Monday, September 1, 2008

Is It Really Communal???

The weeks-old turmoil in Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir was finally, and hopefully, laid to rest yesterday with the protestors and the government agreeing to some solution. However, the outcome of these protests is far-reaching as new loyalties have been formed and old ties forsaken. Being a resident of Jammu and Kashmir and born and brought up in Jammu region, I feel more of a Jammuite than a Kashmiri, although by birth I am a Kashmiri Pandit (somehow, I really dont have any faith in any particular religion or community, humanity should suffice for all the religions of the world, I think!!).
However, during the 60 days of curfew, killings, strikes, civil disobedience movement and public protests, I was forced to think as to where do I really belong?
Do I belong to Kashmir or Jammu? I know the question would be troubling a lot of other KP men and women just like me, because, if truth be told, there is no land that we can really call our own, as of now. So, where do we really belong to?
The question is unsettling but, the answer is still nowhere close by. It might take time for the answers to arrive, so meanwhile, I go by the city that has made me what I am and that is Jammu.
Speaking on behalf of people of Jammu, I can vouch for the fact that they are an unpretentious lot, who believe in working hard and earning their due from life.
In the peak years of militancy in Kashmir, I was studying in high school during those days, there were many instances wherein militants tried to foment trouble in Jammu and its adjoining regions as well. But the peace and tranquility of the city remained safe in the hands of the peace-loving Jammuites.
When more than four lakh KPs migrated from their ancestral land, most of them, (at least for the initial years) found refuge in Jammu and its outskirts. There were a few skirmishes regarding the clashes between the KP migrants and local population here and there, but the overall scenario remained peaceful and KPs found a favourable environment to thrive in in Jammu region.
During the following years (between 1990 and 2000), the KPs became a part and parcel of the public life in Jammu, so much so that in the company of KP kids, who were known for their inclination towards studies, the Jammuites also found their benchmark in education and started setting new targets for themselves. The economy also received a boost as there were more people to purchase goods in the markets, more people building homes for themselves and more marriages taking place.
Moreover, even with Kashmir continuing to burn for the next decade, Jammu continued to go about its business peacefully. However, that changed in June 2008, with the government revoking the land transfer order, earlier passed in favour of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board.
The Jammuites, who had, during all these years since partition, kept the flag of nationalism fluttering despite all storms raging around them, were forced to come out on streets and make their anguish known throughout the country.
I ask you, the readers, were they not justified in raising their voice against 60 years of discrimination against the politicians, who kept exploiting them at the drop of hat? How justified is Article 370 which prevents other Indians from entering the state of Jammu and Kashmir and buying land or other property there while the Jammu and Kashmir people can do so at will in rest of the country?
These are a few questions which might bring the answer to the present turmoil, which is far from over, though, it might have receded for time being.....