I’m a Dogra, a not much known entity of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is, we Dogras who have kept the flame of Nationalism lit brightly in this state, even during those difficult years in early nineties. Since independence, we Dogras have played a pivotal role in the development of this state by keeping the idea of INDIA alive at the expense of losing our own worth and dignity but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. We have been instrumental in keeping the state intact. Even before Independence, If it wasn’t for the Dogras and its soldiers, the state would have had a different fate altogether.
But, sadly the narrative that has ruled our conscience since long has largely been Kashmir centric, for the region of Jammu always playing a second fiddle to the former. The recent abrogation of Article 370 and the consequent reorganization of the state has given voice to the oppressed and marginalized. Had the power elites ever understood the pain and agony of a single mother who wasn’t able to transfer her property to her children just because she was married to a non JKiian? Or the throes a person whose children were not getting admissions into the government educational institutions. No, they didn’t .They rather considered it as an extended ‘liability’ shrouded under the garb of triviality.
The abrogation of 35A has ushered in an era of equality, liberty and fraternity as was espoused by the ideals of French Revolution. I don’t understand as to how one can justify the discrimination of women, Jammu based Schedule Castes, Gurkhas and West Pak Refugees, who braved the tribal brutalities in 194, and that too in the world’s largest democracy. They’d have heaved a euphoric sigh of relief after braving 72 year long incessant state sponsored discrimination.
This decision of Indian government was passed by our Parliament wholeheartedly, reflecting the ingenuity and willingness of the Indian state to ameliorate the oppressed and the downtrodden. The move, in no way, sought to harass the Muslims of the state, as is being claimed by Pakistan. For another, the move aimed to curtail the hold of separatists and secessionists riding on the gravy trains of Pakistan and ISI, who were threatening the security of India by instigating the gullible Kashmiris for Aazadi using the tag of Islam and Jihad. These machinations of Pakistan were unbearable, so it became pertinent to nip those devious tendencies in the bud itself.
The cultural ethos of J&K, in particular and India in general have always been all inclusive and secular, stemming from the age old idea of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (World is our Family). Hence, no claim of Muslim persecution can be held true, given India has second largest Muslim population in the world with the highest number of mosques. But, on the contrary it’s the Pakistan that has persecuted its minorities and the forced killings and conversions of Hindus, Sikhs,Christians, Ahmadis etc is well documented. As a matter of fact, the proportion of Hindus in Pakistan has plopped by 12% since independence. Under what moral precept, Pakistan carries the gumption to lecture India on minorities and Human Rights, when its own backyard is facing for Pakistani Army’s brutality.
Broadly speaking, the Indian government has killed two birds with one stone. It has brought the discriminated into the mainstream and gave voice to Dogras, Ladakhis, Gujjaras and Bakerwals. But, sadly what finds recognition at the international level is the voice of Kashmiris. What about another half the population of the state that has overwhelmingly welcomed this decision. They have termed it as an undoing of a historic blunder to give justice. But, no international media will highlight such stories, for anything except Kashmir is untouchable for them. For them, the state starts and ends with the Kashmir. Jammu, virtually has no representation. Surprisingly, many in the Indian media as well refer to the state as ‘KASHMIR’, which is factually incorrect, for Kashmir is just a 15% territory of this state.
It is, Jammu which has freed herself from the shackles of Kashmiri hegemony and is now free to chart it’s own developmental agenda in line with the region’s aspirations and cumulative will. Well, in the short run, we shouldn’t be expecting much of the windfall to be accruing from this restructuring but in the medium as well as long term, gains will surely be highlighted. But, in the meantime, it’s necessary that we fill the prevailing chasm between the two regions and work for development and peace.
Now, the onus lies upon the residents to bring normalcy and peace back to the state. The government has already lifted communications blackout and landlines are functional in the whole state,barring few patches. 99% of the state is out of curfew. The 3 civilians who lost their lives during this period were killed by the terrorists and stone pelters. But, the propaganda machinery has overlooked all these facts and in turn, has brought grist to the Pakistani mill. It’s therefore, necessary that the world understand J&K from a perspective that is not Kashmiri and as Chinua Achebe says “If you only hear one side of the story,you have no understanding at all”