Time for introspection Have Dogras become weak, exhausted option less people?

Harsh Dev Singh
The state of J&K created by the Dogra rulers and warriors with their countless sacrifices has been dismantled. And the Dogra land of Jammu once again appended with Kashmir after the resultant Re-organization. Earlier it was J&K State. Now it is J&K UT. The status of J&K has changed and so has its nomenclature. The fate of Jammu people however remains unchanged. Jammu continues to suffer, to bleed, to get demeaned and diminished. And rather at a pace faster than ever before. Kashmir and Kashmir situation decide the policies and future course of things. And in the process, the incarcerated Dogra land and its people continue to feel belittled, humiliated.
The last few years have etched several creases on the face of Dogras. Even a seriously attempted smile fails to deliver the punch that it once carried. There is a kind of confusion writ large on the faces of those who once claimed to be a clan of warriors. Is this the realization of something terribly going wrong with the Dogra land? or is this a feeling of guilty conscience for having failed to act in the face of Jammu’s persistent deprivation and neglect? Whatever it may be, the situation surely calls for a deep introspection and soul searching by the Dogras. With their role fast squeezing in the socio-politico landscape of the new UT, the Dogras seem to be fast becoming irrelevant in the new set up. Despite inheriting a huge legacy, the Dogras seem to be sinking faster than the titanic.
Dogra land continues to be looked upon with a jaundiced eye. It seems to have been perennially assigned the role of second class citizenry. It continues to face deprivation and neglect in terms of development, funds allocation, employment, tourism promotion, power, Health facilities and Industrial promotion etc. It continues to be treated as an appendage to Kashmir. While the lion’s share has always to go to the highly mollycoddled Kashmir, the Dogra land has got to remain content with whatsoever falls in its kitty. A sort of fait accompli. So much so that even the self respect and dignity of Dogras has been compromised to keep the other side in good humour. The present day rulers are not only subscribing to the slogan of “Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat, Insansiyat” but have in a way discarded Dogriyat and the values it symbolizes. The recently held IIT convocation organized in Dogra heartland had the participants flaunting Kashmiri ‘Pherans’ and ‘Pakhtooni/Afghani’ caps which was a prescribed dress code. Does this not amount to humiliation of Dogras?
Dogras are made, rather forced to reconcile in the name of nationalism and patriotism. It is the Kashmir situation that determines the policies to be framed for Jammu region. The 4G connectivity has to be banned only because of alleged adverse security situation in Kashmir. The people of Jammu region are made to forego the said 4G internet facility as Kashmir has also to be denied this facility despite it having been declared a constitutional right by the Apex Court. The share of Jammu youth in Govt employment has consistently dropped to abysmally low levels with none in the govt to respond to shrill cries of aggrieved youth of the region. Huge settlements of outsiders permitted in the dogra heartland have posed a grave threat to our very culture, language and identity. Not only the Biharis, UPites and Assames but Rohingyas and Bangladeshis have been illegally settled posing a grave threat to our very safely and survival.
Not only that the outsiders have been made eligible for jobs in J&K which too would eventually deprive the Jammu youth of their already negligible job avenues. The educated youth of Dogra land employed in Govt jobs under a proper procedure are often disengaged while allowing their Kashmir counterparts to continue. This was seen even recently in the Deptt of H&ME wherein more than 1500 Health professionals of Jammu region were summarily thrown out of their Jobs without assigning any reason. The District and Divisional level posts have been thrown open for all which would further hamper the prospect of Jammu youth. 10,000 posts of SPOs sanctioned by centre were all provided to Kashmir with BJP leaders claiming that it was necessary in national interest.
While the Central and State Govt conceptualized and enforced a policy for rehabilitation of militants and stone-pelters, the victims of Amar Nath land row were left high and dry. The Govt even acknowledged during BJP-PDP rule that there was no policy for ex-gratia to martyrs in J&K. The killing of Burhan Wani was described as accidental during the erstwhile coalition rule and security forces demoralized by lodging FIRs against Army and other Para-military personnels. Militants were described as ‘brothers’ and ‘martyrs’ by the coalition partners of BJP in the Assembly and elsewhere with saffron leaders acting as mute spectators.
Jammu region was again discriminated in allotment of PG seats in H&ME Deptt with Kashmir getting focussed attention and enhanced share. Maharaja Hari Singh was dishonoured in Assembly and holiday declined on his birthday. Service tax was imposed on helicopter services to Mata Vaishno Devi. Dogra certificate to Dogras was declined. Kashmiri was thrust on Jammu region colleges. The common masses of Jammu had to take to streets to get Dogri subjects sanctioned for Jammu colleges. The tall slogans on providing Dogri satellite channel were conveniently forgotten. The CBI probe into Rasana case was denied by disregarding the aspirations of Dogras who were dubbed as ‘rapists supporters’. The developmental projects of dogra land have come to a grinding halt. Artificial Tawi Lake, Dogra Heritage of Mubarak Mandi, Development of Tawi on pattern of Sabar Mati and Jumbo Zoo project initially approved after the name of Raja Jambulochan all seem to have been abandoned.
Not only that Pro Pak slogans came to be raised in the Assembly for the first time in the history of legislature and that too in Jammu with none of the mandated leaders of Jammu coming forward to confront the felon throwing an open challenge to nationalist forces in Dogra heartland.
Are the aforesaid developments in tune with the basic instincts and core susceptibilities of Dogras as a class? Do they not amount to an insult to our very self respect and dignity? The authoritarian installation of Toll Plazas around the city of temples by our elected Govt and arbitrary denial of 4G are a stinging rebuke of the present regime trampling upon the rights and interests of the people of Jammu region. These leaders further tried to trivialize the significance of 23rd September by saying that people should do double the work on the birthday of Maharaja Hari Singh quite unmindful of their earlier assurances on the subject. Further the very existence of Dogra state founded by a dogra ruler became a subject matter of unfettered discretion of those who ascended to power on the strength of our votes. The arrogant rulers invoked Governor’s Rule and then used the Governor’s consent to dismantle the historical Dogra state and demote it to the level of UT.
The Dogras do feel heart burns over repeated betrayals and multiple dents inflected upon their self pride. But still silent. Why so? Where are the so called champions of Dogra cause? Where are the Dogra writers and columnists? Where are they who swore by Dogra pride on the drop of hat? Is it not the time to rise to the occasion? Much water has flown down the river Tawi. Shall the common Dogra not stand up to safeguard our rights and restore our dignity, our pride when our mandated leadership has abdicated the said responsibility. Shall we stay silent and allow the destruction of the freedoms that our ancestors and forefathers fought to defend. Are we so option less? Have we become weak and exhausted? Have we surrendered before those who have literally drudged us after their empowerment? Have we to continue to suffer to lose, to bleed. Has hopelessness engulfed us? Shall we not oppose, expose and depose those who used our mandate to humiliate and rather crush us? Mere shrugging of shoulders would enslave us for times to come. Dogra power must exhibit itself. Long closed lids must burst open. Long silenced voices must speak again. Lets show that Dogras still have the courage and capacity to bite the bullet. Lets redeem the Dogra land. Lets unite to fight the nefarious designs of those who are hell bent to demolish our culture and destroy our pristine glory.
(The writer is former Education Minister and Chairman J&K National Panthers Party)