The Bold Voice of J&K

Dr. Jitendra Singh deserves appreciations for pointing at 2006/2007 irrational Reorganizations of Districts in J&K

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Daya Sagar

Addressing a massive public meeting this 7 April in BIllawar Union Minister and senior BJP leader Dr Jitendra Singh is reported to have said that Congress deliberately denied district status to Billawar where as some places in Kashmir region with smaller area and population were given district status and Jammu region was subjected to discrimination. Though late, it can be still hoped that he will work for getting the corrections applied on priority. In one way, his expressing concern for the then Congress lead Congress-PDP Government in J&K not splitting the Kathua district in more districts when very small districts had been carved out in Kashmir Valley is surely based on sound reasoning since even a very casual look into the reorganizations done in 2007 would reveal how bluntly more districts had been carved out in Kashmir valley ignoring the status of the existing districts of Rajouri, Kathua, Udhampur, Doda ( before 2007) and like in Jammu region and recommendations made by Wazir Commission in1984. The areas of these districts have lesser geographical compactness, have comparatively bad terrain & lesser facilities of communication.
Rajouri and Poonch are two Districts in Jammu Region that have a reasonably large part of Indo-Pak LOC as it exists in two regions of UT of J&K and ‘they’ have been victim of regular LOC disturbances as well as infiltration attempts from the across the LOC.. Education, agriculture, horticulture, tourism and local crafts of the people there too have not received the needed attention from the governments and in addition they have been victim of displacements due to disturbances engineered from across the LOC as well as attempts made by ‘separatist’ from across the valley for cultivating their ideologies through emotional exploitation. So, under the circumstances J&K cannot afford to see more of civic disturbances / agitations and that too also outside Kashmir Valley. Demands for seeking required attention have remained feeble since the common people there have not been politically and administratively adequately empowered. duly. People there have lived & are still living in educational as well as administrative backwardness.
No doubt present Government / leadership in Delhi has since day one expressed strong commitment towards mission peace & stability in J&K for ensuring equitable development of all regions/ sub regions of J&K including meeting any shortfalls anywhere by pumping in additional material / human resources but much need be still done .

In 2017 /18 the people of Nowshera, Sunderbani, Kalakote held demonstrations /candle marches demanding atleast one more new District Administrative Unit for them by reorganizing the existing revenue district of Rajouri and adjoining areas. Any how the demands then did not receive adequate attention and support from the political parties.
In the interest of ‘preserving’ peace and stability in J&K the agitations like the one that had been started in Rajouri District for carving out atleast one more district out of the erstwhile ( as exited before 2014 reorganisation) Tehsils of Surankote, Nowshera, Kalakote , Rajouri, Kotranka/Budhal, Thanamandi and Darhal must not be allowed to seed again since there is all justification in making atleast two districts out of present Rajouri District that in 2006 itself already had 7 Tehsils spread over 2630 sq Km area (Digest of statistics 2007-2008 mentions it as 2727 Sq. km ) but instead of bifurcating a district like Rajouri a new district of Shopian was made in Kashmir Valley in 2006 with just one Tehsil and a meager area of 312 sq km as per 2011 Census ( Digest of statistics 2007-2008 mentions it as 313 Sq. km and District website on 16 Jan 2024 mentions it as 612.87 sq.km).
In 1979 Sh. Sheikh Mohd Abdullah lead NC Government had divided the 3 Valley districts of Baramulla, Anantnag and Srinagar 6 districts there (SRO 306 of 6/6/1979 Baramulla, Kupwara, Anantnag, Pulwama, Srinagar, Badgam) but the then existing 6 districts of Jammu, Kathua, Udhampur, Doda, Rajuri and Poonch in Jammu Division were not split .
After 1979 irrational reorganization of district administrative units was once again done in 2006/2007 by Congress – PDP Government through SRO 185 of 22nd May 2007 lead by Ghulam Nabi Azad (when through districts in Jammu Division were increased from 6 to 10 as against 9 recommended by Wazir Commission in 1984 and districts in Kashmir Division were also increased to from 6 to 10 as against only 7 recommended by Wazir Commission in 1984) and to some extent in view of creation of new Tehsils in 2014 by the BJP-PDP Government some more demands for new district status from areas like Akhnoor, R. S. Pura, Bani, Basohli, Billawar, Ramnagar and like have started mushrooming but some surely had genuine value in them.
The ground realities do justify the scope for acceptance of demands being raised by some people like that of Kathua , Rajouri district could be well sensed from a brief information as contained in Table – A .
It is true that creating ‘tiny’ districts like Shopian would be of no much meaning of a purpose and still administration could be brought more near to the people only by providing more tehsils/ niabats/ patwars where ever needed. But since wrongs as repeated in 2006/2007 cannot be reversed so wisdom lies in accepting genuine demands like that came from some people of Rajouri district in 2018 since government cannot logically turn it down when smaller districts are there in Kashmir region . It will be wise to immediately appoint a high power Reorganisation Commission (with private members also) for recasting some more district administrative units in UT of J&K so as to correct the wrongs done over as demanded by the people of the backward areas like that of Bani/Basohli/ Billawar, Nowshera/ Sunderbani/ Kalakot, Akhnoor ; Rajouri, Budhal/Mendar; Mohore/Gool, Ramnagar; Bhaderwah / Thathri/ Gandoh, Gulabgarh/Paddar, Hiranagar, R.S.Pura; Ramban, Kargil , Zanskar, Leh , Nubra, Changthang , Sha, Dhahan, Doda, Kishtwar and like.
The discriminations must be addressed by those in government well in time before they flare up as disturbing resentments . No doubt the policies held so far have helped only a few in Kashmir valley too where as the common there too is still socially, administratively and politically weak enough to stand against the ideological exploitation.
(The writer is Sr Journalist and social activist & analyst J&K affairs)

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