Prof Hari OmJammu and Dogras of Jammu have a glorious past. They were known for their chivalrous, splendid and spectacular military deeds and feats of bravery. They were too well-known for the establishment of a mighty Dogra Empire, of which Kashmir and Ladakh were also parts. They were known for the promotion of Indian civilisation, art, architecture, culture, literature and handicrafts. They were also known for social reform movements calculated to ridding the society of evils like child marriage, Sati Pratha and caste taboos. Not just this, they were known for providing free education; for removing restrictions on the temple entry; and for a fair justice system as well. But more than that, they were known for liberal values, spirit of accommodation, simplicity, brotherhood and peaceful co-existence. And, who doesn’t know how happily — and with folded-hands — the Dogras embraced victims of fanaticism in 1947, 1948, 1990, and even thereafter. Besides, they are known for their commitment to the country and the nation knows it that this strategic part of the country is with India because of their supreme sacrifices.What is the present status of the Dogras, who before 1846 and between 1846 and 1947 reigned supreme? They are considered second-grade subjects by the powers-that-be. They have suffered immense socio-cultural and politico-economic losses after 1947. The fact of the matter is that they were rigorously and systematically excluded from all walks of life, without any exception. It’s hardly necessary to reflect on what the successive Kashmir-centric, Kashmir-led and Kashmir dominated Governments in the state and their ardent supporters in New Delhi did to the Dogras during all these years of the accession of J&K to India. Everything is in public domain. Official statistics are available with the assembly secretariat and other departments, including General Administration, Finance, Planning and Social Welfare Departments. A white paper on what Jammu province and the Dogras got after 1947 would clear all the cobwebs of confusion and establish that they were treated unfairly and that they were willfully and as a part of conspiracy ignored, neglected anddiscriminated.Not that the suffering Dogras didn’t cry. They did cry. They, from time to time, launched big movements. They did suffer official brutalities in the process. Many even lost their lives in different parts of the province, including Jammu itself. But none cared for them. The Jammu leaders, barring a few exceptions, instead of protecting and promoting further the general socio-economic and politico-economic rights and interests of the Dogras chose to flirt with Kashmiri leaders of all hues to further their own selfish interests.Had the Jammu leaders imitated their counterparts in the regions or the areas which now constitute the States of Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Uttrakhand, Chhattisgarh and Telangana and UT of Ladakh, things in Jammu would have been altogether different and Jammu province, the land of the proud Dogras, would have become one of the most prosperous and developed regions in the country. But that was not to be. It happened, despite the fact that situation in Jammu province was worse than what it prevailed in the regions like Himachal, Haryana, Jharkhand, Uttrakhand, Chhattisgarh and Telangana. In these regions, the issues which motivated and guided the local leaders included political neglect, discrimination and under-development. But in Jammu province, the major issues – apart from political neglect, discrimination and under-development – were the grave threat to the very survival and identity of the Dogras and the very political future of the Duggarland.It’s not a secret that the vested interests in Kashmir and their supporters in New Delhi had left no stone unturned to create in Jammu province a situation similar to the one which left the miniscule minority of Kashmiri Hindus to quit their land of Vitasta in January 1990 and become refugees in their own country. In other words, the causes of unrest and protest in Jammu province were deeper.It’s sad that the local leaders of Jammu province didn’t take cognizance of the deep-rooted conspiracies hatched by anti-Dogra elements on a daily-basis. They should also have taken into consideration the response of the HP leadership and suggestion of Karan Singh evoked in the 1960s. Karan Singh had suggested the separation of Jammu province from Kashmir and its merger with Himachal Pradesh, but the HP leadership rejected the idea outrightly, saying the merger of Jammu province with HP will jeopardise the interests of the Himachalis.It must remain a matter of deep concern that there are still politicians in Jammu who continue to tread the path of destruction by making common cause with those who destroyed Jammu, who marginalized Dogras, who exploited the natural resources of Jammu and who treated Jammu as Kashmir’s colony and Dogras as their slaves. They must refashion their whole approach to their own region and the people it houses, considering the fact that it’s Jammu which has defeated Jammu. The time has finally come to assert and establish that the Dogras of Jammu, who inhabit the great land between River Ravi and Pir Panjal since times immemorial, are the masters, and not the slaves. They must restore Jammu to its pristine glory and this would be possible only if it gets a definite political instrument invested with legislative, executive and financial powers. Nothing less nothing more.
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