The NC leadership and its new allies are creating a political environment that will surely make the people of Jammu province pursue the Ladakhi path
The separation of the Cold-Desert Ladakh from Kashmir and its conversion into a Union Territory (UT) in August 2019 should have made the National Conference (NC) leadership to sit up and appreciate the circumstances under which such a development of great import took place. Sadly, it didn’t happen. The NC leadership didn’t even try to understand why Ladakh after 186 years went out of the erstwhile State of J&K or why the Narendra Modi Government divided the state into two UTs – UT of Jammu and UT of Ladakh. What happened was to the contrary.
As soon as NC president Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah were freed from detention, they again started displaying arrogance, obstinacy and fanaticism overlooking the fact that the situation in the erstwhile state and at the Centre had completely changed. They made one provocative statement after another to tell New Delhi and the people of Jammu province that the NC and its political foes-turned-friends, including the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), are the sole factor in the political situation in the J&K UT and UT of Ladakh. On the one hand, the NC leadership told New Delhi that if it really wished peace to return in Kashmir, it had no other option but to recognize it as a bridge between J&K+Ladakh and New Delhi and, on the other, it provoked the people of Jammu province and Ladakh by saying that they had no other option but to throw in their socio-cultural, economic and political lot with Kashmir whatever they think of her.
It completely and willfully ignored the fact that around 4 lakh out of a total of about 4.5 lakh government and semi-government employees in J&K belong to the community to which the NC leadership and its new political friends belonged.
“If by bridge you (Delhi) mean that we will allow them (read people of Jammu and Ladakh) to bring their voices and propagate it here, that’s not a bridge. If by bridge you mean that you will allow us (Gupkaris) to take the voices of J&K and Ladakh and propagate it there, it is fine,” said Omar Abdullah on August 31.
Each and every word that he spoke is self-explanatory and, hence, no need for further elucidation. Suffice it to say that the Abdullahs told the Narendra Modi Government and the people of Jammu province and Ladakh that they were ready to act as bridge between J&K and India and discuss with the Modi Government the political status of J&K vis-à-vis India, if it allowed them to propagate the voices of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
As if all this was not a grave provocation, the NC leadership went several steps further the same day and adopted what could be termed as naked communal approach. They questioned the very character of the J&K government. “What about the representative character of the government?”, asked Omar Abdullah. He himself answered. He said: “We are still a Muslim-majority state. Look at the make-up of our administration today. Lt Governor is non-Muslim; Chief Secretary non-Muslim; DGP non-Muslim; both Divisional Commissioners are non-Muslims; both IGs of police non-Muslims; the Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir high court is non-Muslim; the rest of the High Court bench — barring two Judges — are all non-Muslims. How many of your deputy commissioners and SPs posted in Kashmir today are Kashmiri-speaking?…We are not fundamentalist people. We don’t play the religious card, but when there is such a severe communal imbalance, there will be resentment”.
The NC leadership conveniently overlooked the composition of the Secretariat; the administrative set-up, the banking and all other institutions in the Valley, and even Jammu province. It completely and willfully ignored the fact that around 4 lakh out of a total of about 4.5 lakh government and semi-government employees in J&K belong to the community to which the NC leadership and its new political friends belonged. But more than that, the NC leadership ignored the very composition, character and ideology of its own party and of the parties like the PDP, the Congress, the People’s Conference (PC), the CPIM, the People’s Democratic Front (PDF), the Awami National Conference (ANC), to mention only a few. All these outfits are controlled by the members of a particular religious sect. All are from Kashmir and all members and followers of these outfits are from one religious community.
It was the role of the people of Jammu province and Ladakh which finally forced the Modi Government to render Article 370 unreal, scrap Article 370, do away with the J&K Constitution and J&K flag and also withdraw residuary powers.
The fact of the matter is that the NC leadership has left no stone unturned to provoke the already rather angry people of Jammu province to go the Ladakhi way. It would not be out of place to refer here to what Omar Abdullah said about Jammu province on July 27, 2020. He, inter-alia, said: “If the reason for carving out a separate UT for Ladakh was the public demand among the Buddhist population of the area, then the demand for a separate state for the people of Jammu is a much older demand…”
What does all this suggest? It clearly suggests that the NC leadership is fully aware of the ground situation in Jammu province. It needs to be underlined that the people of Jammu province put forth a demand seeking separation from Kashmir in November 1947. As for the Ladakhis, they for the first time sought separation from Kashmir in 1949. The reasons advanced by the then Jammu leadership and the Ladakh leadership were the same: Jammu and Ladakh couldn’t afford any kind of relationship with Kashmir where the NC leadership stood for greater autonomy, bordering on virtual sovereignty, and which always – with the full backing of New Delhi – forced down the throats of Jammu and Ladakh its separatist will.
All in all, it can be said that the NC leadership and its new allies are creating a political environment that will surely make the people of Jammu province pursue the Ladakhi path. The people of Jammu province and Ladakh have not given the power of attorney to Kashmikri leaders. They are the master of their own fate and they are committed to India. Their watchword all along was, and continues to be, full merger with India and application of the Indian Constitution to the state in full. It was the role of the people of Jammu province and Ladakh which finally forced the Modi Government to render Article 370 unreal, scrap Article 370, do away with the J&K Constitution and J&K flag and also withdraw residuary powers. The Kashmiri leaders would do well to see all these facts in the face and stop making outrageous and provocative statements.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.