Azad’s sinister U-turn
On March 21, 2022, former J&K CM and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and president of Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP), Ghulam Nabi Bhat alias Azad, sprung a big surprise by denouncing as divisive all those who had been terming the Jammu province’s highly mountainous Doda, Kishtwar, and Ramban districts as “Chenab Valley” since decades. He said without mincing words that “Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban districts (in Jammu province) couldn’t be termed as Chenab Valley and that plains situated between Reasi and Akhnoor tehsils (in this province) alone could be geographically termed as Chenab Valley”. He made this statement in Jammu while addressing a function organized by the civil society of Jammu to felicitate him for his Padma Bhushan Award, which was conferred by the Narendra Modi government.
Bhat also tore into those who had been leaving no stone unturned to make everyone believe and understand that Jammu’s Poonch-Rajouri mountainous belt alone constituted the “Pir Panjal region”, which is the natural barrier between Jammu province and Kashmir Valley. He dismissed as divisive all those who had been terming the Poonch-Rajouri belt “Pir Panjal region”.
The fact is that Bhat debunked the whole concept of Chenab Valley and Pir Panjal Valley and urged the powers-that-be in the state, media houses, and political class to not use such fake terms. It would be only appropriate to quote verbatim what he said while criticizing Vivek Agnihotri’s film The Kashmir Files, which actually was not a film but a true story of woeful and heart-wrenching tales of the miniscule minority of Hindus in Kashmir. Such an approach will help put things in perspective and expose those who had been seeking to break Jammu province into smithereens to achieve their sinister objective.
What did Bhat actually say?
Referring to the concept of Chenab Valley as presumed by some people, he said: “It is not only Ramban, Doda, and Kishtwar but the area below Reasi up to Akhnoor and Khour is also part of ‘Chenab Valley’. Rather it would be more appropriate to call the Akhnoor area as Chenab Valley because ahead of Reasi it is totally hilly region and from Akhnoor it actually appears like a Valley where irrigation facilities have also been created with the construction of Ranbir and Partap Canals. So, this entire area is ‘Chenab Valley’ and attempts should be avoided to divide people on this count. Rajouri-Poonch belt has been termed as the ‘Pir Panjal’ region and on this narrative, attempts were being made to create wedges among the people. We must shun such type of attempts to divide people for vested interests”.
Bhat did set the record by saying what he said about the geography of Poonch, Rajouri, Doda, Kishtwar, and Ramban districts, nay about the Jammu province. Indeed, he sprung a pleasant surprise by defining the topography of the Poonch, Rajouri, Doda, Kishtwar, and Ramban districts in the manner it should have been.
Interestingly, he himself had used the term Chenab Valley on November 4, 2014. “There is the need to further accelerate the process of progress and development in the Chenab Valley region. I assure the people that yet another united show will enable me to fulfill my dream of converting Chenab Valley into a ‘model region’ of the state,” he said while addressing election rallies at Bhella and Kishtwar area of the erstwhile Doda district . Similarly, he used these terms while commenting on the recommendations of the Jammu and Kashmir Delimitation Commission on December 20, 2021.
Believe it or not, it is a fact that on August 7, 2023, Bhat did a sinister U-turn and said what he had said on November 4, 2014, in the erstwhile Doda district. The case in point is what he said while addressing a public meeting at Gaggla in Doda. He, inter-alia, said: “The DPAP works above the politics of religion and region as proved by him during his short tenure of two and half years as CM of J&K…Chenab Valley continues to remain underdeveloped after so many decades due to politics of indifference. I and my party (DPAP) stand committed to the development of all far-flung areas in J&K which saw a golden era of progress during my tenure as CM even though it was a short period of two and half years”.
Indeed, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Bhat, like other Kashmiri Muslim leaders, is divisive, communal, and part of the group whose single-point agenda is not only to hold aloof J&K from the national mainstream but also to set up Greater Kashmir consisting of the 100 percent Muslim Kashmir and the adjoining the mountainous areas of Jammu province where the Muslims are somewhat more numerous or where the proportion of Muslims and Hindus is 55:45.
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
 Everyone affected with Pak sponsored terrorism in J&K: Azad – Mar 21, 2022, Daily Excelsior
 Ghulam Nabi Azad promises to develop Chenab Valley as ‘Model region’ – Nov 04, 2014, ET
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