We must not divide the state in the name of establishing Autonomous Regional Councils
The fractured mandate which has caused delay in the formation of the J&K government has given rise to divisive forces inimical to the unity of the three regions which are the basic constituents of J&K state.
Now a days many voices are heard from the leaders of various political parties for dividing the state in the name so called autonomous regions and sub regions or having Jammu CM for Jammu Pradesh. Actually it was during previous coalition government of NC and INC that a Congress minister floated an idea for having CM from Jammu.
The idea got strengthened with the emergence of BJP who got verdict from the people of Jammu in recent Assembly election. To give further boost to the idea, recently the various organizations in Jammu also formed a united front namely Jammu Pradesh United Front (JPUF) with Ex MLA of Panthers Party as its convener.
Besides other demands, the main slogan of this front is to have Chief Minister from Jammu. The proposal forwarded by the provincial president of N.C for having regional and sub regional councils does not carry weight except giving push to the ideas of JPUF.
So far as the devolution of powers is concerned Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah had already done this by introducing a concept of single line administration and creating district development boards in each districts to give representation to members of the local bodies and other sections of the people who matter in framing the policies for the development of their areas.
Since then the district board meetings are regularly held to discuss the annual district plan and its implementation. Now-a-days the concerned MLAs and MPs are also allotted constituency funds for the development of their areas. It is also a pity to learn that a senior leader of PDP has also joined the bandwagon of the BJP.
The dogra leaders proved to be more patriotic than some of the present leaders of the regional political parties.
We may not ignore the contribution made by Mahraja Gulab Singh in consolidating and bringing the various regions of the state into one unifying unit which included areas of PoK, Gilgit and Askardu.
These regions have already been lost to the neighboring country in 1947 and the forces inimical to the unity of the J&K are still hell bent on dividing and changing the geographical character of the remaining parts of the state.
The Dogra rulers had definitely great love for the state as it was Mahraja Hari Singh who had enacted the permanent residency act and introduced PRC for the residents of the J&K with a view to preserve the ecology, environment and the abundant reserves of the natural resources of the state as otherwise the inflow of the population from outside could have caused much damage.
The credit also goes to Dogra rulers who had played an important role in maintaining the pristine glory of famous Dal lake and had preserved the reserves of green gold in the shape of thick forest during their period of rule. But after 1947 the healthy picture of these natural resources have been reversed.
One really feels sad to see the present poor condition of the forests which used to be once rich. The area of the Dal Lake has not only been squeezed in length and breadth but its waters and surroundings have also been polluted with the dawn of the democratic set up in the state after 1947.
The leaders of the Jammu must be having some genuine grievances against the previous governments regarding discrimination against Jammu region but that does not mean that they will encourage the divisive forces at the cost of the unity of the state.
Even some leaders of Jammu who were the part of NC and INC coalition government are also raising similar slogans. There is a need for constitution of an independent commission under the chairmanship of a retired Judge of the apex court to look into the grievances of the Jammu people if any for the period since 1990.
The creation of Hill Council for Ladakh and Kargil were justifiable as these districts mostly remain cut off from the state capital for more than six months during winter.
The people of the valley and Jammu are mostly interdependent. Kashmir being land locked area, has to depend on the up keep of NHW which is the only and important communication link connecting Jammu.
Similarly the people of Kashmir with high purchasing power provides the best consumer market for Jammu traders. The development of all the regions lies in keeping the state integrated as one unit. There is therefore no need of changing the demographic and geographical character of the state by creating regional and sub regional councils and raising divisive slogans.
There is every apprehension that present situation created by the inordinate delay in formation of the government can lead to the similar situation as we had experienced in the year 2008 which may prove detrimental for the development and security of the state.
In case there is no chance of forging any coalition between the two leading political parties then there is no alternative but to go to the people again to seek their fresh mandate.
(Abdul Rashid Khan is IGP(rtd) hailing from Rawalpora- Srinagar)