Monday, August 04, 2008

Issues in Jammu regarding the Amarnath land transfer move

The current turmoil in Jammu shows no sign of letting up. Part of the turmoil has been scripted, with the BJP and other parties such as the Shiv Sena also using this as an opportunity to demonstrate against both the State Government (previously headed by a Congress Chief Minister and now by the representative of the Central Congress Government), and against the Central Government. However, as of now, the agitation seems to have caught on a rage of its own, and the turmoil over there is threatening the peace in the region.
What is the background of this agitation ? Some time back, the State Governor (as head of the Amarnath Yatra Board) proposed that some land be transferred to the Yatra Board so as to facilitate the building of some pre-fabricated structures for the benefit of pilgrims. The conditions over there are not very easy, and building such facilities would make a lot of sense. However, once this decision was ratified by the State Government, the crisis started. There were agitations in Srinagar against this move, with many calling this a move to do some population shifts. Soon, the situation began to be seen as an anti-Hindu move, and Islamists started to take advantage, marking the resurgence of pro-Independence and pro-Pakistan slogans.
After this agitation threatened to shut down the Valley, the State Government shifted stands, and decided to reverse the transfer of land, portraying a Congress Government as again buckling down to pressure and taking a decision that was against the interest of Hindus. Historically, Jammu has always suffered in the state - Jammu and Kashmir has always been composed of 3 major regions, Jammu, Ladakh and the Valley. Jammu is hindu-majority, Ladakh is Buddhist, and the valley is muslim majority. In all these years, there has been a feeling that because of the need to keep the sensitivities of the only muslim majority state in the country, Jammu has always suffered second-grade treatment. It seems that the move to make this issue as a major issue in Jammu (and many other parts of India) is able to use this feeling.
What can be done now ? It's very tricky. The Government in its current state will not be able to again reverse itself and grant the land to the Amarnath Board, and it will do all it can to please with the BJP and the other parties to withdraw the agitation in Jammu.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:19 AM