*Dr. K L Chowdhury
Picture by shehjar's photo journalist in Jammu: Raman Raina
| he ongoing agitation in Jammu against the revocation of land-transfer order for the Amarnath Yatra has entered a crucial phase with the 23rd August, 2008 dialogue between the Governor’s panel and the Sangharsh Samiti representatives. Whatever the outcome of the ongoing dialogue, and let us pray it is positive, this agitation, which truly deserves to be called an uprising, will define the future of the people of Jammu who deserve a better deal and of the exiled Kashmiri Pandits whose claim to a homeland in the valley gets stronger by the hour.
The spontaneity, intensity, frequency and range of public rallies and the wholesome participation from all sections of Jammu, cutting across ethnic, religious and political affiliations, makes it the most spectacular event in Jammu’s recent history and translates the pent up feelings of hurt and humiliation and the acute on chronic sense of denial and deprivation of the masses culminating with an attack on their religious faith.
The Kashmiris of the valley have been lording it over the hapless Jammu people these 60 years, behaving like Moguls and ruling directly as well as through their mandarins, keeping them in eternal subjugation and servitude. They effectively ejected the whole population of minority Pandits in the terrorist putsch of the 1989-90 and continued with the process of demolition of their homes and heritage, as also their pilgrim centers in a bid at total religious cleansing. The denial of a small tract of land to facilitate the holiest of pilgrimages is but an extension of the process.
Once again, the gullible masses in the valley were taken for a frenzied ride by the politicians of all hues who joined their forces for this xenophobic overkill which pressurized the new governor to surrender and the Chief Minister to blunder by passing the order of revocation even when he had lost his majority. It was unconstitutional and illegal. It also was the unkindest cut by a man whose government, through his infamous ‘Roshni’ scheme, gifted several thousands acres of State land to people of power and influence and not to the deserving poor and landless for whom it was envisaged on paper. Jammu got a meager share.
The massive hysteria against land transfer in the valley was whipped up by a viciously false propaganda, a masterly subterfuge, that it was aimed at creating Israel-type settlements of Hindus with the intent to effect demographic change and causing an ecological disaster. In fact, it is the influential people from the valley who have effected a demographic change in Jammu by seizing the best forest land for their private mansions, as well as in Kashmir by forcing the whole Hindu population out from the valley. Jammu people have been kept in good humor all along by the wily people of the valley by lavishing false praise and adulation on them for being accommodative, tolerant, assimilative, secular and syncretic, even as the valley Muslims have made effective inroads here and built winter dachas for themselves in posh colonies.
The denial of even a patch of land for the Amarnath Yatra and in the same stroke making defunct the Amarnath Shrine Board( a statutory body of Hindus akin to the Auqaf of Muslims), was the last straw on the camel’s back and served to catalyze the Jammu agitation. The tamed camel instead of buckling rose in revolt. This was a wild provocation to the millions of Hindu faithful who see it not only as a replay of the medieval times when Hindus were not allowed worship and their idols were destroyed and desecrated, but also as the greatest capitulation and the most humiliating surrender to the Islamist separatists with whom the so called ‘moderate’ and mainstream politicians openly joined hands.
Now, for the first time in 20 years since the rise of terrorism, Jammu people have risen in protest against this grave insult to their religious sensitivities. Pandits have lent their wholehearted support and, except for a few well-known compulsive leaders with a penchant to steal the limelight and see themselves in the press at every possible opportunity, they have remained discreet and allowed the Sangharsh Samiti to lead from the front, which is as it should be in our own interest.
The Central Government has been fiddling and dithering while Jammu burns and the valley turns. The resignation and recasting of the Shrine Board were just cosmetic measures, as also the All Party Meet chaired by the Prime Minister, and the Parliamentary delegation to J&K of a band of bored and somnolent parliamentarians more on mission to douse the anger in Kashmir than the fire in Jammu. And to keep the National Highway open so the valley gets its quota of sheep, fowl, eggs, vegetables, gas, fuel and merchandise (because they can grow nothing there except hatred and jihad). One wonders what freedom they are seeking in the valley when they can not subsist even for a couple of days without the largesse that has been flowing unfettered from the rest of India all these decades to keep them pampered and in good humour.
People in Jammu have been defying curfew, facing baton charge and bullets, laying down their precious lives in this supreme sacrifice. The highhandedness of the administration, the martial law like conditions including the censor of the media for some time till the courts moved in, the excesses of the police in storming residential homes, beating up children and women, and arresting people, the denial of access to essential commodities because of the strike has, in fact, caused economic blockade to the most tolerant people of Jammu while the governor himself is monitoring the highway and the unhindered movement of goods carriers to the valley at all costs. And yet, and yet, the brave people have kept the national tricolor afloat all through with pride matching the green and crescent in the valley. They sang praises of the army during the curfew even as every little lane and by lane was being barricaded by the security forces with barbed wire mesh to stop people from coming out of their homes. This must have surprised the army who are always spat at and abused in the valley.
It is a tribute to the valiant people of Jammu crusading for their rights who, in the face of severe deprivations and but for few stray incidents (engineered by the enemies of the struggle), displayed calm and equipoise in this storm, maintained inter-religious harmony, desisted from attacking any citizen or the security forces, and ensured safety and sanctity of National, State and private properties. The 3-day spectacle of more than 5 hundred thousand men, women and children, including pram-borne infants and toddlers, submitting themselves to arrest and filling jails, will remain inerasable from our individual and collective memory.
Poor lord Shiva! He must be wondering why his fair name is being dragged into this controversy? I wish we could leave Him alone. But, who knows, He may be directing it all, for, we know, He does not require a few hectares of land when He is the cause and effect of the whole universe.
24th August, 2008
*Dr. K L Chowdhury retired as a Professor of Medicine, Medical College, Srinagar. Presently he is the Director of a charitable institution, Shriya Bhatt Mission Hospital and Research Center, Durga Nagar, Jammu.
He is a physician and neurologist, a medical researcher, poet, social activist. He writes on diverse subjects – medical, literary, social and political and has numerous research papers to his credit, his pioneering work being “The Health Trauma in a Displaced Population” which was presented at national and international conferences.
He was declared Shehjar's ' Kashmiri Person of the year ' for 2007.
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A well documented analysis of present situation in the State with its historical background.
Added By pushkar ganjoo
Dear Dr.Chowdhury, You teach even without trying. Thank you.
Added By Arun Koul
A poem on higher values of life, with a spiritual content and emotional understanding. This is what the Upanishads say about the' MAATRI DEVO BHAVA" Chaman Lal Raina
Added By C L Raina
Added By sang woo