Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain
Recently a delegation of Ladakh Hill Development Council met state chief minister and demanded divisional status for Ladakh. The reason cited was that Ladakhis are not getting a fair deal while remaining associated with Kashmir. This is the same logic that they advanced for creation of autonomous authority, few years back. Through that demand they got autonomous Hill Council with almost every power of the state with them.
If we look at allegation of raw deal with Ladakh from statistical point of view the allegations remain unfounded. In terms of annual development plans the per capita spending in Ladakh region has been highest within whole of those areas which remain associated with Kashmir division.
Total population of Leh district is 117637 as compared to Srinagar which has 1183493. Annual allocation of funds remains disproportional to population. Srinagar had an annual plan of 4547.24 lakhs whereas annual plan of Leh district was 7235.51 lakhs (Economic Survey 2010-11). The per capita spending of government funds for Leh district in year 2010-11 was 0.0615 as compared to Srinagar which had per capita spending of 0.0038 in the same year. It is obvious that per capita allocation for Leh is sixteen times more than the spending in Srinagar. The allegation of raw deal thus not only remains false but also indicates the manipulative mindset of those running Hill Council and pretending to represent whole of Ladakh.
The plight of Peer Panchal area (Ponch and Rajouri) and Chinab region (Kishtiwar, Doda, Ramban and Reasi) of Jammu the situation is pathetic. Jammu division gets more shares in funds, administrative positions and development from the state but whole of it is consumed by Jammu, Kuthwa and Udhampur districts.
Both Chinab and Peer Panchaal areas are left high and dry. In terms of development, share in services and other facilities both these areas have been discriminated. Apart from discrimination the areas are often subjected to high handedness through a nexus between alien IAS officers and Jammu dominated administration.
The people within these areas have been subjected to humiliating treatment for last sixty years. Village defense committees (VDC) created in the name of counter insurgency operations have at times behaved as ‘gangs of marauders’ roaming from one village to another and harassing people by making false allegations of their association with militancy.
What Kashmiris faced through counter insurgency grid commonly known as Ikhwani’s reminds lots of people in Peer Panchaal and Chinaab areas of their daily lives.
Most of the VDC members are the ones who have been associated with extremist radical groups and products of their Shakhas. Whenever people of these regions complain against high handedness of these outsourced counter insurgency groups there is no one in the administration to attend their grievances. Given the fact that Jammu region experienced large scale ethnic cleansing and genocide after 1947 makes the populations of these areas feel insecure. Arming of private gangs makes them to feel that they may be subjected to similar mass killings as happened with lots of Muslims in Jammu, Kuthwa and Udhampur districts in 1947-48.
Kashmir often remains apprehensive about future of Muslim population of these districts. Recent firing by Border Security Forces on unarmed civilians in Gool area has brought the plight of Muslims of these areas to limelight.
Ladakh hasn’t ever suffered this way. If state needs to be reorganized it is these areas which deserve to be segregated from Jammu division and organized as separate divisions, prior to consideration of any such demand from Ladakh. Partitioning Kashmir division selectively is fraught with risk of sever backlash consequences of which can lead to horrifying results.