Cabinet Minister and the senior PDP leader Choudhary Zulfikar Ali Tuesday said Muslims in Jammu region have been facing discrimination since 1947.
Answering a question whether PDP has succumbed before its alliance partner BJP, Zulfikar said, "If that would have been the case, I would have never raised my voice against the discrimination that people of Chenab Valley face. When you demand something from New Delhi in the name of Jammu province, then give due share to the Poonch, Rajouri, Doda, Bhaderwah where Muslims reside in large numbers. Why you give everything to Jammu and think that it is only comprised of two districts. Jammu province comprises 10 districts in which Poonch and Rajouri are the most neglected. It is not compulsory to open everything in Jammu district as there are other districts which need to be given justice," Ali said.
Choudhary Zulfikar Ali, who is the Minister for CA&PD, admitted the Muslims in Jammu have been facing discrimination.
"I was vocal during a district development board meeting and in presence of BJP representatives I demanded a separate province for the Pir-Panjal region. If Government of India is not able to deliver justice and doesn't believe in equitable development then it must create a separate province for Pir-Panjal people," he said.
Holding National Conference directly responsible for the backwardness and the present condition of the Muslims living in Jammu Division, the Minister said that NC took Jammu Muslims for-granted as the party believed that these people will always vote for NC. "Nobody can deny this fact that it was National Conference that appeased the Hindu population of Jammu. This appeasement policy of NC towards Jammu Hindus took a toll on the Muslim population," he said.
"Nobody can evict the Muslim nomads from the forest land which they have been using from centuries. PDP took strong note of the drive started by forest department against the nomad gujjars in Jammu and stopped it immediately. Forest Department had started this anti-encroachment drive in the interest of the public, but unfortunately, the big fish were spared and poor and hapless gujjars were targeted," he said.
A day after government allowed Dangal Management Committee to hold annual Shinj (wrestling match) at a local Muslim graveyard in Bagh Jogian village in Bishnah tehsil of Jammu district, Zulfikar said that it is an old practice in the village and every year the same piece of land is being used for the event.
"Why people didn't come to know about it and why they didn't they react when every year during National Conference-Congress coalition government this wrestling match was organized with much pomp and show. Today some people have started to react just because PDP is at the helm of affairs and running the state with the help of Bhartiya Janata Party," Zulfikar Ali said. CNS