Why is Jammu as unhappy as Srinagar? People grumbling that BJP left them in the lurch  

Even as the Union Territory witnesses ‘restricted’ campaigning for DCC election, people in both Jammu and Srinagar are unhappy

Why is Jammu as unhappy as Srinagar? People grumbling that BJP left them in the lurch  
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Anil Anand

Has partial abrogation of Article 370 and annulment of related Article 35A of the Constitution brought desired results in the Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir?

Have the resultant land laws notified by the Home Ministry on October 27 last, empowering every citizen of India to buy land in the UT without protecting the local’s rights further helped the cause for which the special provisions were removed?

The people outside the UT believe the oft-repeated political argument that it has brought the erstwhile state into the national mainstream. But a growing number of people even in Jammu see the development differently.

The sudden process to change the special status was followed by equally sudden measures including the new land laws without taking into account local interest or sentiment. Yes, the national interest is very important but so is the local interest. Both must complement each other.

The Kashmiris viewed the disruption brought about on August 5, 2019 as a “deceptive step and an incursion” whereas there was a wave of delight, though there is more than one views on this, in Jammu as people there saw it as a move to end the hegemony of Kashmiri leadership.

However, the turning point in Jammu is the new set of land laws. In the absence of any provision to safeguard the interests of the local populace over land issues and job security, questions are being raised whether the moves related to Article 370 have really benefitted them.

Suddenly there is an air of uncertainty about the utility of newly introduced “domicile certificates” to replace the earlier Permanent Resident Certificates (PRCs) which were being issued since the time of erstwhile Maharajas. It is so because the new land laws provide that anyone can purchase land in the UT whether having a domicile certificate or not. Barring verbal assurances, nothing has so far been done by the Centre on demands for job reservations for the locals.

Former Jammu Mayor, Mr Narender Singh asks, “where is the much promised Himachal Pradesh like land protection? Where is the reservation of jobs for the locals?Compare this to the job reservation being provided by some of the BJP ruled states such as Haryana, Uttarakhand etc. What is the fault of people of Jammu?”

There is a strong sentiment for returning to statehood both in Jammu and Kashmir. There is a sense of betrayal on this count in the entire UT. The recent assurance by Home Minister, Mr Amit Shah on return to statehood ostensibly comes in this backdrop.“A lollypop” was how BJP insiders in Jammu described the earlier dilution of Article 370 vis-a-vis the new land laws.

There is fear that ultimately Jammu would become the dumping ground and pressure would increase on the local people. It will lead to reverse migration as people from outside the UT would dominate the scene if protective measures are not taken, is the common refrain.

Many of the factories have already closed as they are unable to compete with products coming from other parts of the country which have become cheaper after removal of toll tax on imports. “The Government must protect local trade and industry,” a local industrialist said.

The piecemeal approach of the Government in dealing with the earlier domicile laws and new provisions has added to the confusion. The point in contention is the issuance of new domicile certificate being issued in place of the earlier PRC. It seems to have lost its significance after new land rules. People stood in queues for hours and in many cases had to use other means to procure the certificates. Suddenly the certificates no longer seem to have much value.

A mainstream had emerged in J & K but this has been demolished and local pride hurt due to breaking of the state, felt former Director General of Tourism, Mr Salim Beg.“Kashmiris feel that they are now subjects and not citizens,” he observed.

In the backdrop of this uncertain situation come the District Development Council (DDC) elections to complete the three tiers of Panchyati Raj. Although all political parties including the partners in the Gupkar Declaration are taking part in it, the hearts and minds of the people are focused on issues of bread and butter.

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Published: 22 Nov 2020, 1:15 PM
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