Don’t let down Jammu

By K.N. Pandita

Nobody in Jammu expected the near – farcical All Party Meeting to resolve the logjam. Government’s dubious intentions reflecting in its selective invitations naturally boded its failure. If the agitating Sangharsh Samiti was kept out because it would expose many sinister machinations of the administration run by an unpopular Governor, denial of entry of two Congress MPs from Jammu to PM’s All Party meet was equally insidious. Why was not Panthers Party invited? The design was to ensure that anti-Jammu rant of valley-based ambivalent leadership went without a challenge or a counter argument.

The focus of the agitating public of Jammu region is equally on their elected MPs and MLAs. The role of these representatives in ongoing agitation, particularly of 11 MLAs and 2 MPs of Congress has been dismal. For last one month of the agitation, they neither came out openly in support of the political movement nor tried to reach their constituencies to streamline their response by selling Congress prescription. Congress leadership should be ashamed of requesting BJP leader L.K. Advani to help douse the flames of turmoil in Jammu.

Jammu region has just one BJP MLA. While he threw his lot with the political movement, the Congress and NC MLAs played safe by hiding somewhere in the town and sealing their lips. Insensitive to the discrimination against Jammu, they have been trying to place their self – interests above national interests.

As the milling crowds defied curfew at many places and shouted “ Bharat Mata ki Jai, Indian Army ki Jai, Tiranga ki Jai”, soldiers armed with automatic guns deployed to enforce curfew, raised their hands in acknowledgement. A new phenomenon of nationalism met the eyes and ears of our soldiers. Of course, this is “Hindu communalism” to valley leaders and their sympathizers among PM’s All Party Meeting.

PDP and NC leaders, who though bitter political rivals on the field, joined hands to incite anti-India feelings among religiously inflammable population of the valley. Having met with a backlash in Jammu, they now look for a cover to hide their sinister designs and win legitimacy of their stand. Congress-led government has its compulsions to surrender to their ranting. After all, both of them voted in favour of Congress in the trust vote session of the parliament. Congress has the compulsion of not relieving Governor Vohra despite his widespread unpopularity in Jammu just because in his appointment Mufti-Gilani nexus played supportive role.

A great responsibility lies on the shoulders of the elected representatives of Jammu region. This is a critical moment for the future history of the State. The elected representatives have to do one of the two things: either support the agitation and resign or support the communal and parochi8al forces in the State and be doomed. They have to make a choice. The people of Jammu will not let them down Jammu any more. If Kashmir is the land of Omar Abdullah and his people, whose land is Jammu?

The MLAs and MPs should answer this question. If Amarnath Shrine cannot be given land on rent for temporary use in Kashmir, how will these elected representatives tolerate giving forest land free of cost and rent to Ghulam Shah Badshah University in Rajouri? Why double standards? If forest land is given to Mata Vaishno Devi Trust University against inflated cost, should the MLAs remain content with Kashmiri Muslims including Farooq Abdullah coming all the way from Kashmir and grabbing the state forest land at Bhatindi without paying any cost or rent?

Lastly, the people of Jammu have realized the power and strength in unity. Their discrimination and deprivation will not cease unless they struggle for its caesurae. Jammu has qualified for statehood. It is a step towards solution of Kashmir tangle. Now or never, is the clarion call of the time.

(The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir university).

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