J&K: the political agenda

These occasional voices largely a part of tailored parallel narrative never ever assumed proportions of a sustained voice in Leh.
J&K: the political agenda
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The cat is finally out of the bag, with BJP openly claiming that gubernatorial administration is fulfilling the party's agenda of development. Avinash Rai Khanna, national vice-president of BJP and in-charge J&K left no one in any doubt on the ongoing events, while speaking to reporters. "Governor Sahib is doing a commendable job by taking forward our party's agenda of development in the state," Khanna was quoted to have said. Agenda of the development, which the BJP likes to, call 'Vikas' encompasses much more than an economic agenda. It is a divisive agenda, based on communal and caste considerations.

 Avinash Rai Khanna lauded Governor Satya Pal Malik for according divisional status to Ladakh. Khanna said divisional status to Ladakh was a demand that existed since the country's independence. It may be noted that Ladakh apart from district of Leh includes district of Kargil. For many years, post 1947 Leh was the district headquarter, and Kargil its subdivision. There were occasional voices in Leh opting for union territory status, accusing state administration of discrimination. Such voices also emanated from some districts of Jammu. The cacophony of tailored concerns was in effect an effort to build a parallel narrative to the predominant sentiment of the overwhelming majority of the state. The majority vying for a peaceful and lasting resolution of conflict ridden state was sought to be checkmated by the parallel narrative. It helped the state, opting for maintenance of status quo.

 Ladakh opting for a divisional status since independence, as BJP vice-president– Avinash Rai Khanna implies was hardly ever heard, though some voices from Leh did emanate calling for union territory status. These occasional voices largely a part of tailored parallel narrative never ever assumed proportions of a sustained voice in Leh. It was far from being a mass movement. And, the occasional voice from Leh did not find resonance in Kargil. The tailored parallel narrative unfortunately had communal overtones undermining the Muslim majoritarian status of the state. It recurred despite the claim that Muslim majority J&K state had opted to accede to India. The unfortunate undercurrents of Buddhist majority Ladakh and Degras of Jammu resenting majoritarian sentiment poisoned the body politic of the state. It continued over long years, in spite of the fact J&K ruling regimes alleged to be Kashmir dominated were in tune with powers that be in Delhi.

The voices from Ladakh made out to be expressed concerns of Buddhist majority may be weighed in its demographic profile.  As per 2011 census, Buddhists in Ladakh number 108761 compared to 118732 Muslims. This is the census of Leh and Kargil districts combined, and this makes out that total Muslim population in the twin district holds a slight edge over Buddhists.   Hindus account for 33223, Christians 1190, Sikhs 2193, Jain 131, other religions 58 and with no stated religion 1295. Out of 108761 total Buddhists, 88635 reside in district Leh while 20126 reside in district Kargil.  Out of 118732 Muslims, 108239 live in Kargil district and 19057 in Leh district. In spite of the stated demographic profile, Ladakh in popular imagination has been built as a Buddhist dominated region. Kargil district was carved out of Leh based district Ladakh in July 1979. Kargil lagged behind in infrastructural development, in social welfare indices including educational progress and health care. It is only over last two or three decades that Kargil is catching up, and it has developed a voice that is being increasingly heard. While as Leh was granted Ladakh autonomous hill developmental council—an elected body during a long phase of gubernatorial rule in 1995, Kargil was granted a similar council eight years later in 2003.  On February 8th during another phase of gubernatorial rule, Kargil was again subjected to administrative control of Leh based Ladakh division.  Given the past experience of Leh based administrative control, Kargil objected vigorously.

It is clear that Governor Satya Pal Malik is working on an agenda, which BJP wants implemented for electoral gains. In another decision during the week, the gubernatorial administration has approved 3 percent reservation for people living on international border (IB) in districts of Kathua, Samba and Jammu. It is made out to be a reservation at par with people living on LoC in Poonch and Rajouri, Baramulla, Kupwara Kargil and Leh districts in `ALC Category'. There are obvious flaws in the decision. LoC districts are far flung areas, while Kathua, Samba and Jammu are centrally located. It would be interesting to compare the developmental graph of Kathua, Samba and Jammu with LoC districts. If development 'Vikas' is the only consideration, Governor led state administrative council (SAC) should have taken a close look at the comparative developmental graph of LoC and IB residents before taking the call.

The latest addition to the reserved category puts the majority in the state at an obvious disadvantage, as scores in the majority bracket of state's population do not fit in anyone of the reserved categories. Apart from the latest addition of 3 percent for IB residents, there is 8 percent for Scheduled Castes (SCs) 10 percent for Scheduled Tribes (STs) 20 percent for Resident of Backward Areas (RBA) 2 percent for Other Social Castes (OSCs) and 3 percent for Paharis' totaling 46 percent. And, if news-reports are to be believed, there is going to be an additional 10 percent reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) among the upper castes. The grapevine has it that the call might be taken before imposition of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by the Election Commission of India (ECI) for the Lok Sabha elections, taking reservations to whooping 56 percent. Where does it leave the overwhelming majority is anybody's guess?

Yaar Zinda, Sohbat [Reunion is subordinate to survival]

iqbal.javid46@gmail.com

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