The only panacea available to end the Jammu & Kashmir ’s long night of discontent and despair
Significant political developments took place in Jammu during the 4-day visit of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to Jammu & Kashmir, between September 9 and 12. I am skipping the developments relating to nasty, discriminatory, anti-Indian and divisive Article 35-A and the Rohingya issue, which has become an international issue in the wake of the ethic strife in Myanmar, once part of undivided India. I have written extensively on both these issues in these columns.
I am focusing only on developments which suggest that the disintegration of Jammu & Kashmir, which came into being by a quirk of history in March 1846, is now almost certain. All or nearly all the delegations, which met with Union Home Minister in Jammu on September 11 and 12 denounced the ruling BJP — once considered a champion of the Jammu’s cause in general and Jammu Hindus’ cause in particular – and urged them to reorganise Jammu & Kashmir’s politico-constitutional structure to meet the age-old aspirations of the socially and economically neglected and politically marginalised people of the highly strategic Jammu province and the Trans-Himalayan Ladakh region. All the delegations tore into the BJP, accused it of letting down Jammu and Ladakh, dancing to the tunes of the (pro-separatist and pro-Pakistan) Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and perpetrating on Jammu injustice after injustice.
Since 1947 Kashmir has been at the helm of affairs and exploiting the people of Jammu province to the hilt.
The Jammu & Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP), the Congress and the National Conference (NC), in one voice, told the visiting Home Minister that the time for the reorganisation of the state’s 60-year-old economic, political, administrative and constitutional structure had come to end inter-regional tensions and animosities and make each region a master of its own destiny within India.
The JKNPP straightaway demanded statehood for Jammu, saying separation of Jammu province from Kashmir — which had been at the helm of affairs and exploiting the people of Jammu province to the hilt since 1947 – was the only panacea available to end the Jammu’s long night of discontent and despair.
The Congress, which ruled Jammu & Kashmir for years either on its own strength or in alliance with the NC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and was instrumental in the all-round degeneration and destruction of Jammu and Ladakh, asked the Union Home Minister to grant regional autonomy to Jammu province as well as Ladakh region.
BJP has been failing in its delivery on slogans of equality, equitable development and equal treatment in the political, economic and other spheres of life.
“The mistrust, gap and regional imbalance on various fronts have widened between the regions and BJP have been failing in its delivery on slogans of equality, equitable development and equal treatment in the political, economic and other spheres of life. There is a growing discontent among the people of Jammu region over the role and failures of the BJP while in power, especially on issues and commitments while in opposition. The discrimination in recruitments and allocations of posts to the region even to the level of SPOs has been a cause of concern,” the Congress delegation told Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
The delegation suggested devolution and decentralization of powers and evolving a constitutional mechanism to fully guarantee equitable share and treatment to all the three regions, Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh.
“There is no other solution except setting up a regional council for Jammu to end discrimination,” the Congress delegation said.
The NC pitched for regional autonomy to Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh, saying “it is a way forward to satiate aspirations of the people in three distinct regions of the state.”
“We strongly believe that autonomy to the state and regional autonomy to the three regions with autonomous administrative structures for sub-regions on the pattern of Ladakh Hill Development Councils can defeat nefarious designs of the forces, who want trifurcation of the state for their petty political interests,” the NC delegation said during its 40-minute interactive session with the Union Home Minister.
The people of Jammu and Ladakh are opposed to the idea of the state getting the kind of autonomy the NC has been striving to achieve for decades.
Notwithstanding its sinister suggestion that autonomy (read semi-independent status or limited accession), should be granted to the state, the NC’s insistence on regional autonomy to all the three regions was an admission that the existing politico-constitutional and administrative regime in Jammu & Kashmir had failed and that the archaic system, if not changed, would lead to the state’s trifurcation into Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh states.
It needs to be underlined that the people of Jammu and Ladakh are opposed to the idea of the state getting the kind of autonomy the NC has been striving to achieve for decades. They believe, and rightly so, that the fate of the non-Muslim minorities in the state, including Hindus, Buddhists, and Sikhs, would be no different from the fate of the non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan under the regime the NC is struggling to achieve.
Earlier on January 7, 2017, Jammu & Kashmir BJP spokesman Prof Varinder Gupta had demanded regional autonomous councils for Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh to end “discrimination” with Jammu.
“There is a need for the creation of regional autonomous councils for all three regions of the state, and empowering the councils with legislative, administrative and financial powers,” he had said while denouncing the PDP-BJP government’s discriminatory policies against the people of Jammu province and Ladakh region.
Now that all the political parties have come on the same page and demanded the reorganization of the state policy, it is the most appropriate time for the Narendra Modi Government to appreciate the ground realities as they exist in the state’s three distinct regions. It would do well to start with announcing three fully empowered regional councils, one each for Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh. Besides, the Narendra Modi Government must consider the 36-year-old demand of the internally-displaced Kashmiri Hindus seeking the establishment of a separate homeland within the Valley, invested with Union Territory status. Such a gesture on the part of the Union Government will, on the one hand, strengthen nationalist constituency in all the three regions and on the other, break the backbone of Kashmiri jihadis.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.