Dr Hari Dutt Shishu, General Secretary of Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan on The Straight Line Talks with Pallavi Sareen and Renu Kotwal.
Pallavi Sareen: Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan didn’t take part in Municipal Elections but participated in the Panchayat Elections. Why? Were you waiting for the assembly to dissolve?
Dr Shishu: Dogra Swabhiman is born in search of justice for the Dogra community. The Rasana case has initiated the foundation of this Sangathan.
Pallavi Sareen: But what is the connection between Panchayat elections and Rasana case?
Dr Shishu: This Sangathan was not formed for any political purpose. We wanted justice for that daughter. People from all areas of Jammu came forward together to speak for her. We wanted an enquiry by CBI. Even after a hard struggle for justice, people from Lakhanpur to Banihal from Hindu to Muslim from Sikh to Christian in lakhs came forward for justice but still, the government didn’t take any action.
After this, the intellects of Jammu decided to stand for justice and rights of Dogras. Municipal elections were political party based and our sangathan is not a political party. We are still not registered as a party. If we talk about panchayat elections, the local people didn’t want to go with any political party so our sangathan decided to participate in panchayat polls. As a result of huge support by the people, sangathan’s members won as panch and sarpanch.
Pallavi Sareen: We would like to know if your Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan would remain apolitical in future or get into the mainstream politics?
Dr.Sishu: Every politician, party, intellectual has the same question in mind that when will Dogra Swabhiman sangathan will join politics. Honestly, I would like to say that Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan’s pure aim is to uplift Dogras and fight for their rights. Integrating Dogras is our mission. Kashmir-centric politics has ruined us. Politicians have always discriminated against us and tried to divide Dogras in name of caste and religion and in the name of Chenab valley. First time a Dogra centric sangathan is formed.
Our sangathan is lead by Ch. Lal Singh. It is the first sangathan which does not consider vote bank. We have started our sangathan only ten months ago. On April 13 we decided to gather people and stand together for the rights of Dogras. We are still integrating our people to strengthen our community. Our principle is to integrate our people and stand for our rights. When Dogra’s will get together by forgetting all the difference, castes and religion, that day Dogras would win. Everything would become small in front of the unity of our people. Our aim is to abolish those forces which try to create confusion among commoners and try to divide society in the name of religion.
Pallavi Sareen: Ch. Lal Singh was in the state cabinet during Rasana case. After resigning he formed Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan. Even before then, Dogras used to reside in Jammu and they had pride. Why didn’t anyone took this initiative before Rasana case?
Dr Shishu: First of all for your knowledge I would like to recall you that Dogras have raised their voice against injustice from time to time. Dogras are always discriminated against. It is very unfortunate that for political gains politicians sell out the interests of Dogras.
Ch.Lal Singh didn’t raise his voice earlier at such a big extent because you need prominence to get your voice heard. If he were not a former cabinet minister, three-time MLA who would have listened to him? He established his credibility among the common people. Jammu people know who is honestly standing for their rights. Because Ch.Lal Singh is the leader of our sangathan, masses are integrating with our sangathan. We are emerging as a power together.
Pallavi Sareen: But when he was in the cabinet why didn’t he raise his voice? Why after resigning?
Dr.Shishu: He raised his voice against the discrimination of Dogras even when he was in the cabinet. He visited Rasana himself and examined the situation. People were migrated from Rasana, it became political chaos. The chief minister told him to examine the ground realities. He heard the locals of Rasana and found that people want CBI enquiry in Rasana case.
He stood by the demands of the common people of Rasana. He paid for standing with the people. Ch.Lal Singh raised his voice against injustice. It is the result of faith of people in Ch. Lal Singh that Mehbooba Mufti is sitting at home. Government denied our demand for justice for Rasana’s daughter and as a result, today the members of that government are sitting at home.
Pallavi Sareen: The stand of Ch.Lal Singh is clear, that is CBI enquiry but the stand of BJP is not clear. The Dogra Swabhiman is angry with BJP over this but Ch. Lal Singh is still in BJP. Why?
Dr Shishu: Every person, be it a politician or a media person is seeing our sangathan with different angles. The fact is that Ch.Lal has only one agenda from 6 a.m to 12 p.m that is the integration of Dogras. He has taken the initiative of integrating people of Jammu, from Lakhanpur to Banihal. He wants people to stand together. He has no time to think of anything else. He is not paying attention to anything else. His priority is integrating people to stand together. He is working to save the pride of India, Jammu and Kashmir and the people of Jammu. By integrating Dogras he is trying to save the culture of our Dogras. Strengthening Dogras is strengthening India.
Pallavi Sareen: But the rumours are that it is a strategy of BJP and in coming elections, Dogra sangathan is going to merge into BJP. Is there any truth to that?
Dr Shishu: Already told you that different people have different opinions about our Sangathan.
Pallavi Sareen: Why doesn’t he officially resign from BJP? The rumours will come to an end.
Dr Shishu: The government has already collapsed. Ch. Lal Singh is standing firmly on his principles. Mehbooba Mufti government collapsed because of efforts of Ch Lal Singh. He has some fair demands and he is standing for those demands. We are not giving importance to rumours. Ch. Lal Singh, along with the intellectuals have given the vision document. They have given the 25-point vision document. Unity in diversity is our principle along with patriotism. It is the result of his efforts that people are standing with Dogra swabhiman.
Pallavi Sareen: How much has your Sangathan worked on those 25 points in the vision document?
Dr Shishu: We are working day and night on it. We have started awareness campaign on it. It is a political battle so we have done the documentation in the form of a visionary document. We have submitted those documents to honourable governor and discussed it with him for one and a half hour. We have documented our 8-month long struggle. I am sure that Hon’ble Governor would soon take action. I am sure that in future nobody would dare to think about doing injustice with people of Jammu.
Pallavi Sareen: Seems like Dogra Sangathan has only one issue that is of Rasana case. If CBI enquiry is granted then will your Sangathan collapse?
Dr Shishu: NO, absolutely not. This Dogra swabhiman Sangathan will remain forever, for standing for the rights of Dogras. It will always remain functional for saving the culture and heritage of Dogras. It is not something temporary.
Pallavi Sareen: You are talking about saving Dogra culture and heritage. Have you ever visited Mubarak Mandi, which is the cultural heritage of Dogras? Have you ever tried to know if Dogri is taught in schools or not? Why Dogri is still not a subject in school? Dogra heritage and pride cannot be saved by talks only. Where is the work?
Dr Shishu: Your words are true. The vision document we have prepared is the permanent cure of all these problems. We have suggested for forming a separate administration service commission for Jammu’s people. Use the Kashmiri language as the official language in Kashmir, we don’t have any problem but we want permanent Dogri teachers recruited in administration.
Pallavi Sareen: But the administration is a secondary thing. Dogri is not even taught at primary level. Where you will get the teachers?
Dr.Shishu: We can’t bring big changes without political power. When power will come in our hands, things will change.
Pallavi Sareen: But you just said that you will not get into elections.
Dr Shishu: No, I was talking about not participating in municipal elections. As for further elections in the state, we will proceed as per the decisions of our central committee. We will work with the support of common people. Whatever our general body decides will be followed.
Pallavi Sareen: It means you agree that political power is important?
Dr Shishu: Yes, definitely
Pallavi Sareen: Is there any chance Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan will work with other Dogra parties like ”Ekjut Jammu” in future?
Dr Shishu: I don’t want to comment on any particular organisation. But Dogra swabhiman Sangathan will welcome every organisation and every individual who has a pluralistic ideology. All those who want to move forward with Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs together, those who stand with justice and equality are welcome.
Pallavi Sareen: Does your list include Kashmiri Pandits?
Dr Shishu: They are welcome too if they are living in Jammu. They are consuming Jammu’s resource but their political seats are in Kashmir. Why? We have demanded that their two seats should shift to Jammu. Many Muslims are living in Bithindi, Sidhra and Gandhi Nagar because of Kashmir unrest. They are too consuming Jammu’s resources so their seat should also be shifted here in Jammu till the time they are living in Jammu. If resources are of Jammu, then why not the political power? Our fight is not against any religion but the discrimination with Jammu.
Pallavi Sareen: In Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Ch. Lal’s sons are also there. Will it become a family organisation?
Dr Shishu: Being somebody’s son is not a crime. Every person will emerge based on their qualities here. Our sangathan is democratic. Being Ch.Lal’s son is not a crime. It is about his will to work in the sangathan. Nobody should have a problem with it.
Pallavi Sareen: You have a flag, a vision document which is almost like a political manifesto and a slogan ”jai duggar jai dogra”. You launched all these things during the start of your sangathan and the process is almost identical to the formation of a new party. Then why do you deny that you had no intention to form a political party?
Dr Shishu: I have told you that initially it was all about justice in the Rasana case but people started integrating. People trust us. We had discussions before forming the flag too. This flag symbolises love and peace, a goat and a lion drinking water from the same pond. In our Sangathan, the strong and the weak both have the same rights. This symbol reflects Dogra culture so we decided to have this flag. It is also tricolour, it represents the nation first.
Pallavi Sareen: What is your stand on Article 370 and 35A?
Dr Shishu: To divert the attention of people, politicians start talking about these articles. It’s like exploiting people. Why doesn’t anybody talk about the real matters which cpuld be dealt with?
Pallavi Sareen: President rule has been implemented so it is a matter which could be dealt with. What is your stand on it?
Dr Shishu: We have given a document to governor sahab regarding this too. The poonchi people and the migrants of POK who are staying here in Jammu should get atleast 6 seats from the 24 seats freezed by Kashmiri politicians. Let’s wait for the decision of his excellency the governor. 2 seats should be given to the Kashmiri migrants. Talk about the things which can be done. Don’t confuse people over 370 and 35A.
Pallavi Sareen: The issue of JKPSC is in lamelight. The leaders of your sangathan have also met the students or not?
Dr.Shishu: Yes, students came to meet our leaders. We are already fighting for seperate adminstration for Jammu.
Pallavi Sareen: But why haven’t you joined hands with the students and helped them in their campaign against JKPSC?
Dr Shishu: We are already fighting this battle from the past 7 months. In a recent case, out of 5 medical posts, only one post was given to a Jammuite and rest were given to Kashmiris. We had a press conference on it too. The administration is pro-Kashmir. Injustice with Jammu has not started recently. It has been like that from last 60 to 70 years. If there can be two central universities, two IIMs then why not two PSCs?
Pallavi Sareen: What’s next for Dogra Swabiman Sangathan?
Dr Shishu: We would like to invite dynamic Dogras like you to stand for the rights of Dogras. Vote bank politics will come and go but the question mark on the identity and culture of Dogra should be removed. A new path and positive conditions are in making. We are committed to it.
Pallavi Sareen: One last question. Will Dogra swabhiman compromise with its Dogra principles and merge into BJP’S Hindutva ideology?
Dr Shishu: We are as focused as Arjun was focused on the eye of the fish. We have respect for Hindus Muslims, Sikhs and Christians alike. Through your channel, I would like to appeal to the people to come forward and support us so that the coming generations live a life with equality.