M. M. Khajooria
For too long we have been pleading and complaining to Rulers in Srinagar and Delhi against injustice being done to us. These mostly fell on deaf ears. They not only treated our supplications with unconcealed contempt but added insult to injury by throwing some crumbs in our begging bowl. Our exertions were largely confined to blaming others .Two questions haunt me, why was this happening? How did we let this happen?One of the many tragedies of Jammu public life is that the political and civil society bigwigs are deeply infected by persecution complex. Their complaints/ pleadings revolved around injustices done to them by others. They seldom did their home work and presentations were meek, loud and repetitive, The reports of Gajinder Gadkar and other Inquiry Commissions testify to this fact.Late Vaid Vishnu Dutt once narrated an embarrassing experience. At the point of termination of his meeting with PM Vajpayee, he realized that the PM was about to call it a day. As he had noticed some Party leaders from Jammu waiting outside, he requested Vajpayee to spare some time for the delegation from Jammu. Vajpayee’s response was uncharacteristically negative. “Vaid ji,” he said, “Shavna Karein, Aaj Mujh Mein Rouna, Dhoona Sunanay Shamta Nahi Hai”. “This response stunned me”, he sadly pointed out Vajpayee was by nature a polite gentleman and has deep attachment with Jammu and local party cadres. .During his numerous visits to Jammu, he stayed with Late Sham Lal Sharma and Shakti Sharma in their house in Down Town and roamed in the narrow streets of Jammu with abandon.Whimpering and breast beating does not behoove Dogras, rated by military historian as-‘-the Hillman, a fighter par excellence’. We are proud inheritors of a great warrior tradition.It may also be pertinent to point out that according to psychologists those who habitually blame others for all their problems end up handing over their ‘remote’ to the perceived ‘tormentors’ with predictable disastrous consequences. Isn’t this exactly the route we have taken since independence? This is the time to look inwards.None of us enjoys the luxury of doing violence to the glory of our ancestors, act contrary to hallowed traditions painted in their sacred blood and shame ours as well as the coming generations. We must wake up and re-discover and assert our real identity. Let us stand up ramrod straight and demand to be counted, whatever be the consequences. Now, how does it translate into action. Firstly. Stop clinging to the apron strings of Delhi, whose only undoubted priority is Kashmir – an issue they have bungled and continue to do so with rare consistency and determination. To woe the Kashmir political class and ‘win over’ enemies of Indian state they will go to any extent. Sacrificing interests of Jammu is for them a very small price to pay. This truth has come to fore on too many occasions to merit any illustration. Always remember, when the chips are down, you are on your own. No one from Delhi will or has ever come to your rescue. Syama Prasad Mukherjee was the only honorable exception. But that was longtime ago. And look, how his so called ‘ardent followers’ buried his legacy via the Agenda of Alliance signed with ‘anti nation PDP’ just to gate crash into seat of power. Secondly.Jammu has been exploited too long and its genuine interests sacrificed too frequently at the alter of ‘national interests’. Let it be known to all and sundry that Jammu has gained political maturity. Now we are capable of determining what is the real ‘National interest’. To serve that we will be found ready to offer any sacrifice, but that will be our determination and our measure. Thirdly. We are as good stake holders in all matters concerning the present and future of Jammu and Kashmir as the others identified as such. And we shall speak for ourselves. No one, repeat no one, holds any ‘power of attorney’ in the matter on our behalf.We shall no more be used as bargaining chips or sacrificial goats. Fourthly, let central leaders and GoI big-wigs stop using Jammu as a door-mat to wipe the dirt from Delhi to enter the fabulously furnished drawing room called Kashmir to hold ‘parleys’ which more often than not lack sincerity and seriousness. I took this position for the first time in an international conference in Srinagar in which eminent representatives from Pakistan and PoJK also participated. The high and mighty attitude of some delegates from Kashmir and slavish posturing by one from Jammu provoked me to burst out what was building up inside me for years. Interestingly, many delegates from PoJK privately applauded the position I had taken. Apparently their experience with Punjabi elite was no different. I have repeated this postulation on numerous occasions.Many other friends have done likewise, but sadly the mindsets remain frozen. This has to change and change now. Of course, there are problems and issues between us and our Kashmiri counterparts. These, in my opinion, can and need to be resolved through open, hearted, frank, sincere and sustained engagement bereft of any intermediary. There are good and sound reasons for my optimism. For instance, we both have vested interest, may be for different reasons to maintain integrity of the composite state and keeping intact the integrity of the recognized regions. Economically also, Jammu and Kashmir are inter-dependent. Kashmir is starved of agricultural land and therefore unable to produce enough food grains to feed itspopulation.We not only have enough but even at the current sub-standard level of our agriculture and gross neglect of scarce irrigation resources manage to produce more than our requirements and indeed export not only rice but also vegetables to the valley.All their mutton, chicken and eggs are transported though Jammu. In fact, Jammu has the potential to meet all such demands of Kashmir, if there were a government serious, sincere and capable of planning and efficiently executed planned production of poultry and nurturing of goats and sheep in Kandi area of Jammu.This will enable us to shed dependence on Rajasthan. In fact, if between Jammu and Kashmir, things turn out as these should, more paddy land in Kashmir could be dedicated to growing fruits, the requirement for rice being met by Jammu. Such instances of inter-dependence can be multiplied.In short, a deep though invisible thread of mutual understanding, commonalty of interests and beliefs connect civil societies of Jammu and Kashmir, vagaries of politics and emergence of separatism / terrorism notwithstanding. Despite all the fury and thunder of Wahhabbisation and significant dents it has made, vast majority of Muslims in Kashmir remain firmly committed to secular, plural and harmonious ethos represented by the ‘Etqadi’ faith. Similarly, the commitment of vast majority of people of Jammu region to an inclusive, harmonious and humane social order remains unshaken. This needs to be assiduously worked upon by civil society leaders on both sides of Pir Panchal willing to and capable of getting down to the task of consolidating the partnership based on mutual respect, equitable development, fair play andjustice.The external dimension of ‘the Kashmir Issue’ is best left to the two countries to settle. Even those shouting ‘Azadi’ from housetops should calm down after their patron Pakistan has categorically asserted that Azadi was no option. Let intellectuals, civil society leaders and rulers ensconced in Delhi as well as national opposition ponder.
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