As Prime Minister is meeting 14 key political leaders from J&K for a meeting in Delhi today, Jammu, feeling left out calls it a Black Day.
Security forces in Jammu and Kashmir are on high alert as Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be meeting leaders of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), a coalition of mainstream parties in J&K, in New Delhi today, Thursday.
The government, credible sources have indicated, is ready to discuss all issues that the J&K parties will bring to the table, but for now, it is focused on preparing the delimitation exercise and holding elections in J&K as soon as possible.
Last year on Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said elections would be held in J&K after the delimitation process in the Union Territory was over. Delimitation is essential for booting up the political process in J&K.
The Prime Minister has emphasized that statehood is the necessary goal of a political process, a possible roadmap towards that is also on the table for the meeting scheduled at 3 pm on June 24 in Delhi. Senior Congress leader and former J&K Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Monday that restoration of “full statehood” will be “top of the agenda”.
National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah leaves his residence in Srinagar to participate in the all-party meeting called by PM Narendra Modi today.
Before this meet, a group of Leh-based socio-religious and political organizations, along with BJP MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, on Wednesday demanded a separate legislature for the Union Territory of Ladakh.
The people of Jammu, are feeling snubbed due to this meet indicating that their issues are not addressed.
Jammu adjacent to Kashmir is the winter capital of the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It is the headquarters and the largest city in the Jammu district of the union territory. Lying on the banks of the River Tawi, the City of Jammu, with an area of 240 km2 is surrounded by the Himalayas in the north and the northern plains in the south. Jammu is the second most populous city of the union territory.
Known as the City of Temples for its ancient temples and Hindu shrines, Jammu is the most visited place in the union territory. Jammu city shares its borders with the neighboring Samba district. Tourism is the most extensive industry in Jammu city. It is also a focal point for the pilgrims going to Vaishno Devi and Kashmir valley as it is the second last railway terminal in North India. All the routes leading to Kashmir, Poonch, Doda, and Laddakh start from Jammu city. So throughout the year, the city remains full of people from all the parts of India.
Their voices poured out on Twitter expressing their grievances of being ignored in the meeting today with PM Modi and the People’s Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration. Unfortunately, they took to name-calling the People’s Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration as the Gupkar Gang.
There is a saying that when your house is on fire then you have to take care of it first, you would not go to the neighbor’s house which was not on fire. Kashmir has suffered 3 years of lockdown, has experienced decades of armed conflict to deeper degrees than Jammu.
The abrogation of Article 370 on 5 August 2019 was deemed a masterstroke in India bifurcating J&K into two Union Territories. This affected the Kashmiris in many arenas – physically, emotionally, financially, and politically as this is the most militarized zone in the world. The lockdown also led to high-stress levels, anxiety, and depression. Suicide rates are hitting the highest in the Valley, more than ever before.
The financial sector was hit in vast proportions crippling businesses further with the suspension of the Internet, mobile phones even down exclusions of SMS. The J&K lockdown led to Rs 12,000 crore loss during the 100 days lockdown. KCCI president Sheikh Ashiq Hussain said, “A single day’s shutdown in Kashmir results in a loss of Rs 125 crore. Every kind of business was hit badly in Kashmir since August 5th and yet no one is taking responsibility for it.”
Ind December 2019 another calamity stalked the Earth in the form of the Coronavirus. For Jammu and Kashmir, it was a double blow that hit harder than any other place on Earth because J&K had already suffered intensely during the previous 100 day’s lockdown. Due to the communications blockade, lockdown, curfews, and militant threats, in five months alone economy of Kashmir lost INR 178.78 billion and lost more than 90,000 jobs in the sectors of handicraft, tourism, and information technology.
This is the first time in the past 70 years that rural Kashmir is facing such a great degree of economic slowdown. Tourism is down to the ground, the horticulture industry is dwindling, and students are suffering because of the ongoing internet blockade. The apple industry in Kashmir, worth INR 80 billion which contributes eight percent of J&K’s GDP, crumpled.
While the food and medical industries still manage to survive, the textile and handicraft industries struggled as sales are next to zero. Children have lost lives, hundreds wounded blinded by pellet guns, hundreds incarcerated, people killed shot by crossfire, many innocents just happen to get in the way of fire, people are living in fear and terror.
There is hope in hearts that the Central Government would do good to build up the lives of the Kashmiris grappling to get up from a two-edged sword slash by the previous 100-day lockdown, before the COVID-19 lockdown. However, there is also fear, skepticism, and indifference.
As we say, we drop of water makes an ocean, so everything we do counts for the greater good. The people of Jammu must know that if good talks are on for Kashmir, great things will follow them as well for the same “sun” shines for both the union territories.