Untying Jammu logjam

By K.N. Pandit

Nehru had denounced great nationalist movement of Praja Parishad.

Two-month old Jammu logjam appears to be coming to an end with New Delhi re-thinking its stand on land row.

Maybe New Delhi would have acted fast if Governor Vohra had not relayed the phlegmatic view of a senior Congress leader of Jammu that Jammu agitation would die down in two days.

What has sprung surprise is that a region engaged in a six-decades-old procrastinated but non-violent struggle against discrimination and deprivation has suddenly arisen to a massive mass movement that transcends religious, ethnic, linguistic and other divides.

Broad sections of national media have confirmed that Jammu movement is neither sponsored nor abetted by the rightist wing. Much did pseudo-secularists try to project it the handiwork of Hindu communalists but they had no evidence to prove their accusation. It is a mass movement of the discriminated, deprived and sidelined people of Duggar Desh as said by the leaders of Hindu, Muslim and Sikh members of the Sangarsh Samiti.

New Delhi seems to be relenting on land row, albeit after belatedly understanding the complexity of J&K situation.

A major achievement of the movement is not the re-allocation of land in Baltal to the Amarnath Shrine Board: it is beyond that.

The movement has exposed valley leadership of all hues, but in particular those claiming to be in the national mainstream. It has made New Delhi review J&K situation from a more realistic standpoint.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Jammu movement has liberated the people from six long decades of embedded inertia, which had set in following Nehru’s denunciation of the mass movement of Praja Parishad in early 1950. That fiercely nationalist movement had protested against granting of special status to the J&K, and the incorporation of Article 370 in the Indian Constitution. Nehru had spoken irresponsibly in a public meeting in Jammu because the Sheikh had threatened to secede if Jammu-based Praja Parishad movement paralleled his organization and his movement. And Nehru was a “secular democrat”.

Ever since, Congress governments at the centre consigned Jammu to back yard. Now the on-going movement has retrieved Jammu from oblivion.

But this is the beginning of a still–to-come long struggle that will seek an end to discrimination of Jammu region, its liberation from Srinagar dominance, its rightful representation in all three organs of the state and its autonomous development mechanism.

Of immediate importance is the question of delimitation. Jammu region complains of being numerically under-represented in the law making, law enforcing, and law administering bodies.

These are vital issues and cannot put under the wraps of Baltal land issue resolution.

Not only New Delhi but valley leadership, too, has to understand the strategic importance and sensitivity of Jammu. This is a region of far more dependable stability in terms of social security, national integrity and territorial sovereignty. The Muslims of Jammu region refused to march towards PoK unlike those in the valley. They stuck to Sangarsh Samiti, the organization that has consolidated resistance to majoritarian hegemony of Srinagar regimes.

If peace process is to be stabilized in J&K following re-allocation of land at Baltal to the Amarnath Shrine Board, New Delhi should immediately remove Governor Vohra because re-allocation of land will be big question mark on his competence to govern J&K. Moreover, this perception should be applicable to the Union Home Minister also.

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

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