By Daya Sagar
It may not be right to profess (though many in general profess) that Jammu region has been pushed back constitutionally, administratively, economically and development wise because J&K has all these years remained dominated by the governments that cared for only Muslims since had it been so how could the areas of Jammu region with large Muslim population remain neglected administratively and politically? The areas outside Kashmir Valley too have large Muslim population. So, now onwards more of responsibility lies on the mainstream leadership and more so social groups for working on the ground with very careful and committed approach so that a process of medicating the ‘local’ ideological pollution and fighting out the anti elements is taken ahead with force but peacefully. In view of recent constitutional amendments the leadership has to be more cautious while using the terms like special status, merger, separate constitution, separate flag, separate citizen ship and the like while making reference to issues related to J&K.
All these years from political as well administrative view points more focus was kept by even government of India only on Kashmir valley. It will be more fair in case it is said that more attention was paid to “leaders” from Kashmir valley and the common man there too has remained the victim of the lust of local leaders who kept the simple Valley masses lost in religious and regional controversies and was given no time for questioning those voted to power for not having given good governance for the last seven decades. That is why the Kashmir valley leadership has gone more into shock fearing that survival now onwards will be difficult without ‘that’ fertile field cast with religion / 1947 accession related controversies after the recent proceeding in Indian Parliament although whatever happened after 5th August was within the provisions as enshrined in Constitution of India.
The Kashmir Valley had been unduly given extra leverage even in the J&K Legislative Assembly by getting allocated by Delimitation Commission in 1995, 46MLA segments out of 87 MLA segments even when as per Section-50 of J&K Constitution 14 elected MLCs had been allocated to areas of Jammu region and just 12 MLC over Kashmir Valley and at least three (geographical compactness, terrain, means of communications) out of four vital parameters laid for delimitation as per J&K Representation of People’s Act 1957 were more in favour of areas of Jammu region for giving a representative of nearness in legislature to the people in view of more of distant and backward areas and people falling in Jammu region. Not only that After Pakistan occupied some areas of J&K in October – November 1947 the Kashmir Valley was left with just over two districts Anantnag (Srinagar was a tehsil of Anantnag) , Baramulla and a small part of Muzaffrabad ) where as Jammu region still had over four districts plus two Jagirs of Poonch and Chenani but in 1979 so unfairly Kashmir region was divided into as many as six district administrative units and in Jammu region also only six districts were kept where as by method of proportions the number of districts in Jammu region should have been raised to at least 10-11. Not only that even when in 1984 Wazir Commission recommended for three new districts in Jammu region and only one for Kashmir region so unfairly the Congress- PDP government in 2006 gave four more new districts to Kashmir Valley as against only one recommended by Wazir Commission in 1984 and only four more districts to Jammu region as against three recommended i.e Kashmir region was given 300 % more than what was recommended and Jammu region was given 33 % more than what was recommended. No any corrections have been applied even for more than 13 years even when many logical representations have made been after 2006 and people of Rajouri district agitated in 2017-18. It is not out of place to mention here that at the national level the macro planning is done taking an administrative district as a reference unit. The road infrastructure, development of commercial tourism/ adventure tourism/ summer tourism / health tourism and like affairs have remained totally neglected as regards Jammu region. The pilgrim tourism that exists in the name of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji is not out of government efforts but is out of religious bonds that Hindu pilgrims bear.
The status of mango and citrus cultivation in Jammu region is poorest of the poor even when compared with Himachal Pradesh. The status of other horticulture crops in Jammu region too is disappointing. Even Rajmash the most sought after pulse that is grown in Jammu region has not been given any special programme / scheme where as state like Himachal Pradesh has progressed much ahead in these fields. The saffron of Kishtwar was quoted in J&K assembly by the then Agriculture Minister during PDP- Congress Government (March 2003 ) as of being of much higher unit trade value than that of Valley saffron i.e. if Kishtwar saffron worth 400 units and Kashmir valley worth only 250 units and National Saffron Mission was sanctioned by GOI after that but even in 2019 no one outside recognises Kishtwar with saffron. So, right assessment would be to say that the approach had been all along Kashmir valley centric but still governments do not appear to have reached the common man in Kashmir valley too. Surely the ‘Kashmris’ too will support any special steps that will be taken for undoing the neglect that the distant / backward areas of the proposed UT of J&K has suffered so far. The real facts will have to be carried to the Valley masses as well.
Local politicians have been able to keep the people of Jammu region too off the factual tracks by dragging them in regional or accession related controversies with people of Kashmir valley on the one hand and on the other hand by raising religion based controversies worth also creating some local ideological ravines between the population in Jammu region as well. The Regional Autonomy Committee (29 November 1996) report (13 April 1999) too was got tailored by the leadership more to divide the people of Jammu region since the committee was made to propose three regional / provincial councils in Jammu Region , (Jammu– District Jammu plus Kathua district and Udhampur District excluding Mahore Tehsil : (Chenab Valley — Doda district and Mahore Tehsil : (Pir Panchal– Rajouri plus Poonch districts.) Had the intentions been pious / truthful , the J&K Governments would have ordered six new Regional Councils in the year 2000 itself where as it has not been done even up to 2018.
So, it is quite evident that the ‘exercise- Regional Councils’ was simply done just to weaken the voice of Jammu region, unfortunately the people of Jammu region could not understand the designs and some became ambitious hoping for some position in regional councils by the names like Chenab Valley , Pir Panchal and when installed in Jammu region.
Common man of Jammu region as well as Kashmir region has paid enough of price out of the political game plans of the ‘conventional’ leadership that has remained in power all these years. Now it is high time for the people of Jammu region as well as that of Kashmir region to understand the ‘real worth’ of the ‘leaderships’ that they have been so far voting to power.
(Daya Sagar is a Sr Journalist and social activist can be reached at [email protected])