|Early Times Report|
JAMMU, May 19: The people of Jammu were hoping that Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Mata Vaishno Devi and RS Pura would address the issues facing the alienated people of Jammu, but, sadly, it didn't happen.
He didn't speak even on one issue facing by them. The people of Jammu had several demands, but their immediate demands were five.
One, they wanted the Prime Minister to speak on the PDP-BJP alliance and its adverse impact on the people of Jammu. The people of Jammu province never felt so abandoned as they had been feeling since March 1, 2015, when the BJP became part of the state government for the first time. Their hope was based on the premise that it was they who gave the marginal BJP a status by returning to the assembly 25 members and two to the Lok Sabha.
Two, they wanted him to announce citizenship rights to the Hindu-Sikh refugees from Pakistan living in Jammu since 1947, as they constituted the only social group in the country which do not have any citizenship right, not even the right to lead a dignified life and vote. The hapless refugees entertained the belief that the Prime Minister would surely address their issue, as he and the BJP had assured them umpteen times that, if voted to power, they would redress their grievances.
Three, they wanted the Prime Minister to address their concerns vis-à-vis illegal settlement of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis near military installations, Jammu's high hills, along national highway, under the bridges and flyovers, railway station, airport and at other sensitive places. They had been agitating since months demanding their deportation and saying that they constituted a grave threat not only to Jammu security and Jammu demography but also to the national security. Four, they wanted him to say a word on the plight of the daughters of the state as they didn't enjoy equal status with the state's male subjects. The daughters of the state, who are married outside the state to non-state subjects, have been facing discrimination of worst form. Their children and spouses cannot enjoy any citizenship right in the state under Article 35-A, which was inserted in the Constitution of India in the form of an appendix on May 14, 1954 without taking the Parliament into confidence or without invoking Article 368 of the Constitution.
Five, they were of the view that the Prime Minister would address the 70-year-old issue of discrimination with them and direct the state government to formulate and implement a new policy that treated all the three regions of the state equally in all spheres.
The people of Jammu never got their due share in the state's political and democratic processes, in the government, in the secretariat, in the job sector, in infrastructural development, in technical and professional institutions. In fact, they were always treated as second grade subjects unfit for the rights their fellow citizens enjoyed in Kashmir.
However, none of these issues were addressed by the Prime Minister. Instead, in Srinagar, he sung the Kashmiriyat song and defended unilateral ceasefire and asserted that the PDP-BJP government was bring the Kashmiri youth to the mainstream.
"I, like Vajpayee, am an admirer of Kashmiriyat," he among other things, said in Kashmir. In Ladakh, he didn't talk about the Ladakhi demand for UT status.
He did hail 19th Kushak Bakola Rinpoche and his role and contribution but didn't say a word about what Rinpoche had done for decades to obtain separation from Kashmir and obtain the UT status for Ladakh. Of course, the PM said that there was no medical college in Ladakh but instead of announcing one, he said he would talk to authorities in J&K and New Delhi. Contrarily, in Kashmir, he said the process to recruit 5000 youth in J&K police would be soon completed.
It was obvious that the local leadership had not briefed the Prime Minister. Had the local leadership taken up the Jammu cause like the leadership in Kashmir takes up on a daily-basis, the Prime Minister would have surely spoken for Jammu and the problems its people had been facing since 1947. It is not the Prime Minister who failed Jammu; it was the local BJP leadership which again squandered the opportunity and failed their own constituency.