Jammu, Ladakh demand separation from Kashmir PDF Print E-mail

Author: Sandhya Jain
Publication: ABPLive.in
Date: September 9, 2016
Source: http://www.abplive.in/blog/jammu-ladakh-demand-separation-from-kashmir

The unsurprising failure of the all-party delegation to Jammu & Kashmir on September 4-5 has had two immediate repercussions – a hardening of the Centre’s attitude towards the separatists who have long fattened on the Indian exchequer, and an enraged Jammu province escalating its demand for separate Statehood.

Berating the delegation led by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh for batting only for jihadis, Jammu leaders condemned the delegation for not finding time to speak to representatives of Jammu, Ladakh and the non-Muslim minorities of the State. The representatives of 12 organisations representing Kashmiri Pandits and others, based in Jammu, boycotted the APD after being allotted a miniscule eight minutes; they dubbed the whole process a farce.

On the other hand, some opposition members of the APD broke away to visit separatists and managed to exchange pleasantries with JKLF chief Yasin Malik at the BSF camp in Humhama; Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Shabir Shah at the Chashma Shahi guest house. But they were rebuffed when they visited the homes of former Hurriyat chairman Abdul Ghani Bhat and Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who want Pakistan on board the dialogue. No attempts were made to contact groups like the Shia, the Bakkerwals and the Gujjars, let alone the Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains or Hindus of Jammu & Kashmir.

Jammu For India, a grassroots organisation of Jammu nationalists, has demanded that the Centre stop the policy of trying to placate the separatists and safeguard the national interest in this strategic region by separating Jammu and Ladakh and bifurcating the Valley for Kashmiri Hindus. This will have the merit of limiting the area of jihadi strife in the Valley to an area of just 5,000 sq km.

The organisation lamented the shabby treatment meted out to the province, treating them as appendages of Kashmir valley, with no aspirations of their own. “It was disgusting and shameful that the All-Party Delegation kept all doors opened for Toms, Dicks and Harrys in Kashmir and begged a meeting with Pakistani agents and shut all doors for the nationalists,” said JFI convener Prof Hari Om.

The JFI has taken strong exception to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s request to the APD for an “unconditional dialogue with Pakistan and Hurriyat”. This vindicates the nationalists’ stand that the purpose of the current unrest is to drive Jammu & Kashmir out of India and help the Kashmiri Muslims to establish a religious state on Indian territory.

There is deep despair in Jammu and Ladakh that the Union Home Minister visited Kashmir twice in the past 50 days but did not find time to visit either Jammu or Ladakh to inform himself of the problems facing the people of these two neglected regions. The All-Party Delegation spent over 26 hours in Srinagar but visited Jammu for a few hours to complete a formality.

Jammu is now demanding complete merger with India, without further delay. JFI points out that far from fighting for autonomy or self-rule, PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig, MP, has exposed the fact that the radicals are fighting for a Muslim state, “which is their own”. It is suspected that they are working for a theocratic dispensation.

This is tantamount to a second communal partition of India and its eventual dismemberment. Asserting implacable opposition to demands for all variants of azadi, be it the Musharraf formula, the discredited Dixon Plan or Chenab formula or Kathwari formula, the Working Groups’ reports or the nasty report of the interlocutors, JFI insists that all these are calculated to take Jammu and Kashmir out of India and destroy the minority communities (Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and Christians) which constitute six million population of the State.

Moreover, the extant politico-constitutional and administrative structure is unitary and Kashmir-centric. The Kashmiri leadership exploits this to the hilt daily, to its own benefit and to the benefit of the Kashmiri people. The Kashmiri leadership takes all policy decisions, most of which are divisive and aimed at depriving Jammu and Ladakh and the minorities of their legitimate share in the state’s political, economic and social processes.

As Jammu province hosts two million refugees from Pakistan, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the Kashmir Valley, the excess weightage to Kashmir and the Kashmiri tends to victimize the people of Jammu. This is specially resented in the sensitive districts of Rajouri, Poonch, Doda and Udhampur.

Discrimination against Jammu is so rampant that whenever a decision is taken to establish any prestigious institution or project in the State, Kashmir Valley always gets preference and Jammu has to agitate for its due. After the first Budget of the Modi Government, an AIIMS was announced for Jammu region, but shifted to Kashmir Valley; the people of Jammu had to agitate for months before another AIIMS was sanctioned for Jammu region as well. Similarly, a medical college, Central university and various other institutes were first established in Kashmir and thereafter sanctioned for Jammu after various agitations.

The J&K High Court Bar Association, Jammu, adds that there can be no question of reverting to pre-1953 status as it is retrograde step and would weaken the relations between the State and the Union, when the effort should be to fully integrate Jammu & Kashmir with the Union to meet the aspirations of nationalists in all three sections of the State. Nor should the issue of Accession be raised again and again.

The people of Leh also objected to the neglect of Ladakh region by the All-Party Delegation. In a memorandum submitted to the Union Home Minister through the civil administration of Leh, several organisations — PT Kunzang, vice president Leh Buddhist Association, Rinchen Namgyal, president LBA Youth, Sheikh Saif-ud-Din, president Anjuman Moin Islam, Ashraf Ali Barcha, president Anjuman Imamiya and David Sonam, president Christian Association — warned of repercussions for ignoring Ladakh.

The Sikhs of Jammu & Kashmir have also joined the fray, for the first time, with Dr Raminder Jit Singh, founder of the non-profit organization, THE SARA, writing to Prime Minister Modi to express disappointment at the shabby treatment meted out to the community by successive regimes in the State. Besides blatant disempowerment since 1947, incidents like Chitti Singhpura and Mehjoor Nagar killings have jolted the confidence of Sikhs, though the community stood like a rock and did not migrate.

The plight of Sikhs can be gauged from the fact that it has no representation in the democratic set up of the State. Even though the State Constitution provides for nominations for deprived communities to the Assembly, this provision has been ignored to the detriment of the Sikh community.

- The writer is a political affairs commentator and author