Jammu Bandh for AIIMS …….. much ado about nothing

As PDP and BJP stand coalesced for nothing but lust for power, NC with Congress join other Parivar formations—VHP, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena in agitating for Jammu AIIMS. There is a sugar coating however, if Kashmir gets AIIMS, why not Jammu? Indeed a voice for restoring parity may sound sane. To make it sound sweet, AR Rather leading NC delegation to Governor Vohra stated, “we support AIIMS for Kashmir, but not at the cost of Jammu’. It raises a query however, why didn’t either NC or the Congress agitate for providing Indian Institute for Management [IIM] and Indian Institute of Technology [IIT] for Kashmir, as it was announced for Jammu? Why didn’t NC stalwarts rush to gubernatorial premises and state, we support IIM and IIT for Jammu, but not at the cost of Kashmir? 

Congress might be condoned; it has a token presence in Kashmir. NC on the contrary claims a Kashmir base. An odd seat or two in two and half Jammu districts arc may not be put in NC kitty. Omar buddy Narendra Rana’s win had related factors—weak BJP candidate and Rana’s own push. One swallow does not a spring make. From Omar’s grandpa—Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah to Omar, it has been a hostile territory, the narrative tailored decades back by Praja Parishad stays. It had SMA cooling his heels in prison for 22 years. NC rush to Governor to turn the tide is an investment with no returns. 

NC may do whatever it may, what concerns the valleyites, in fact cross Pir Panchal territories-Valley, Chenab Basin and Pir Panchal is the virtual monopoly of funds and resources by two and half plain districts. If it were not a fact, how is it that Jammu district topped the list on developmental index, while Pooch rated the lowest? This is not a heresy, but the report of an official survey of JK State. It is high time that an impartial judicial commission probes district-wise division of funds and the utilization of state resources. Or, government publishes a ‘White Paper’ based on official records, setting aside the provincial distribution, while outlining district-wise fund allocations. 

Provincial developmental indices may not relate the tale of how great has been the suffering of Chenab Basin and Pir Panchal. Jammu at the top and Poonch touching the nadir relates a tale of grab. Much more than the regional disparity, it is the sub-regional disparity that is hurting JK State. While hilly districts with difficult accessibility should have had the prime developmental priority, the plains with easy accessibility have had the monopoly. Political monopoly has had an economic windfall. Mere look at the cabinet formations of PDP-Congress combine, NC-Congress combine, and the present PDP-BJP formation conveys the monopoly trail. Markedly low representation of Chenab Basin and Pir Panchal has resulted in virtual failure to create a voice in power corridors. And it needs to be addressed, as much as the lower priority that the valley is accorded. 

There are wider questions, why do proposals to link the Kashmir Valley with Chenab Basin and Pir Panchal get shelved? Mughal road took ages to materialize. To make it all weather road is a much greater possibility than what is called the National Highway—which stays as one that cannot stand even a minor rainfall. As it stands, how and why it gets a priority while repeated pleas to allocate funds for making Mughal road an all weather road remain unanswered? How and why is the proposed ease of access between south of valley and Chenab Basin getting step-motherly treatment? A decade back, constructing a tunnel was estimated to cost 200 crores. The hype over it sank faster than the rise. Not much is heard of it. It had the potential of linking some of the most backward areas of Chenab Basin to valley. The needful however didn’t materialize. Is it a case of denying valley access to Pir Panchal and Chenab Basin for political reasons, though it hardly makes economic sense? Kuch Tou Hai Jis Ki Pardah Dari Hai (there is much more to it than meets the eye). Kashmir is not merely the vale, it encompasses cross Pir Panchal Kashmiri speaking territories. 

AIIMS for Kashmir makes sense, given the in-accessibility during hard winter months. Jammu on the contrary has easy access to plains of India. It may not be taken to mean that Jammu has no need for AIIMS like institute. If parity down to decimal is the slogan, why should Kashmir be denied the skill development that IIM and IIT promise? Or, did allocation of 1000 crores additional assistance to Jammu and Ladakh deduced from districts of Kashmir make sense, post the gruesome 2010 killing of 127 boys in the valley? Especially in a situation, when months of curfew had resulted in economy of wailing vale touching the nadir. 

Kashmir stays low on Industrial map—almost a non-existent entity. Should that entail restoration of imbalance or 95 percent share of central industrial package to enterprises in two Jammu districts, as was done in 2002? The figure was revealed by central consultancy. How and why did NC and PDP, regional mainstream outfit voices remain mute? Power matters, not the people! 

Yaar Zinda Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]