Thursday, January 23, 2020

Jammu long forgotten after August 5 Article 370 dilution

With lots of new developments that are happening in the entire country with CAA, NRC, JNU and Jamia violence, it seems as if Jammu and Kashmir has already been forgotten. Despite the internet shutdown having run a course of more than five months in the erstwhile state and the recent judgement of the Supreme Court on the same, it seems as if Jammu and Kashmir is no longer the point of conversation among the rest of the country and especially  the Central government.

While Kashmir awaits orders of restoration of broadband, the release of political detainees; Jammu has its eyes on domicile, mobile internet, job avenues and the industrialization that it was promised. However, the current state of affairs in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir wherein most of the commissions stand defunct and memberless, confusion regarding new rules and laws is prevalent show that the transitional period of Jammu and Kashmir becoming a Union Territory will take a long while especially if it no longer remains a priority due to circumstances in rest of the country.

The problem BJP government has to face now is that after having taken bold decisions that it had promised in its election manifesto, it has to deliver and show improvement in the lives of people. Jammu already stands disgruntled over the prolonged internet shutdown, the existence of a Sarore Toll Plaza and the suffering businesses due to Kashmir’s dissent over Centre’s decision.

The pipe dream of new avenues opening for the people of Jammu was further shattered with a Jammu and Kashmir High Court notification offering pan-India recruitment for non-gazetted posts. Given that it was later withdrawn, the new civil service ratio of 67:33 as compared to the previous 50:50 is also creating anxiety in the people of Jammu along with a realisation of what they might have lost in their ambition of becoming free from Kashmir’s hegemony.

Jammu is still not free from its dependence on Kashmir, but only happy that while they suffer, Kashmir suffers too. Their suffering is justified in the name of national interest but today, even a common Jammu man is forced to ask that for how long they will remain the sacrificial lamb. When now, after the abrogation of special status, it was their turn to reap the benefits, must they once again wait for Kashmir to get political empowerment? They must wait till Kashmir is normal enough for assembly elections to be conducted in Jammu.

However, it does not even seem to be a distinct possibility in the current turbulent times. While there is no turbulence on the surface, the drawing-room conversations have now shifted to whether nothing has changed even after the abrogation of J&K’s special status. As a new political front emerges from the valley while having a conversation with Lt Governor Girish Chandra Murmu, a foreign envoy comes, visits Jammu but only to talk to the Kashmiri Pandits living in Jagti Migrant colony. For the people of Jammu, life goes on.

Waiting for their long-pending demands to be met from the removal of Sarore Toll Plaza, jobs for the unemployed youth, better facilities, road connectivity to the peripheral areas of Doda, Rajouri, Poonch, Kishtwar to the development of indigenous industries, trade and commerce, it seems as if once again the problems of Jammu will be overshadowed by other pressing matters.

When we talk about Kashmir, the distrust grows further as more time passes and no significant changes are seen in the circumstances. This transitional period is what the Central government had to showcase the people of Jammu and Kashmir what golden plan it had envisioned for ‘New J&K’ and how well thought-out it was. But now it seems as if the abrogation of J&K’s special status was an arbitrary exercise undertaken to check-off one more election promise while throwing the ball in J&K administration’s court to handle the consequences afterwards.


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