Prof Hari Om Things in the erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir State changed and changed in a dramatic manner on August 6, 2019. That historic day, the Narendra Modi Government, backed to the hilt by the Indian Parliament, handed down to the nation two magnificent gifts. One was the epoch-making Presidential notification that threw obnoxious Articles 370 and 35A into dustbin and integrated Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh into India 100%. The other was the path-breaking Reorganization of Jammu & Kashmir Bill that removed from the political map of India the State of Jammu & Kashmir and gave to the nation two Union Territories – UT of Jammu & Kashmir and UT of Ladakh. Ever since then, the grateful nation has been hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. And why not? After all, that day, they established that nothing was impossible in this world. Not just this. That day, they also told the international community that there was no place for separatists and half-separatists in the Indian scheme of things. In addition, they also send a clear message to Pakistan and China that Indian writ alone will run in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and that India could go to any extent to protect and promote its sovereign interests. What is the current situation in the UT of Jammu & Kashmir and UT of Ladakh? Things in Kashmir are improving with each passing day. The Valley is by and large calm. Separatists and half-separatists in Kashmir are in a state of shock. It was expected. Most of them, including three former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Ministers, have been put under house arrest. Some of them have been put behind bars outside Kashmir. The message from New Delhi is loud and clear: Respect the institution of the Indian State, eschew politics of separatism and discard the cult of stone-throwing failing which the state would act. One can only hope and pray that good sense would finally prevail and all in Kashmir will appreciate the decision of the Prime Minister and Home Minister to bring them under the ambit of the Indian Constitution or bring them at par with the rest of the Indians. The sooner they appreciate the emerging situation, better for them and the tiny Kashmir Valley. They would do well not to walk into the mischievous trap of rabble-rousers like Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad who continue to urge the Prime Minister to undo what his government did on August 5 and 6. He and ilk, who are flirting with Bharat Tere Tukde Honge gang, are only trying to hoodwink and mislead the common Kashmiri Muslims and achieve the unachievable. They are living in a fool’s paradise. PM Narendra Modi and HM Amit Shah are not going to oblige the votaries of separate status for Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh on the score of religion. As for the people of the UT of Ladakh, they have been pulsating with renewed vigour. They are celebrating their new status within the Indian Union. Leave aside a few disgruntled elements here and there in the Shia-majority Kargil town. The people of Ladakh are happy because they finally achieved their most-cherished goal on August 6. The people of Ladakh were for separation of their region from day one. And the great leader who was in the forefront of the struggle for independence from Kashmir was none other than Head Lama of Ladakh, Koshak Bakula. He had even suggested that Ladakh be either made part of Jammu or Himachal Pradesh, but with no result. Such was the nature of the movement in Ladakh for separation from Kashmir that all political players in the Leh region worked in unison for decades. JL Nehru disappointed the Ladakhis. The story of the people in Jammu region is no different. They, like the people of Ladakh and unlike a handful of Kashmiri agents in the Congress, the National Conference and the People’s Democratic Party, continue to be in celebration mode. They are giving unflinching support to the Prime Minister and the Home Minister and describing the revocation of Articles 370 and 35A and Reorganization of Jammu & Kashmir Bill as their masterstroke. At the same time, however, many in Jammu are urging the Prime Minister and the Home Minister Amit Shah to separate Jammu from Kashmir and confer on the region the status of the statehood. Their view is that Jammu’s demand for statehood was as old as that of demand in Ladakh for UT. They are right. The Panthers Party, the Dogra Sadar Sabha, the Ikkjutt Jammu, the newly-founded All Jammu Civil Society Forum (AJCSF) are all demanding status of statehood for Jammu. The most remarkable aspect of the whole situation as it exists today in Jammu is that a number of former Congress ministers have also taken the plunge and started demanding separation of Jammu from Kashmir, saying that if the identity of Jammu province and its Dogra heritage were to be protected and promoted, Jammu has to be given the status of statehood. Then, there are certain groups in Jammu which are urging the powers that be in New Delhi to set up a fully-empowered regional council so that the people of Jammu manage their own affairs themselves in a meaningful manner. The general consensus in Jammu is that separation of Jammu from Kashmir is the only lasting solution to the age-old woes of the people of the region. It would not be out of place to mention here that the BJP and the RSS had also in the past favored separation of Jammu and Ladakh from Kashmir. While the BJP adopted at least 4 resolutions on reorganization of Jammu & Kashmir State, the RSS adopted one at Kurukshetra in 2002. So much so, the RSS founded Jammu State Morcha (JSM) in Jammu the same year, which contested the 2002 assembly elections. It is a different story that both the RSS and the BJP subsequently abandoned the idea of reorganization of Jammu & Kashmir State. All in all, it can be said that the revocation of Article 370 and Article 35A and creation of UTs of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh have inspired many in Jammu to work for statehood. Even otherwise, creation of Jammu State is in the larger national interest as it has all the potential of hurting the separatists in Kashmir and helping New Delhi defeat Jihad in an effective manner. But more than that, creation of separate Jammu State will help defeat the evil game-plan of those in Pakistan and Kashmir who have been changing Jammu’s demography since 1996 to create Kashmir-like situation in this strategic region.
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