Sunday, July 01, 2012

Unity, integrity of Jammu Pradesh under threat (NEHA )


JAMMU, June 28: Unity and integrity of the ancient Jammu Pradesh is under grave threat. A number of anti-Jammu elements have intensified to break-Jammu Pradesh activities with a view to ensuring its partition along the Chenab River on purely communal lines. It is not only that the anti-Jammu Pradesh elements are focusing their attention on the erstwhile Doda district, which is being termed by these elements as “Chenab Valley”. The police administration under former Director General of Police, Kuldip Khoda had also termed this highly mountainous area as “Chenab Valley region” overlooking the fact that there is no such Valley anywhere in Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban districts, or for that matter anywhere in Jammu Pradesh. There are also elements who are focusing on the Muslim-majority Poonch and Rajouri districts. They are terming these hilly and mountainous areas as “Pirpanjal region” and demanding a separate dispensation for the Poonch-Rajouri area of Jammu Pradesh. Similar demand is being made by those who have been terming Doda, Ramban and Kishtwar districts as “Chenab Valley region”.

The most striking aspect of the whole campaign unleashed by the votaries of separate dispensations from the so-called Chenab Valley and Pir Panjal regions is that they are not pin-pointing the causes responsible for the neglect of these areas. They are simply reflecting on the problems of the people of these hilly and mountainous areas of Jammu Pradesh. They have not even once said that it is the state government and the Cabinet Ministers who head the District Development Boards in these five districts who are responsible for the neglect and backwardness of these areas. The District Development boards consist of the local legislators, including Member of Parliament, and the concerned officials and their meetings are chaired by the Cabinet Ministers. These District Development Boards formulate and approve developmental plans after taking into account the needs and requirements of the people and the districts. Yet another striking aspect of the campaign unleashed by those crying for justice for the people of these areas is that they have nothing whatsoever in their scheme of things for the equally neglected people of Kathua district, Samba district, Udhampur district, Reasi district, and even parts of Jammu district. It is not difficult to understand the reasons behind their selective approach.

Only the other day a Kashmir-based party charged one of its senior leaders with the responsibility of “preparing a charter of demands, especially for the residents of the Chenab Valley” and declared that “if required, (the party) would bring to the notice of Prime Minister and union power minister the plight of the people of Chenab Valley”. At the same time, the party maintained that “the concept of District Development Board (DDB) which was started by late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was sabotaged by the present dispensation” and that “instead of involving elected representatives in the development activities, the present government has been adopting pick and choose policy in releasing additionalities”.

The charge levelled by this party against the present government does establish that it knows what ails the hilly and mountainous areas of Jammu Pradesh. It admits that the constitution of District Development Boards was a positive development. It also acknowledges that it is the present dispensation which has been discriminating between district and district, but it continues to adopt a selective approach, thus creating schism between the people and districts of Jammu Pradesh. They use different terminology for Kashmir. In Kashmir, they describe different areas as North Kashmir, South Kashmir and Central Kashmir. They do not, for example, term Kupwara and Baramulla as a region, despite the fact that the bulk of population of this region is ethnically non-Kashmiri. But as far Jammu Pradesh is concerned, they divide it into regions and sub-regions on purely religious and sectarian grounds.

They are playing with fire. They should remember that the Muslim and Hindu population in the four districts of Rajouri, Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban is almost evenly balanced. Poonch is the only district where the proportion of Muslims and non-Muslims is approximately 83:17. They should also remember that the people of Jammu Pradesh are committed to preserving the unity and integrity of their Pradesh. It would be better if the so-called well-wishers of the hilly and mountainous areas of Jammu Pradesh start highlighting the problems of their Pradesh as a whole. Not to do so would be only to create a volcanic situation in the otherwise peaceful and secular Pradesh.

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