People of Jammu have suffered immense socio-economic, cultural and political losses
Some politicians in Jammu, including National Conference (NC) provincial president Devender Rana, have been toying with the idea of people of this province coming out with what they call the “Jammu Declaration”. The idea should not be brushed aside. It could be considered and given a concrete shape. After all, the people of Jammu province have suffered immense socio-economic, cultural and political losses during all these years of independence.
It was the chivalrous people of Jammu province, called Dogras, who established the mighty Dogra Kingdom consisting of Jammu province, Kashmir and the whole of Ladakh at a time when other princely states in the country were falling before canny imperialist Britain like the house of cards. The Dogras scored splendid victories on the battlefields and history recognizes them. What did they get after the state’s accession to India in 1947? They got slavery. Kashmir, which had been well-governed by Jammu for 101 years between 1847 and 1947, became the master and Jammu and Ladakh her colonies.
It was the people of Jammu province who paid revenue to the state exchequer to the tune of 70% to 80% but in return got only crumbs.
Jammu province, which housed more population than Kashmir and had land area two-time that of Kashmir, was excluded from the Civil Secretariat, J&K Government, J&K Legislature, job sector, technical and professional institutions for all practical purposes with Kashmir very tightly controlling all the portfolios with political weight, substantial funds and patronage. It happened because Kashmir was given in 1951 excessive and preponderant share of representation in the J&K assembly, which decided questions of supreme importance to the happiness and wellbeing of the people. The people of Jammu province cried day after day, month after month and year after year, but with no result. Instead, they were dubbed “communal”, “anti-Kashmir”, “reactionary”, “backward-looking” and what not by the ruling elite in Kashmir and its supporters elsewhere. Even New Delhi thought it politically prudent to give preferential and differential treatment to Kashmir.
It was the people of Jammu province who paid revenue to the state exchequer to the tune of 70% to 80% but in return got only crumbs. Tourism potential was not exploited to enrich the economy of Jammu province bulk of which is salubrious and which has beautiful dales, vales, meadows and waterfalls. On the contrary, the province’s green gold and other precious natural resources were looted on an unprecedented scale. The story of the road network, bridges, irrigation, educational and healthcare facilities, industrial development and agriculture is no different. All these sectors were willfully ignored.
Not content with all this, concerted attempts were made to change the Hindu-majority character of Kathua, Samba, Jammu, Udhampur and Rajouri districts. Lakhs and lakhs of kanal of state and forest lands were allowed to be looted, particularly after 2001 through the obnoxious Roshni Act. The objective was to change the demography of the province. So much so, the J&K Government would direct the police and revenue authorities in February 2018 to allow a certain category of people to occupy the state and forest land, especially in Kathua, Samba, Jammu and Udhampur districts. The objective was the same: Create a Kashmir-like situation in Jammu province so that a situation was created similar to one under which the minuscule minority of Kashmiri Hindus had become refugees in their own country in January 1990.
But this was not all. If on the one hand, Jammu province was rigorously and systematically excluded from all walks of life and exploited to the hilt and its demography was ruthlessly changed, on the other, the anti-Jammu elements also sought to erode the distinct and age-old identity of Jammu province. They sought to trifurcate Jammu province into the plains of Jammu, non-existent Chenab Valley and non-existent Pir Panjal Valley. The objective was to de-link the mighty Pir Panjal Mountain from Jammu and create “Greater Kashmir”. Earlier in 1948, the Hindu-majority Udhampur district had been divided to create a Muslim-majority Doda district.
These must be some of the fundamental and non-negotiable features of the Jammu Declaration the said Jammu politicians are talking about.
But these constitute only a few of the several such instances which serve to indicate the extent to which Jammu province and the people it housed were harmed using legislative and administrative routes. It’s a different story that vested interests in Jammu province kept their mouth shut and flirted with their masters in Kashmir for the sake of personal power and profit.
It needs to be noted that some people have started talking about the “Jammu Declaration”. What should be the fundamental features of the Jammu Declaration? The six points are as follows:
- It must declare that the J&K State as it existed on March 16, 1846, is an integral part of India and that Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh were, are and shall ever remain integral parts of India.
- It must reject with contempt the “Gupkar Declaration” that describes J&K as a disputed territory, wants restoration of the atrocious Articles 35A and 370, a merger of Ladakh with Kashmir and full state status to the UT of J&K and that also seeks semi-independent status for J&K.
- It must seek separation of Jammu province from Kashmir as well as full state status for Jammu province.
- It must reject outright those who term Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban “Chenab Valley” and Poonch and Rajouri district Pir Panjal Valley”.
- It must declare that all the government and semi-government jobs available in Jammu province and all the seats available in the universities and technical and professional institutions located in Jammu province shall be the sole preserve of the people of Jammu province.
- It must declare that the people of Jammu province have not given power of attorney to anyone in Kashmir and that they are the master in their own house under the Indian Constitution.
These must be some of the fundamental and non-negotiable features of the Jammu Declaration the said Jammu politicians are talking about. Nothing less nothing more. If the people of Jammu province wish to survive and lead a dignified life, they have no other option but to stop hobnobbing with the Gupkaris in any form and at any level. They can’t talk about the ignored Jammu province and Farooq Abdullah-led anti-Jammu and anti-national Gupkaris at the same time.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.