October 2000 News

Hindus press for Trifurcation of Jammu & Kashmir

8 October 2000
The Asian Age
Yusuf Jameel

Srinagar: There is a growing feeling among Hindus of Jammu region that a separate state for them would be in their best interests and a range of political and social groups have joined hands to work for this, thus supporting the idea of the trifurcation of existing Jammu and Kashmir. There is nothing new in the idea of a separate state for the Jammu region. But the past quarter of a century has brought significant change in the attitude and approach of the people of the region which is deviating from its original Dogra identity. The region is divided on the issue on communal lines. The Hindu dominated parts of Jammu, Kathua and parts of Udhampur district are often derided as two-and a half districts by the critics of those asking for a separate state for Jammu region. But this has not discouraged the supporters of the move. They fear that if the state was not created at this stage, Hindus would lose their majority character even in these two-and-a-half districts. These fears are not being voiced openly but a whisper campaign has already started in the districts. Recently, those supporting a separate state for Jammu held a meeting and worked out modalities for carrying out the campaign. They organised a sit-in at the main square of Jammu city. This campaign has brought together the groups like the Jammu Mukti Morcha, the RSS and the Nationalistic Front. These groups have worked out a strategy that would give fillip to what they call their just movement for a separate state that would save their ethnic, socio-cultural identity and keep their economy from shifting to Kashmir Valley. They also argue their case believing that a separate state of Jammu would save them from over five decades domination of Kashmiri rulers. This is an attempt to join the people of the region on the ethnic lines rather than on communal lines. But the campaigners are aware that their support base is limited among Hindus whose fears have been heightened by the repeated stories of Kashmiris settling in larger numbers in the region particularly around Jammu city. This development has been termed as consolidation of anti-Jammu forces and attempt to weaken the Dogras in their own region. This theme is connected with the idea of Union Territory status for Ladakh region where Buddhists have not hidden their anger against the “Kashmiri domination.” The concept is that Kashmir Valley becomes a separate state, Ladakh gets UT status and Jammu becomes a separate state. However, there is a catch. The Muslim dominated parts of Jammu region Doda, Rajouri, Poonch and parts of Udhampur are keen to become part of greater Kashmir rather than part of the new proposed state for the Jammu region. Likewise, the Muslim-dominated Kargil district is happier if it aligns with Kashmir rather than Buddhist dominated UT, if at all this is created. This scenario is disturbing for those trying to keep the state as one unit. But this pleases all those thinking that the problem of Kashmir should come to an end once for all and if even if it comes with the trifurcation of the state. There is a widespread feeling that the move has the blessings of the top men in the government at the Centre who have given the green signal to various groups and formations for intensifying the trifurcation campaign. Even the Muslims of the Valley, a section of them see no harm in an autonomous greater Kashmir, Hindu dominated Jammu state and a separate UT in Ladakh if it means return of peace to violence battered Kashmir. Chief minister Farooq Abdullah had warned of serious consequences. He believes that such a campaign and its culmination could unleash horrors of partition days of Jammu and Kashmir . “ It could be a worse scenario than 1947”. The dangers are known but the political equations have changed the attitude and the campaign is gathering momentum in whispers than on streets which people perceive is more dangerous than campaign on the streets.

 

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