Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Uprising in Jammu - 1

Uprising in Jammu - Part 1

The mass movement of the people of Jammu province against the state government's failure to stick to its own decision is gaining strength with each passing day. It is already over a month and a half since it started as a minor protest against withdrawal of a government order allotting some land to a religious body of Hindus ostensibly under pressure from the separatist elements in the Valley.

How this all started:

It came about, in fact, as a result of the one-upmanship game between two coalition partners; the Congress and the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP). Congress party as per the coalition arrangement was heading the government in the latter half of its tenure and PDP was feeling much uncomfortable. With elections in the offing, Congress tried to score some brownie points. About one hundred acres of land was allotted to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB). It was a cabinet decision but when PDP bosses woke up the next morning they assumed that the Congress party had already pocketed the Hindu votes with this single stroke. Worse, two of their own party men who were the concerned ministers, had signed the final clearance which paved the way for the decision. Desperate and with nothing to hold onto, the PDP bosses resorted to the usual and time tested tactics of 'danger to the special status by changing the demographic character of J&K' - a laughable proposition for the sane but not for the hot-headed intolerants. It worked. The valley rose in protest against land allotment to a Hindu body. The PDP withdrew from the ruling coalition and the government fell. But before its fall the government losing its nerve had already withdrawn the allotment order.

It would be appropriate to state here that the said land transfer order was about leasing out the land for two months for erecting temporary shelters and did not involve any transfer of ownership.

Naturally, as a sentimental reaction, people of Jammu too came out to protest. That is the story.

The Grave Situation:

As is wont in India, we have political pundits, journalists, sociologists and many more who jumped into analyzing the situation, coming up with stereotyped rhetoric that it was a ploy of communal forces to seize momentum in the wake of forthcoming elections to the state legislature. This argument appears far removed from reality. Jammu was never communal. How many today remember that more than two decades back when under the separatist threats and acts of ethnic cleansing by the Islamic terrorists, there was mass exodus of people from the Valley, the people of Jammu had opened their arms to welcome them? And the migrants were not only Hindus, there were Muslims too. There is enough evidence to vouch for that. Talking of communalism in Jammu is just rubbish.

In the mean time the situation is turning nastier with every passing hour. The Central government didn't consider it appropriate to take notice, leave alone interfere, till about the 35th day of protests and loss of some precious lives. It was known to all in Kashmir as well as New Delhi that Jammuites have never had the stamina to hold on that longer. New Delhi always feared unrests in Kashmir valley. They had no inkling of it that this time it was a different and resurgent Jammu.

However, the situation has already turned into 'do or die' for the two regions of the state. It has become an identity issue. If not handled quickly it could further aggravate into a full blown religious war between people of Jammu and Kashmir regions.

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