious society. An important aspect in that regard is the return and rehabilitation of displaced KPs who have enriched the history and sociology of the valley for thousands of years. The displacement of this community took a heavy toll on historical and social values of the valley. Their displacement will be recorded as the worst tragedy and unprecedented human disaster after the Second World War. That their inalienable right to reconnect with their roots will have to be addressed immediately and listed among the top priorities of the national leadership.
J&K has entered into a new phase which is a hard reality. The rationality demands that it is recognized and efforts made to optimize the gains from the new dispensation. There in history, arise many a situation, where it demands statesmanship and not the short sided political vintage, which tends to jeopardize the interests of the masses. Debate is the essence of evolving societies and a pivot of vibrant and flowering democracy and it should continue. The J&K has seen unprecedented violence and it is time to work for peace. That there is extreme resentment and anger among some sections of population and that there is overexcitement among some other sections of population is only a media creation. In any case there is no scope for complacency because that itself can create space for disruptions as the elements inimical to peace and order are always on prowl. Let modesty overpower the vanity.