Will Jammu-based political parties and leaders rise and work for a lasting solution for issues facing Jammu province?
Fortunate are Kashmiri youths. They already occupy almost 3.80 lakh out of 4.5 lakh jobs in the government and semi-government establishments in J&K. Jammu youths occupy only about 70,000 jobs – 3.10 lakh less than Kashmir. And still, the Kashmiri leaders have unleashed a no-holds-barred campaign calculated to forcing the authorities at the Centre and in J&K to create more jobs for the Kashmiri youths. They have been seeking to create an impression that the unemployment problem in Kashmir has assumed alarming proportions.
Only on September 29, Farooq Abdullah’s National Conference (NC) said: “Thousands of educated young women and men in Kashmir are bearing the brunt of unemployment and are struggling to find jobs…The Valley has become a byword for widespread and inescapable poverty, unemployment, development deficit, and administrative inertia, and the ‘airdropped’ bureaucracy has failed to redress the issues of people.” Farooq Abdullah also said that Kashmiri youths were suffering because of the unemployment problem in the Valley.
The truth is that Jammu province has the highest number of unemployed youths and the recruitment agencies systematically ignore Jammu youths.
A day later, former The Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) Chief Saif-Ud-Din Soz expressed an identical view and urged the authorities to create more job avenues in Kashmir so that the unemployed Kashmiri youths were absorbed and the unemployment problem in Kashmir be tackled. An almost a similar statement was made by the Kashmir-based J&K Apni Party (JKAP).
What’s the population of Bihar and the number of government employees in that state? The population of Bihar is 9.9 crore and the number of employees 3.10 lakh. In other words, Bihar has 70,000 fewer employees than Kashmir. Kashmir houses only about 60 lakh people. What does it suggest? It suggests that Bihar, which houses a population of almost 16-time more than Kashmir, has less number of employees.
And what is the rate of unemployment in Kashmir and Jammu? The rate of unemployment in Kashmir is less than 30%. As for Jammu province, it is over 69%. Underline: Jammu province also houses an equal number of souls, if not more than Kashmir. Hold a fair census and you will find that the population of Jammu province is at least 8 to 10 lakh more as compared to Kashmir.
The truth is that Jammu province has the highest number of unemployed youths and the recruitment agencies systematically ignore Jammu youths. Take, for example, the just-released selection list of 98 drivers and 592 firemen. The list was released by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (F&ES) on October 3. According to the under-attack F&ES Department, “the list was based on the re-written test conducted on September 20, 2020.”
Full state status to Jammu province because it has nothing in common with Kashmir and that it’s highly rich in terms of water, green gold, minerals, weather, and fertile land and UT status to Kashmir because it can’t exist even for a day without the central assistance.
How many candidates were selected from Kashmir and Jammu? 453 candidates from Kashmir and only 231 from Jammu. The selection list provoked a sort of furore in Jammu province. Protests in Jammu did have some impact on the F&ES Department. On October 6, it issued a statement explaining its position. Mercifully, its statement rubbed more salt on the wound of the aggrieved candidates from Jammu province. It dismissed all the charges levelled against it. It justified the list. Not just that, it stated that Jammu province was preferred over Kashmir and that it was the candidates from Jammu province who walked away with more posts.
How did the F&ES justify 453 selections from Kashmir and only 231 from Jammu? It justified the discrimination with the candidates from Jammu by advancing a spurious argument. The argument was that the number of applicants from Kashmir was more as compared with the number of candidates from Jammu province and, hence, 453 selections from Kashmir and 231. What was highly ridiculous was its statement that “15% candidates were selected from Jammu province and only 9% of candidates were selected from Kashmir.”
Not just this, Kashmir is also preferred over Jammu province as far as the disbursement of Voluntary Service Allowance (VSA) in the state is concerned. The nature, magnitude, and level of discrimination with Jammu province could be gauged from the fact that the NC-Congress coalition government “disbursed a total of Rs 89.44 crore from April 2010 to December 31, 2013. Out of the total disbursement, Kashmir was given Rs 69.04 crore and Jammu province got only Rs 20.40 crore – more than three-time less than Kashmir. A total of 1.18 lakh youths were benefited in Kashmir and as for Jammu province, only 43.070 youths were considered for VSA – almost three-time less than Kashmir.”
The manner in which the J&K Government’s F&ES Department justified gross discrimination with Jammu province once again established that the people of Jammu province will not get its due share in the state’s polity and the economy as long as this region remained tagged with Kashmir. Opined earlier in these columns, opining again that there is but one way in which Jammu province could obtain justice and menace of secessionism limited to the valley and that is by giving full state status to Jammu province and UT status to Kashmir. Full state status to Jammu province because it has nothing in common with Kashmir and that it’s highly rich in terms of water, green gold, minerals, weather, and fertile land and UT status to Kashmir because it can’t exist even for a day without the central assistance.
Even otherwise, the separation of Jammu province from Kashmir has become imperative. It may appear laughable and silly but it’s a fact that the Farooq Abdullah-led Gupkaris in Kashmir would form the 9-member council of ministers, including CM, or it will be an all-Gupkar council of ministers as and when formed after elections. The J&K Reorganization Act, 2019 (Act No. 34 of 2019) says, “there shall be a council of ministers consisting of not more than 10% of the total number of members in the legislative assembly, with CM at the head to aid and advise the Lt Governor in the exercise of his functions…”
Since the new assembly would be a 90-member house, there would be only nine ministers, including CM. It doesn’t require rocket science to reach three conclusions:
- One, all the nine ministers will be from NC, PDP, Congress, People Conference, Awami National Conference, and CPI-M. All are part of the Gupkar group, which was formed on August 4, 2019, to fight for semi-sovereign status for J&K. The possibility of persons like former minister Hakeem Yasin also becoming part of the Gupkar government just could not be overruled.
- Two, all the ministers would be from Kashmir because of what former PM Manmohan Singh repeatedly said “compulsion of the coalition.” It would be extremely difficult for the leader of the Gupkar group to ignore the claim of any of its Kashmir-based constituents.
- Three, Jammu province will hardly have any minister in the new council of ministers for reasons not really difficult to fathom.
Will Jammu-based political parties and leaders of all hues rise to the occasion and work for a lasting solution to the issues facing Jammu province? They must not miss the bus. Will the Narendra Modi Government read the writing on the wall and free Jammu province from the clutches of Jihad-gripped Kashmir?
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.