View from Ladakh
What We Need Is A Balanced Approach
The artificially created State of Jammu and Kashmir comprising the three distinct and disparate regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh having managed to survive as an entity for over 150 years of turbulent and epochal changes has now entered the 21st century, slightly shaky but with a distinctly hopeful future, provided its subjects can avail themselves of the opportunities that a prosperous country presents them.
The recent past of the State can be broadly divided into the period of Dogra rule when the ruling Maharjas, creators of this artificial union, held sway for over 100 years to the time of Independence from British Rule in 1948 when the erstwhile rulers were faced with the choice of either joining the dominion of India or Pakistan. Accession by the Maharaja of this Muslim majority state to the union of India set in motion a chain of events which came to a head in the autumn of 1990 from which our state has still not recovered. Even though after accession to India, Kashmiris enjoyed an enviable position as the true inheritors of the Dogra rulers, ensured by the Govt of India’s anxiety over its failed promise of plebiscite, for the State, a certain feeling of disgruntlement remained in the hearts of the valley Kashmiris, who felt that they had been short - changed in the quest for deciding there own future. It seems to be a case of losing sight of the forest for the sake of the trees. Here is a situation in which the region which has been given control over the other two parts of the State is feeling aggrieved. Not to mention that the Dogras who created the State can now never hope to be at the helm of affairs in the State of their creation.
Ladakh which has a written history of over a thousand years as a substantial Kingdom, independent of Tibet in the east (China in this period was irrelevant as Tibet was not under its control.) and from the Kings of Kashmir in the west, also came about to be a district of Kashmir courtesy the conquest in 1834 by Zorawar Singh on behalf of his Dogra masters.
The piquancy of the situation or the irony of it can be judged from the position that the other two regions now find themselves in. Though there can be no denying that the valley has passed through horrendous times in the last 20 years with mass tragedies visiting it year upon year, yet one cannot help but wonder at the complexity of the problem in which the part that was playing the leading role now find itself mired in. If one is to take a realistic view of the State, it is clearly the regions of Jammu and Ladakh which are truly aggrieved. Both these provinces have seen innumerable agitations in the past in their drive for a fair share of power. Though in the valley, the demand was always for secession from the Union of India, and with active connivance from across the borders, in 1990 when deadly weapons arrived on the scene earlier agitations of the streets became pitched battles against police and Armed Forces, the regions of Jammu and Ladakh stayed well within the confines of the Indian Constitution in their search for identity and a greater say in their internal affairs. As a consequence of all round chaos prevailing in the State for over two decades now, the momentum that economic growth in the far - off region of Ladkah had gained, got derailed. This was a severe blow as the working season here is limited to barely six months in the year.
Whereas the turmoil that took over the valley had its reasons in political issues the discontent in Ladakh had always been due to a feeling of neglect in matter of development and a visible ignoring of its desire for a share in political power. This latter fact is glaringly obvious when one sees that from the period 1980 till 2002 i.e. over 22 years the vast and undeniably important strategic region was bereft of any effective power in matters of State by just the simple willful act of denying its elected representatives a berth in the cabinet. No doubt there have been deputy minister and ministers of state galore in these symbolic posts but in matters of administration the true worth of a region can only be determined by the number of cabinet ministers representing it in the states council of ministers.
A case in point is a representation given by late Pt. Jawhar Lal Nehru to Ladakh in parliament in the shape of a seat to represent the Buddhist community which then constituted the majority of the region. This was done in his wisdom as he felt that the composite state comprising Hindus, Muslims and a miniscule Buddhist population must be fully represented in the Supreme law making body of the country. But as the country went into a vigorous population control drive to which the Buddhist of Ladakh took up whole heartedly in the process of which the reduced themselves to a minority, this well intentioned move of giving them a seat became the bone of contention between the two major communities and instead of proving itself an asset it deteriorated into a destructive element for the centuries old religious forbearance for which the region was so well known. Party supporting Buddhist or Muslim candidates got painted as pro either this or that community and this image permeated into all other aspects of their existence.
While the weakness of our state could be the disparate nature of its constituent regions, this could also be turned into its strength. Who can doubt the importance that Ladakh region to the State by virtue of its being India’s only toe-hold into, for all practical purposes, central Asia which is gaining in importance day by day. The importance of Kashmir need not even be mentioned as it is the only Muslim majority state in the whole country and eyes of hundred of millions of Indian Muslims remain focused on how they are treated. Jammu as a centre for the religious sentiments of Hindus from all over the country has a historic significance. So with all these assets at hand the need of the hour is a balanced approach in dealing with them because as it is said “Justice must not only be done, it must also be seen to be done”.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 13 Oct 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 13 Oct 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 14 Oct 2011 00:00:00 IST
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