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September 12, 2000


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E-Mail this column to a friend Arvind Lavakare

It could finally be Jammu Vs Kashmir!

There is an old belief that from evil comes good. Well, the diabolical J&K autonomy report certainly seems to have reawakened the yearning of Jammu and Ladakh regions to free themselves from what they have long perceived as the tyranny of the Valley-based Kashmiris who occupy just six per cent of the state's territory but live off the resources of the whole.

A talk the other day with a Srinagar-based Sangh Parivar functionary visiting Mumbai indicated that a movement for Jammu and Ladakh's separation from the Valley is now taking shape and gaining strength. It is slow as yet but come October, there may well be some sort of a convention that will signal the action for a divorce suit.

If that happens, it will only be a revival of what was started half a century ago by Nehru's ministerial colleague, Dr Shyama Prasad Mookerjee. The Bengal tiger had staked his life to (i) secure the integration of J&K with the rest of India and ii save the Dogras of Jammu from Sheikh Abdullah's actions that were reportedly described by a former central intelligence chief as a bid at ethnic cleansing.

In a speech at Kanpur on December 29, 1952, Dr Mookerjee had made the grave charge that, "Mr Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah have jointly decided to carry on a ruthless policy of repression in Jammu." He had referred to "an impression gaining ground that with our blood and money we are carving out a virtually autonomous state for Sheikh Abdullah." Therefore, he proclaimed, "Jammu and Ladakh must be fully integrated with India according to the wishes of their people."

Dr Mookerjee categorically stated that while he did not want the partition of J&K, it had become a matter of Hobson's Choice: Kashmir Valley could be made a separate state with all necessary subventions desired by the Sheikh and his advisers, but Jammu and Ladakh must not be sacrificed.

Dr Mookerjee died on June 23, 1953, under suspicious circumstances while under house arrest in an abandoned cottage on a hill outside Srinagar, with no telephone or medical facility within miles, without Nehru meeting him there even once during his 40-day detention. His soul must surely be astir now with talk gaining ground about the revived call for a separate Jammu and a separate Ladakh.

Contrary to "secular" allegations, this separatist drive is not based on the Hindu-Muslim divide. Instead, it is entirely based on the economic deprivation and political despotism exercised by the Abdullah clan, kith and kin from Srinagar.

The charges against the Kashmiri clique are many. Writing in the May 2000 issue of Voice of Jammu Kashmir magazine, J N Bhat, retired judge of the J&K high court, alleged that: 1.Thousands of plots carved out in the suburbs of Jammu have been allotted to Kashmiris, all the beneficiaries belonging to one particular community.

2. In some localities of Jammu city, water is supplied after a gap of three to four days, and not even enough of it to quench the thirst of the people. Obviously, funds got for development get misused.

3. In the Jammu region, the Hindu minorities of Doda and Poonch districts have been tortured and many of them have found, according to sources, conversion the only option, though they prefer death to forced conversion.

Another eminent person who has made more serious accusations is Hari Om, professor of history in Jammu University, and a member of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR). In a recent newspaper article, the professor complains that:

1.Though Kashmiris constitute roughly 22 per cent of the state's total population, the mechanism cleverly devised by Sheikh Abdullah's National Conference Party in 1951 enables it to capture nearly half of the total assembly and Lok Sabha seats. The trick lies in 46 assembly segments having been created in the small Valley as against 41 segments combined in Jammu and Ladakh regions that are far bigger and more populated than the Valley. This mechanism is apparently contrary to the rules framed under the Indian Parliament's Representation of People's Act and those under the relevant State Act of 1957.

2. Kashmiris hold over 2,30,000 positions out of a nearly 2,40,000 positions in government and semi-government organisations in the Valley. In addition, they corner nearly 25 per cent of the jobs in the regional services of Jammu and Ladakh.

3. All the professional and technical institutions, universities and all the big public sector industrial units like HMT, the television, telephone and cement factories located in the Valley are the sole preserve of the Kashmiris. Besides, they manipulate for themselves more than 50 per cent of the seats in Jammu's ill-equipped and under-staffed medical and engineering college and in the Agricultural University in R S Pura. No such institution exists in Ladakh.

4.The Kashmiris control trade, commerce, transport and industry, and own big orchards as well as landed estates. None of them is without a house. Likewise, the per capita expenditure on woollen clothes in Kashmir is perhaps the highest in the world. Till date, no one in Kashmir has, unlike in UP, Bihar and Orissa, died either of hunger or cold.

5. Interestingly, yet not surprisingly, a vast majority of the Kashmiris don't pay even a single penny to the state in the form of revenue due to it. It is Jammu and Ladakh that contribute over 90 per cent to the state exchequer, but a major part of this money is spent not in the extremely backward and underdeveloped Jammu and Ladakh but in the highly prosperous and developed Kashmir Valley.

As a result of the above, professor Hari Om says, "It is Kashmiris and Kashmiris everywhere and all others in the state exist nowhere."

The dismal scenario above has apparently prevailed for so long that even editors of our national daily newspapers refer most casually to J&K merely as "Kashmir", forgetting the fundamental fact that "J&K" is not Kashmir and that "Kashmir" is not J&K.

Sheikh Abdullah and his National Conference cabal created that scenario with the connivance of Nehru and his Congress dynasty. Today, it has all become perpetuated because Pakistan's cross border terrorism has struck New Delhi with cowardice, denying them the courage to fight against the Kashmiriyat clan for the rights of the meek and the oppressed.

The coming months will show whether the humble folks -- the Jammuites, the Ladakhis, the Shiite Muslims, the Gujjar and Bakerwal Muslims, the Darad and Balti Muslims, the Kashmiri Hindus, the Christians and the Sikhs -- have finally mustered the willpower to take on the might of the Abdullahs, the Yasins, the Geelanis, the Bhats, the Shahs, the Lones, the Dars, the Salahuddins, the Qureshis, the Omar Farooqs, the Muftis and others of their ilk.

If Jammu's old political outfit, the Praja Parishad Party, can take re-birth as it were and join hands with the Ladakhis, Buddhists and all; if the Sangh Parivar can for once play its cards soberly; if the trinity can employ widespread factual communication and peaceful, sustained agitation as their brahmastra, the nation could soon witness a David Vs Goliath armageddon close enough yet far away from General Musharraf's mad jihadis.

Arvind Lavakare

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