People of Distant & Backward Areas lacking due Political & Adm. empowerment keep falling back in growth
On taking over as Chief Minister of J&K State Mufti Mohd Sayeed had on 1st March 2015 described the people of Kashmir Valley as ‘North Pole’ and outside Kashmir valley as ‘South Pole’. Sure, it was time to do plain speaking as had been done by Mufti Sayeed but so unfortunately that did not happen thereafter..
In a democracy it is unfortunate that some times the popular government has to be replaced by President Rule /Governor rule. But when ever J&K has come under President Rule /Governor rule it has been observed that a occasions ‘common’ people started expecting some common good may happen, particularly those from the areas outside Kashmir valley since the extra territorial issues have not been finding takers there.
No doubt on March 1st 2015 also when BJP held the reins of governance in J&K in alliance with Mufti Mohd Sayeed’s PDP it was hoped that ‘this time the elected government will be with difference through which also a process would be set atleast for equitable political ( as per Section -50 of J&K Constitution areas outside Kashmir Valley had more elected MLCs in Legislative Council where as the Delimitation Commissions by then so erroneously had distributed lesser number of MLAs for the Legislative Assemblies in areas outside Kashmir Valley , there was no provision for reservation of seats for Schedule Tribe in the Legislative Assembly in J&K where as in other Indian States it was ) & Administrative Empowerment ( Kashmir valley had only three Revenue Districts in 1978 when areas in Jammu Division had six Administrative/ Revenue Districts but by 2007 political governments had made 10 districts each in both Divisions) of the so far neglected areas & people of the state and for reducing the inter regional rivalries as regards aspirations. Of course for doing that the ‘popular’ Government was expected to some extent shed the shackles of inherited unfair inclinations towards Kashmir valley (no doubt such inclination had politically as well as administratively benefitted only a few of the ruling class & its allies in Valley and common voter citizen in Kashmir Division too had been instead pushed into more & more confusions/ controversies/ myths / misconceptions ).
But even in more than 3 years , after 2015, what to talk of isolating the separatists and anti India elements in Kashmir Valley , the PDP lead government could not even apply the minimum & genuine corrections like till 2018 not accepting the demand of Nowshera, Sunderbani, Kalakote Tehsils of District Rajouri for carving out atleast one more district out of the existing Rajouri district to which no one could have genuinely objected even from Kashmir Valley taking Shopian District as model that was created in 2006-07 out of just one Tehsil spread over not even 500 sq km area ( exact area is being mentioned here since at different times different figures have been mentioned) when in 2006at that time ( in 2006) there existed Rajouri district comprising of 7 tehsils ( as against only 1 for Shopian) spread over 2630 sq km ( as against less than 500 sq km of newly created Shopian District ) but that was not split. But the alliance government so unfairly tried to settle the demands for one more district in 2018 by issuing orders like Government Order No.412-GAD of 2018, Dated:09-03-2018 not wisely seeing disposal in simply posting officers like Additional DCs. That time even Dr. Farooq Abdullah President J&K National Conference was reported to have met the Governor J&K around 7th March 2018 demanding carving out one more district out of Rajouri district. But the popular government did not apply the so genuinely needed correction of atleast one more district in Jammu Division when genuinely 4 to 5 more districts could be created outside Kashmir valley ( no other socio- political leadership from areas other than Rajouri supported with strength the people who were agitating in Nawshera, Sunderbani, Kalakote in 2018).
The demands may rise again. .It has to be kept in focus that Rajouri and Poonch are two Districts in Jammu Division that have a large part of Indo-Pak LOC as it exists in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistani raiders had in 1947/48 more attacked along these borders.
The areas in these districts have like areas of Kathua, Udhampur, Doda, Kishtwar, Reasi, Ramban, Kupwara (170 km LOC), Bandipora district, lesser geographical compactness, have comparatively bad terrain and lesser facilities of surface communication and people are educationally as well as administratively backward even after 7 decades of Independence since they have also been victim of regular LOC disturbances as well as infiltration attempts from the across the LOC. Even in 2023 these areas have had signs of militant infestations & militant attacks. There education, agriculture, horticulture, tourism and local crafts too have not received that much attention from the governments and in addition have been victim of displacements due to disturbances . These areas have been under serious militant threat right since early 1990s but the militants / separatists could not gather even minimal ideological support in these areas. These districts have a large Muslim population but have not gone along separatist lines.
Similarly the areas in and around the Districts like Doda, Udhampur, Kishtwar, Bhaderwah upper reaches of Kathua ( progress / status on the Basohli Bhaderwah tourism promotion road speaks well ) too have lived under administrative and economic neglect inspite of many areas there being Muslim majority but still there too the militants / separatists have not been able to find material and ideological grounds inspite of having remained neglected by those visiting them only for seeking vote during election times , some even using the religious or sectoral baits. So, the people who are / have been living under more administrative & political neglect that results in social stresses too should not be left unattended as otherwise may be one day they too are carried into agitations. In June 2018 J&K State once again came under governor rule/ president rule and since 31 Oct 2019 the said areas are under President rule as UT of J&K. Like earlier times as UT under Lt Governor Administration has seen some betters in comparison to times of earlier popular governments like scraping of anti youth SRO- 202 of 30 June 2015, creation of provision for ST reservation in the Legislative Assembly of UT of J&K and initiation of Delimitation for Legislative Assembly of UT of J&K though some more corrections are still needed which could be done only when another delimitation commission is appointed which would be then surely provided proper feedback on the ground information by local administration and leadership. Hopes are still there that LG Administration may also lay hands on correcting the irrational reorganizations of Districts Administrative Units as was done in 1979 (SRO 306 of 6/6/1979 reorganized into Baramulla, Kupwara, Anantnag, Pulwama, Srinagar, Badgam making number of districts in Kashmir Division equal to already existing districts in Jammu Division ) & 2007 (SRO 185 of 22 May 2007 creating 4 new districts in both Divisions as against 3 recommended for Jammu Division and only 1 recommended for Kashmir Division by Wazir Commission in 1984 ) before return of popular government.
To be continued
(The author is Sr Journalist and social activist [email protected]).