It seems that the National Conference’s euphoria has evaporated within a few days of the announcement of new administrative units in Jammu and Kashmir. Additional General Secretary of the NC, the son of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, Dr Mustafa Kamal, has gone to the extent of saying that this was the party’s second greatest achievement after its Land to the Tiller of the early fifties. Other party functionaries have taken their cue and begun issuing statements that the Congress Party was trying to take undue credit for what had just been achieved.
The Congress is equally, but rightly, euphoric in claiming victory, a victory against the Kashmiri people and in favor of Jammu and Ladakh. Still, people from different areas of Kashmir have been going to the winter capital to congratulate Omar Abdullah. This is nothing but more proof of the fact that Kashmiri society is fragmented, and that it views self- interest as supreme.
The devil is actually in the details, and as one goes through them, the emerging grim picture does not leave one much to celebrate about. The Cabinet Sub Committee recommendations have been pushed through in a very short span of time. This suggests a plan. Out of the total 659 units cleared by the Cabinet, 337 have gone to Jammu, 274 to Kashmir and 48 to Ladakh.
Analysed population-wise, the decision is a gross injustice to Kashmir. Kashmir has a population of 69, 70, 623, Jammu 53, 50, 811 and Ladakh a mere 2,90,492 – that the recommendations are unjust is clear. In Ladakh, one village was proposed by the BJP and another by the Congress, and both ended up getting the status they demanded. Similarly, in Kargil, one village was proposed by the NC and another by the Congress, and both got through. In Jammu, almost nothing remains pending on this score.
One wonders what the parameters and standards to grant administrative status have been. Omar Abdullah pushed for the “second greatest success” when he told masters in New Delhi that their (NC’s) sworn enemies, jani dushman, were in Pakistan. It implied that his best friends were in New Delhi and that they should allow him to create the new units, which actually were a great administrative and political boon for Jammu and Ladakh.
Since Leh hs for long identified its interests inversely with Kashmir, so Jammu and Leh form one political bloc. The creation of an unprecedented number of administrative units has paved a sure way of transfer from Kashmir to Jammu. Because, the next logical demand would be for creating more assembly constituencies in the Jammu region.
With this strong administrative vantage, the creation of more assembly segments in Jammu is just a matter of time. To be fair, the Jammuites never expected that they would get such a huge bounty on a platter, and so swiftly
They should really salute the political acumen of their political leadership.
This is a story of political failure, a historic one, which shall further, and irrevocably disempower Kashmiris. Probably, such a step fraught with consequences for Kashmiris has never been taken.
Omer Abdullah and his cabinet colleagues simply signed on the dotted line for their own petty self-and-political interest. People in distant areas and villages may be dancing but the conscious class of the Kashmir society is crestfallen with this historic defeat and disempowerment inflicted on them on such a large scale.
The Congress leaders from Kashmir and leaders of the PDP understand this, but seen tongue-tied because of their political interests in Jammu. Not for nothing have the “sharnarthis,” the refugees from West Pakistan, been encouraged to meet the great man, that is, CM Omar Abdullah.
They think that their historic moment has come. They have already covered more than half their distance.
When the National Conference came to power in 1947, many in Jammu were burning with anger within a year that the power shift had taken place from Jammu to Kashmir. Within a few years, in 1952, they launched a powerful, violent movement under the Praja Parishad against ‘Kashmir Raj.’ After that, incessant ‘Kashmir Raj’ propaganda has been the main ideological and political plank on which the core of the political edifice of Jammu rests. Now they should rest assured that the scales have tilted, in a historic way.
With its 337 new administrative units, plus the 48 for Ladakh, against 274 for Kashmir, the administrative base of power has been shifted to Jammu. It is not just that reason and logic have been ignored, but also that it was done with such ease. The self-created image of the National Conference as the nationalist party of Kashmir has vanished. The party is so soft, collaborative, and self-defeating that its other “big” demands seem to be a joke.
When historic forces have been created, their advance cannot be stopped. Jammu has appropriated both history and power. This is the bitter truth, and must be admitted because Kashmiri nationalists have finally handed over the baton.