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The other side of J&K imbroglio

The other side of J&K imbroglio

Author: Mitu Singh
Publication: Meri News
Date: August 7, 2008

The turmoil in Jammu has not been pacified yet. Widespread protests, police and army action have worsened life. Beyond the contentious Amarnath land row, ideological mutations among people of J&K are equally responsible for the entire fuss.

Has anyone wondered how a piece of land can cause so much unrest amongst the otherwise peace-loving population of Jammu, so much so that despite efforts to suppress the movement, it refuses to die down. Is it only about the controversial piece of land (pertaining to Amarnath)? No, it is not. It is an example of a revolution that takes place when the elasticity and flexibility of society to accept discrimination and exploitation is stretched to its limit over a period of time. Since India's Independence in 1947, people of Jammu have been meted out stepmotherly treatment and discriminated in day-to-day life and also major policy decisions by all the state governments that came and went.

People of Jammu are docile and patriotic with most of them serving the armed forces and other security agencies. Jammu boasts of producing many brave sons of the soil who have laid down their lives for the motherland in past and will continue to do so. The love for the Indian tricolour flag and spirit of India is always visible amongst them. Even the protestors involved in the present Amarnath land row carry the tricolour flag on their shoulders with pride and love. The spirit of patriotism can be seen in Jammu when India wins a cricket match against Pakistan. People are out on streets with the Indian flag and burst firecrackers with joy.

On the contrary what happens in Kashmir? It is exactly opposite if Pakistan wins a cricket match. It is the Pakistani flags, which are flaunted on streets, crackers bursting all over and the happiness can't be concealed. Over all these years since Independence, the people of Jammu have loved their nation and people of Kashmir have been demanding Azad Kashmir (independent state) siding fully with a pro-Pakistan stand.

India can figure out what will be the outcome if a plebiscite is held in Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmiris would go with Pakistan without any doubt and people of Jammu will always stand by India.

I ask, when the majority Kashmiris have separatist feelings, why are the people of Jammu always suppressed and only the voice of Kashmiris and their parties like People's Democratic Party (PDP) and National Conference are heard, even in Delhi. Why don't the people of Jammu really matter and their voice is not heard even when they shout and on the contrary, even a whisper of Kashmiris is heard without any fail?

In the present land row, this was visible. It just took three days of protesting by Kashmiri people to get the order for land transfer reverted and here on the other hand it has been more than a month and even after a loss of seven lives the voice of Jammuites is not heard. It was only yesterday that the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for a meeting of all parties on this issue after aggravation of the crisis. But still, the reason is not Jammu, it is Kashmir again because the so-called economic blockade of Kashmir valley has taken place and even essential drugs are not reaching the Valley.

Kashmiris have even threatened to open the Muzzaffarabad axis if the road to Kashmir is not opened. They have no problems with Pakistan, they seemingly regard it their land. I ask, can people of any other region or state of India even think on these lines?

It is not that people of Jammu believe in regionalism, they have been forced to speak out because of suppression and regional discrimination at the hands of Kashmir-based leaders and state government could not be taken any longer. The elastic has been stretched too much and it was made to break….

People of Jammu do not believe in fanaticism of any kind and it is visible from the fact that despite such strong sentiments and emotions having run high when Amarnath pilgrims were beaten and even killed in Kashmir recently, there was no religion-based rioting! The fact is that it is not even a political issue and no political party really matters for an average Jammuite, it is a people's movement where the people of Jammu stand united for the first time since Independence and they have raised their voice as a community. These people will not be pacified and cannot be silenced till their demands for equality are met.

One has to understand that it is not about the land only. Land is the issue that got people together. But, there are so many issues that need to be addressed. Take for example the Article 370. People of Jammu have been demanding removal of this Article for so many years. If Jammu and Kashmir is part of India, why the people from other states of India cannot come and buy property in J&K and settle down here? I am sure that this question must have crossed minds of so many Indians. What is the relevance of this Article in our free and democratic nation? Should it be there at all? By still continuing with this Article in J&K are we not accepting that it is not an integral part of India? If that is so, why waste so many valuable lives of our men in uniform in Kashmir. The struggle for removal of this Article has been continuing for many years now in Jammu; many political parties have come and gone. None of the political parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), tried doing anything about it even when they were in power although initially they had gone to the voter with this issue before elections.

I hope this issue of Amarnath land will be resolved peacefully without losing any more human lives. I just hope the people who matter understand these undercurrents and do something about them rather than wishing them away. There are too many issues and unanswered questions when it comes to Jammu and Kashmir.

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