Satwant Singh Rissam
In my column last month, I highlighted how the sentiments of Dogra’s are being misused by a person to prosper in political field of Jammu. There are many similar issues (existing in other form) of the Jammu region about which I didn’t write in my earlier work. So I decided to highlight it in this column. Even after 70 years of independence, the Dogras of Jammu (Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs) are still facing an identity crisis. For the revival of this Dogra identity they had been promised moons and stars by many politicians till today. The result of this is that Dogras in past some decades have developed a sense of discrimination and injustice. Now they consider themselves as victims. This feeling of discrimination and injustice is not wrong because there are many issues and matters in which discrimination within regions is clearly visible. More so, it has now become a routine affair with political patronage of few. But I believe that this feeling of “victims” in Dogras came into being all because of lack of political will in Jammu region. As per my observation, this is the main fault line as lack of political will in Jammu region has led to suppression and discrimination. In addition to it, in these past years the aspirations of Jammu got totally overlooked and shadowed.
For me, Jammu and Kashmir is not an easy State to control, manage and rule and so is for the prevailing parties of Jammu and Kashmir State. Moreover, contributing to it is its different geography, climate, language and culture of regions. This debate of injustice done with Jammu region has given growth to forces of radical thought and fundamentalism in this part of the State. Earlier, this radical thought and fundamentalism was used only by some Kashmir based organisations against Jammu. Finally, this trend has erupted in Jammu as I see many people in social circles of Jammu are floating ideas that “it is time to find a permanent and long-lasting solution for Jammu & Kashmir”. They even go to extent of separating Jammu from Kashmir by forming Jammu as an independent state. Strangely, this sense is growing and there is urgency to deal with it. I am very sure that existence of our State is based on its unity and it should not be divided just on the basis of regional aspirations ever.
This regional divide has furthered a threat to identity and culture of Dogras. The presence of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis in Jammu region has created a negative thinking in Jammu region. An alarm is also raised by some people over growth of Muslim colonies surrounding Jammu city. Many people in Jammu city see this growth on religious lines and ask why only Jammu? Surprisingly, adding to this threat is the settlement of Rohingyas and Bangaladeshis in these above stated colonies. On this issue, Congress and BJP both are in war of words because a Congress leader is accused of settling them (rohingayas and bangaladeshis) and on the other hand BJP leaders (who had made several statements of evicting Rohingyas and Bangaladeshis) have taken no action against them in last more than four years. It is yet not too late to make amends to this problem and to instill confidence in Dogras. The prevailing administrative machinery should immediately carry out verification and identify all those who have illegally managed to enter our State. Once identified, such people should be deported from the State. This issue needs a clear cut approach in order to reduce the growing ill will within regions in the State. This is not all what is creating rift within State. The debate on Article 35A of the Indian Constitution has brought Jammu and Kashmir regions in an eye to eye position. Jammu is totally divided on this matter, as for some Article 35 A is more relevant than Kashmir and Ladakh. They apprehend that its repeal will lead to the economic deprivation and erosion of cultural identity of the Dogras. On the other, some people in Jammu claim that they are being discriminated and the removal of Article 35A will lead to their political empowerment. Whereas, whole people of Kashmir along with all political parties (forgetting political differences) are clear on this matter and are supporting Article 35A. I think that being liberal or illiberal on this issue won’t serve and before taking any action, it is important to understand whether the repeal of this Article will address differences within regions.
There are many in our State who intend to destabilise the secular and composite culture of our State. A different thought within region also prevails on the demand for declaring Maharaja Hari Singh’s Birth Anniversary as a State holiday in J&K. This matter is completely part of a silent aggression within regions. This too needs attention and should be addressed one way or other to end this aggression. Let me remind that many people in our State are not happy with holiday on ‘martyr’s day’ but we still have it. Similarly, when many don’t want holiday on Maharaja Hari Singh’s Birth Anniversary we still can have it. The bigger idea is to satisfy both the regions by having both holidays and for this every party has to think over and above their vote banks. I feel very few work and struggle to restore the regional balance in Jammu and Kashmir.
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