Events like imparting arms training to youth, boys as well as girls, held by rank communal groups like the VHP/RSS in Jammu is cause for grave concern. What makes matters worse is that this training, which reportedly included rifle-shooting, was conducted in educational institutions, including the Jammu University. One would presume that Jammu is still part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and that the government is not the equivalent of the pot-bellied beat constable, lazily waving away a minor infringement on the street. Assuming the government is aware, the question that arises is why this is allowed to happen. There are three immediate contexts to this; one, the historical role of communalism in Jammu, two, the situation in India after the Modi regime took over, and last but not least, the compulsive acquiescence of the PDP-led dispensation, like successive governments in the state, with such communalism in Jammu.
Jammu was the seat of the de facto Hindutva Dogra regime which lorded over Kashmiris. One of the worst massacres of Muslims during the partition of India, often also called the ‘forgotten massacre’, was undertaken here. This political climate meant a dovetailing between ostensibly opposed parties like the Congress and the BJP (and even its earlier Jan Sangh avatar), and therefore a prominent role for the RSS and other branches of the Hindutva Parivar. This milieu has been further expanded, given the wider, more brazen activities of the so-called ‘hardline’ Hindutva groups after Modi’s ascension. The strategy usually employed is that the BJP seeks to posit a gap between itself and its mother-lode, the RSS, while allowing other affiliate groups like the VHP and the Bajrang Dal, whose cadre function as storm-troopers, to increase their profile and activities. Successive state governments, on their part, have allowed this interplay in Jammu division, in full awareness of its consequences, even as the bogey of Islamism is played up in the Valley and events like the recent brutal clampdown on protesting students in Kashmir University are hailed as necessary for administrative order.
This has twin effects: one, the manifest danger of trained and armed fascist elements ready to ‘act’ in Jammu, given the right situation and a nod, and, two, the inevitable reaction within the Valley – and the larger Muslim population of the state – against this manifest threat. This rupture within the state polity also does suit the political masters, but is yet an invitation to violence and strife.