Indications are there that J&K State may see a new phase of transition in times ahead. All these years the political leadership that has been ruling at New Delhi remained occupied with Kashmir Centric approach. They have all along talked of development in the name of Kashmir or Kashmiri, employment prospects in the name of Kashmiri youth and so on. Programmes & statements made by the Prime Ministers and other Indian leaders of different times have been making more reference to Kashmir and Kashmiri people than it would refer to people of J&K. Ghulam Nabi Azad when took over as the Chief Minister in 2005 people of Jammu carried him on top as a CM from Jammu. But even Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad remained so much under pressure from the prevailing Kashmir centric political culture that he kept on making indirect efforts to even prove that he was more a Kashmiri. He often referred at occasion that he has been the student of SP College Srinagar, he rarely made any reference to a institution he studied in Jammu region. He even at occasions referred that his elders belonged to Kashmir Valley. Surely it was due to political compulsions before him . The approach had been total Kashmir centric as of the GOI and the Kashmiri leaders of the past. And to add to this the anti India activities and elements had been allowed to comfortably survive in the Kashmir Valley even after 1989.. The way Ghulam Nabi Azad handled the Amarnath Shrine land issue too speaks of the thinking that was prevailing.
Any one who talked of Jammu making reference to Jammu Province have been misquoted as referring to Jammu city or maximum Jammu District. of J&K. This way the people of districts other than Jammu District of Jammu province / region remained in illusion .
Recently more attempts have been made by the Kashmiri leadership to raise emotions of people of the districts of Udhampur, Kathua , Rajouri, Poonch and Doda against Jammu District . Not only this, the Kashmiri leadership is attempting a little further . After mid 1995 the Kashmiri leadership has started pretending to have more love and lust for the people of Rajouri, Doda and Poonch Distircts since they have reasonably large population of Muslims. But so far Kashmiri leaders have failed in their designs.
The people of Rajouri, Poonch and Doda are economically and educationally most backward. The road infrastructure and the tourism infrastructure is the poorest of the poor in these districts. Districts like Doda have so large a potential for commercial tourism that a tourist could so easily plan a stay of 15 days during summer months .Bhaderwah has been called the mini Kashmir . But nothing has been done to build infrastructure and conduct the tourist to these areas. The local horticulture has been totally neglected. No body knows about Apple of Doda / Kishtwar and Poonch Dsirticts. No body knows about Walnut of Doda district and other upper reaches of Jammu region.. Mr. A. R. Zargar the then Agriculture Minister had disclosed in the J&K Assembly that Kishtwar Kesar ( saffron ) could sell @ of Rs. 400 a unit as compared to Rs.250 per unit for Kashmir Kesar being superior. But hardly any tourist visiting J&K may be knowing that Kishtwar Kesar is of first quality . I had about two years back tried to collect the data on Kesar ( saffron ) production in Kishtwar from Director Agriculture but to my surprise it was not readily available.
This I have just quoted to negate the trueness of the affections Kashmiri leaders are showing for the people of Poonch, Rajouri and Doda Districts.Had the Kashmiri leaders any true love for the people of these areas then they should have not allowed the economic backwardness of these areas to keep growing over the years. Kashmiries are only trying to exploit the religious sentiments of Muslims of Jammu province. I doubt they would succeed. Even during times of Maharaja Hari Singh all the areas of Doda/ Rajouri/ Poonch/ Banihal were kept with Jammu Province due to socio - geographical priorities. Therefore the people of Jammu Region should understand the intentions of the Kashmiri people, more particularly the separatists. Jammu region as a whole has been denied its due share of seats ( MLAs ) in the legislative Assembly. But areas of Districts like DODA/ Kishtwar/ Ramban have been put to more disadvantage by the Kashmir centric rulers . Doda District has on date 4 to 5 seats less in the assembly than its due share. As per the J&K Representation of the People Act of 1957 the seats in the assembly are not to be provided only on the basis of population. J&K Representation of People Act of 1957 suggest five factor for deciding the distribution of MLAs in the assembly . The parameters under Section- 4, Sub Section –2 are Population, Geographical Compactness , :Nature of terrain , Facilities of Communication and the like considerations . The factors of Geographical Compactness , :Nature of terrain Facilities of Communication are surely more in favour of the Disticts of DODA, Poonch , Rajouri , Kathua and Udhampur in comparison to Distircts of Srinagar, Ananatnag, Pulwama ,Badgam .
Since the last Delimitation of Assembly Segments was done 1995 based on 1981 census I would discuss here only the data of those days ( although 8 more new districts of Ramban, Kishtwar Samba, Reasi, Bandipora, Shopian, Ganderbal and Kulgam were ordered in July 2006 ) . As per the Act Area / geographical compactness , the means of communication , nature of terrain are to be given due weightage so that the MLA is more near to his voters. Population as a parameter could contribute not more than 25% of the weigtage .To quote Area of erstwhile DODA district was11691 Sq kilometers and population as per 1981 census was 425662 and only 6 seats ( MLA ) in assembly were allocated . Where as the Anantnag District had area of only 3984 sq Km and population of 656351 but seats allocated were 10 . Pulwama had area of only 1398 sq km and population of 404078 where as seats allocated were 5. Badgam had a area of only 1371 sq km and population of 367267 km but here too seats allocated were 5. Srinagar District had an area of 2226 sq km and population of 708328 but was allocated 10 seats ( MLAs ). The % of area covered by roads in Jammu Region was just 18 % in 1981 where as in Kashmir Region it was 40%. The position for districts like DODA and Udhampur would have been much less than even 18% . Where as the area covered by roads in Districts like Pulwama, Badgam and Anantnag was surely around 40 % . The J&K Representation of People Act 1957 was designed in a very very special manner could well be seen from the contents of clauses a ( i) to a (v) of Sub Section ( 2) of section- (4) of this Act.
So far a MLA of nearness has been denied to the people of the far flung areas, to people with lesser means of connectivity and those living in geographically lesser compact areas. Such areas could fall more in Districts like Doda, , Rajouri, Poonch. In view of the terrains the MLAs are not able to regularly reach their areas to check the requirements and also to address to the problems. This clearly speaks of the injustice done to even these muslim majority Districts by the Kashmir centric Kashmiri leaders.
The data and details as would have been available to the K. K. Gupta Delimitation Commission in 1994-95 have been used above. Efforts need be made to get the corrections made atleast now .NO DOUBT a new Delimitation Commission can not be constituted till 2031 unless a Bill is passed in the J&K Assembly to undo the ban imposed by 29th Constitutional Amendment to Section 47 of J&K Constitution.
Mr. Abdul Rahim Rather had rightly asked on 9-01-08 that those who are talking of Delimitation Commission must first get a bill passed in this regard . But here also comes a question that who got the 29 th constitutional amendment passed. Surely it was the National Conference Government that had huge majority in the assembly. This way they have inflicted a permanent damage on the people of districts like Doda, Rajouri, Poonch, Ramban, Kathua , Reasi . It is a hard logic that unless the Kashmiri leadership/ GOI would have influenced a Delimitation Commission it is not possible that any delimitation commission would have done delimitation by totally neglecting the requirements of JK Representation of the People Act. Kashmiri leaders have hence sealed the fate of the people of Doda. Rajouri, Kishtwar, Ramban, Kathua, Reasi till 2031 unless the amendment to Section 47 of J&K Constitution through 29 th Constitutional amendment is undone. Under a fair delimitation the MLAs for Jammu region would be 45 to 46 and for Kashmir region it would be only 37 to 38. The seats that would increase would go more to the purse of Doda/ Kishtwar/Udhampur/Kathua/Reasi/Rajouri.
There are many in store to demonstrate the neglect the people of Jammu region have faced over last 50 years. So any love and care that the Kashmiri leaders are today pretending for the people of muslim dominated districts / areas of Jammu region are no more than exploiting sentiments on religious lines. They have ignored these areas for over 50 years. No doubt they have not succeeded yet but under the conditions prevailing will have to stand now more firmly so that they do not fall apart..
*(Daya Sagar is social activist and leading scribe on Kashmir affairs firstname.lastname@example.org)