By Hari Om
Hari Om is one of the most prominent faces of Jammu. He is a well-known academician, columnist and historian. A former spokesman of the Jammu BJP , he was recently expelled from the party for protesting the compromise it was making with the PDP.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]W[/dropcap]hen the National Conference (NC) and Congress ruled Jammu & Kashmir between 2010 and 2015, for all practical purposes the state assembly had been converted into a platform for delivering anti-India and pro-Pakistan speeches by several members of the Kashmir valley. On March 28, 2013 the assembly rejected the demand of the Jammu-based Opposition parties like Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Jammu & Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) and the Jammu State Morcha (JSM) that it should pass a resolution condemning Pakistan for the brutal murder of the poor farmer Chamel Singh of Jammu in the notorious Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore in January 2013.
When they failed in their move, the angry and outraged members of these Opposition parties staged a walk-out and held protests outside the Assembly. The Jammu & Kashmir Assembly exhibited its worst form of insensitivity on expected lines.
Pakistani soldiers had captured Chamel Singh deep inside the Indian territories (Pargwal), part of Deputy Chief Minister and Congress leader Tara Chand’s constituency, in 2008, when he was working in his fields. He was sentenced to a five-year jail term by the Pakistani court on the charge of espionage. Before he could complete his jail term, the prison wardens murdered him, but not before mutilating his body. The autopsy reports confirmed that Chamel Singh was brutally tortured and mercilessly beaten by the jail staff before his death. He was declared dead on arrival by doctors at the state-run Jinnah Hospital on January 15, 2013.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]P[/dropcap]akistan handed over his body to the Indian authorities on March 13 at Wagah border (Punjab). In between, Jammu witnessed a sustained campaign directed against Pakistan, with all sections of society urging the authorities in New Delhi and the State to force Islamabad to hand over his body to his family. In other words, it was under intense pressure that the Pakistani authorities handed over his body to the Indian authorities.
If the outraged Opposition parties in Jammu held strong protests against barbarous Pakistan and the insensitive NC-Congress coalition Government in the State on March 28, a visibly angry BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad on the same day expressed his grief and shock over the brutal murder Chamel Singh and urged the Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre to act tough against Pakistan, saying it would be a crime against man and God if the Pakistani butchers responsible for the crime were not brought to justice.
Apart from urging the UPA-Government to act tough with Pakistan and avenge the brutal murder of Chamel Singh, the opposition parties also made common cause with the members of the bereaved family and demanded adequate compensation for them, as also jobs for the martyr’s two sons, Dara Singh and Deepak Singh. The BJP demanded compensation of Rs 1.25 crore for the family. They also repeatedly drew the attention of the NC-Congress coalition government in the State and Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre to the heart-rending woes of Chamel’s wife, who has to look after her four children. While the NC and Congress leaders from the State expressed their helplessness saying the rules didn’t provide for compensation to the families of those killed or murdered on foreign soil, the insensitive UPA Government also adopted an indifferent attitude. The murder of Chamel Singh and the pathetic life of his widowed wife Kamlesh Devi and her four children didn’t seem to move the powers-that-be in the State and at the Centre.
And it was not altogether unexpected.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]H[/dropcap]owever, what has shocked the people of Jammu province all the more is the indifferent attitude of the PDP-BJP coalition government in the State and the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre towards the abandoned Kamlesh Devi and her family, which has been leading a wretched life for years now. The BJP has completely forgotten the family or left everything to the care of the State’s Home Ministry, which is controlled by the PDP. During the Lok Sabha campaign, Narendra Modi had taken up their case in Jammu on December 1, 2013, when he addressed a mega rally at MAM Stadium and gave the people to understand that everything possible will be done to compensate the Chamel Singh’s family. The J&K BJP prabhari and Member of Rajya Sabha, Avinash Rai Khanna, plus almost all the local BJP leaders, assured and reassured the bereaved family of all possible help. The BJP used the emotive issue to the hilt during the 2014 general election and J&K Assembly elections as well.
More than 18 months have passed since the installation of the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre and nine months have passed since the formation of the PDP-BJP coalition government in the State, but nothing has changed for Kamlesh Kumari and her children, including two sons, who are daily wagers. They continue to cry for justice, but with no result. The truth, in short, is that the present dispensations in the state and at the centre are no different from the NC-Congress coalition government in the State and the Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre. They are as insensitive as their predecessors. The reason: Chamel Singh was a Hindu from Jammu and his family, like all other non-Muslim families in the State, is considered a liability.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]H[/dropcap]ad Chamel Singh been a Muslim or a terrorist or a separatist or pro-Pakistan, his family would have been properly, adequately and immediately compensated and her children adjusted in the government service under the “healing touch policy” or the “return and rehabilitation policy”. The crime of Kamlesh Kumari and her children is that they belong to nationalist Jammu, which doesn’t allow New Delhi to compromise the Indian stand on Jammu & Kashmir. Kamlesh Kumari and her family members have to fend for themselves. It is unfortunate.
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