Be Fair

In J&K, regional discrimination is an old issue. Political forces in Jammu have used it for creating and consolidating their influences.

The gulf between regions started with the rise of Praja Parishad that launched a stir against incorporating Article 370 in the Indian constitution. A seven-month agitation against Nehru – Abdullah accord of 1952 led to the constitution of a cabinet committee to recommend substantial measures of autonomy for each region of the state with powers of taxation and legislature. Though the committee did not take off, it followed another movement about “regional imbalances” prompting Dr Karan Singh, in November 1965, to favour J&K’s re-organization with Jammu joining Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh taken as Union Territory and Kashmir declared autonomous.  These developments prompted Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq, the then Chief Minister to appoint P B Gajendragadker Commission in 1967. In 1979, Sheikh Abdullah appointed S M Sikri Commission.

These commissions differed diagonally in their recommendations. Gajendragadker suggested a deputy chief minister for Jammu, and a cabinet minister for Ladakh, besides, advising the government to decide when and how the state must fully integrate with the union (as demanded by Jana Sangh). Sikri turned down Jammu demand for amendments in the state constitution and instead suggested the government not to discriminate against Kargil over Leh.

The “unfair distribution” of power continued to hog the headlines but the major surprise came from Leh where Buddhists boycotted Muslims for a long time forcing New Delhi to accept their demand for an autonomous hill development council in 1995, a structure that was later given to Kargil in 2000. In 1996 then home minister Indrajit Gupta stated the centre was considering trifurcation of the state on geo-cultural basis, a statement he later withdrew in wake of condemnations. In 1999, National Conference tabled its reports on greater autonomy and regional autonomy. Of the two models that the latter suggested, one envisaged six autonomous councils – three each in Kashmir and Jammu.

There have been many exercises within and outside the government about which region was discriminated against and how. But there has been no effort to analyse existing disparity within the same region on development and the distribution of resources.

The erstwhile Doda that has now been trifurcated has always alleged unfair treatment. Over the contentious issue of central university, it has risen up and has staked its claim. Irrespective of where the university goes, the issue has opened a Pandora box. Now the government has the responsibility of ensuring that there is no unfair treatment to any regions across J&K as far as distribution of resources and amenities are concerned.

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