Jammu the savior and a true Samaritan

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Jammu the savior and a true Samaritan
Rajesh T Bhatt

Image by Nihar Ganju
he land of snow, clad and mountains that share a common boundary with Afghanistan, China and Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is the northern most state of the Indian union. As an exception and due to unique topography characteristic this is the only state with two capitals, Jammu the winter capital and Srinagar (Kashmir) summer capital. While Kashmir’s scenic beauty is so exotic that it is considered as a paradise on earth on the other hand Jammu region also known the city of temples is a sacred place known for historical harmony and peace.

According to the most popular legend the city of Jammu was founded by King Jambhu Lochan in 14th C BC during one of his hunting campaigns he was mesmerized by the divine powers of this land. Near the river (Tawi) he saw a goat and a lion drinking water together at the same place. The king was impressed and decided to set up a town after his name Jhambu, gradually Jhambu got transformed in to the present day Jammu. The city’s name figures in the ancient book of Mahabharata. It’s name is also found in the memoirs of Timur a Turkish ruler. Adorned with several ports and palaces Amar Mahel palace offers the reminiscence of a fairytale castle with splendid towers, caped by sloping roofs. Geographically Jammu is located 740 24’ and 750 18’east longitude and 320 50’ and 330 30’north latitude. It is approx. 600Km away from National capital and is spread over an area of 26089.4sq Km .The province of Jammu lies between the outer hills bounding the valley of Kashmir in the south, and the hilly tract extending to the plains of the Punjab. The river Ravi flows in the east of this region and river, Jhelum in the west. It is the second largest populated district of the state with highest literacy rate of 42.86%. According to the 1991 census Jammu city presently ranks as 48thbiggest city in terms of growth.

The history of J&K is the 2nd oldest after the history of Jews as old as 5000years. From the numerous excavations and evidences the Hindu and Buddhist rulers ruled this land. Maurayan emperor, Ashoka is said to have ruled Kashmir and founded the city of Srinagar. This land is said to have flourished and has been the home of Vedic culture and religion, Buddhist faith, Sanskrit scholarship and Shaivism, during the reign of Kings like Lalitaditya and Avantivarman .However, with the advent of Islam in 13th C this place was earlier ruled by Sultans, then Moguls and Afghan rulers till1820.The history of of the state becomes more interesting from 1820 onwards when the Sikh rulers overpowered the Afghans. In 1845 the first Anglo –Sikh war broke out and British entered into a treaty called ‘Treaty of Amritsar”, in which the entire Kashmir was sold to Gulab Singh, a Sikh ruler for a meager sum of Rs 75 lacks. J&K as a single entity was unified and founded by him on March 16, 1846. However, after the revolt of 1857 this Kingdom came under the British crown. Gulabsingh’s son Maharaja Ranbir Singh became the ruler and in 1925 Ranbir’s grandson HariSingh ascended the throne.

During Sikh and Dogra regime, Jammu region flourished in its arts and crafts leading to the enrichment of the cultural and social life of this region. Many land revenue systems; roads and other developmental works were undertaken. Islam, Hinduism and those influenced by Buddhism existed peacefully. However with the formation of Muslim conference in 1925 renamed as National conference in 1938 by Sheikh Abdullah, Jammu region started getting biased approach In Oct, 1947 when Pashtun raiders from Pakistan invaded Kashmir, HariSingh got help from Indian army to repulse them back after signing the instrument of Accession. On the other hand playing again its communal politics after partition Pakistan contested accession claiming that Indian army illegally entered Kashmir.

In the year 1949 article 370 was enacted to grant special status to this state; however this became the root cause of discrimination to the Jammu region. Right after its insertion, Kashmir continued to receive good lot of attention both from the national and international level. Unfortunately the seed of separatism and misleading propaganda sown by our neighbor Pakistan has always kept this region boiling mostly for the wrong reasons historically and constitutionally Kashmir is now a closed chapter. It was in the June 1948 when Sheikh Abdullah declared,” we the people of Jammu & Kashmir, have thrown our lot with Indian people not in the heat of passion or a moment of desire by a deliberate choice. The union of our people has been fused by the community of ideals and common sufferings in the cause of freedom.” But Pakistan right from its inception has been busy in fooling the international community including UN regarding Kashmir as a disputed land, so much so that the Kashmiri politicians have also began to sing their tune be it in the form of demanding full autonomy for state or self rule, dual currency and even redrawing of the borders etc. there is no denying of the fact that anti-India hysteria is persistent in the valley has always questioned its assertion or integration with Indian union.

Time and again Jammu has proven a savior and a true Samaritan, the state of J&K has always offered diversity in terms of religion, culture, ethics, languages and topography further deepen by the geographical divisions created by formidable mountain ranges with Jammu sharing its tropical climate with rest of the country but valley of Kashmir shivering in cold for most part of the year. From the political perspective also the two regions are poles apart. While Kashmir, though paradise on earth has always been in turbulence but Jammu region has always tried to retain its peace and tranquility in spite of the enormous mayhem around. It is perhaps due to some mystic characteristic of this sanctified place that people of this land have always welcome and sheltered the victims of circumstances be that war or terrorism. The various historical occasions can provide insight into the Samaritan characteristic of Jammu region. In the year 1947 with the formation of Pakistan due to partition numerous people especially Sikhs and Hindus fled for their lives and cross the border to make this place their second home. At the same time due to invasion of Pashtum raiders from Pakistan in Oct 1947 many of the Kashmiri Hindus of the valley were also forced to leave their homes and hearths to this place only. In the years 1965 and 1971 Pakistan attacked India and both the times Pakistan was defeated severely but the harassment to the people made them to fled towards the Jammu region to begin their new lives. In the middle of 80’s when terrorism was at its peak in Punjab, numerous Punjabi families migrated to this region to earn their bread and butter away from the gun trotting violence of their native state, and eventually got settled in the Jammu region only.

In the year 1986 in one of the most shameful acts of religious massacre, when Pakistan had speeded up its anti-India propaganda among Kashmir’s Muslims several ancient Hindu temples were destroyed and scores of Hindus were looted and killed in the Anantnag district of this state. This time even though govt. immediately embarked upon the relief measures but the pandit community’s (KP’s) trust upon the govt. had shaken, not because relief measures were not adequate but because govt. had not done enough to tame the fundamentalist elements in the valley, This time again they started looking towards their Jammu brethren for support and shelter. Although Kashmiri pandits had to face exit from Kashmir on six various occasions but the exit from valley in the 1989-90 can neither be considered exodus nor migration but pure and simple genocide of Kashmiri Hindu’s. This Genocide is the outcome of an ideology and KP’s have always been the victim of fundamentalist and the separatist ideology. While Kashmir has been the target of militancy due to which thousands of innocent people be it Hindus, Muslims, or Sikhs lost their lives but the Jammu region of the state continued to remain composed and unruffled giving shelter to almost 300,000 Kashmiri Hindus who have left their birth place ,their Homeland for the sake of honor and dignity. Had Jammu region not been helpful at that time most of Kashmiri Hindus would have been nothing less than orphans on the roads. The people of Jammu received them with open arms and provided moral and financial support to them.

Quite evident that being a patriotic proves to be too costly for KP’S as well as people of Jammu but it all goes unnoticed because the Govt. eyes are blindfolded by the appeasement policy to woo the fundamentalist and the separatist elements of the state, which are not even ready to consider them part and parcel of India. Jammu region has always acted as a friend in need but from the govt.’s side it has always received the prejudiced approach. On the name of disturbed area, the politicians at the helm demand huge economic packages, in which major chunk goes in their pockets and small proportion goes for the developmental work of this region. This attitude of the state and the central govt. towards the peace loving and patriotic people of Jammu should be condemned vehemently. The govt. has already tasted the outcome of its negative mind set over the Shri Amarnath land row. The people’s moment in Jammu province supported by KP’s and other sections has surely created a historic niche in the J&K state. Similar incidence would have come in force in the recent days on the issue of opening up a new university at Jammu; if at all the decision for grant of university from central govt. would have been further delayed. So it is in the hands of the authorities for now to tread the path carefully for not generating another separatist moment in the Jammu region.
*Rajesh T Bhatt (Yajin) (freelancer), a Kashmir valley resident from Anantnag, Education: Post graduate in computer Science, working with Telecom sector for last 8 years. Father retired from defence services. Presently living in Delhi with his family.
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