A tale of two regions: Jammu celebrates, Kashmir in gloom

101Reporters Desk | Aug 5, 2019 | 3 min read


A tale of two regions: Jammu celebrates, Kashmiris lament 

By Pallavi Sareen and Rohin Kumar

While Monday’s decision regarding Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) sparked jubilation in Jammu, Kashmiris are loathing the move.

As Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced in Rajya Sabha that Article 370, which accorded the special status to J&K, was being revoked, people in Jammu, Samba, Kathua and Udhampur districts launched into a celebration. They began congratulating each other, bursting crackers and beating drums (dhol), mindful not to violate the prohibitory orders that deny gathering of more than four people and outlaw any procession.

Celebrating the decision, Jammu resident Mahesh Kumar said, “In the name of Kashmir issue, people were losing their lives on a daily basis and we were caught in the middle of nowhere, but finally there is a ray of hope.”

Rajouri resident Vishal Sharma, who runs a small shop in Jammu, said he was happy as their region had finally merged with India completely. He opined that the problems prevailing in the state in the name of accession will be over now.

A resident of Samba district, Dheeraj Sharma, pointed out that Urdu was the official language of the state even though the Dogras, the community he belongs to, don’t follow the language. He said this enabled babus in government offices to give them the runaround. He expressed happiness that this would now become a thing of the past with the region becoming a Union Territory.

A resident of Samba district, Sushil Sharma, was elated that now there would be no more state interference in the administrative affairs of government jobs. He said even implementing the central government's pay scale recommendations would take years. 

Jammu City resident Bihari Lal too welcomed the decision of scrapping Article 370 but was underwhelmed that Jammu was not separated from Kashmir. “We do not want history repeating again. Kashmir wants its azaadi [freedom],” he said. 

Fear & gloom

In border districts of Rajouri and Poonch, which have been witnessing firing along the Line of Control (LoC) for the last few days, curfew-like restrictions have been imposed and civilian movement of all kinds has been barred. There is heavy deployment of police and paramilitary in Rajouri. Security forces have been making announcements, warning people not to come out of their houses as restrictions are in place. 

Requesting anonymity, a Kashmiri student from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, said: “We are finished. Nothing is left. India could not win our confidence, they seized the territory and left us terrified. They have betrayed us. I can’t say anything more. I just want to be with my family as soon as possible.”

Umar Rahim, a BTech student at Pondicherry University, expressed similar sentiments. “I am totally aghast. What has happened is not good. India might see massive turmoil in the coming days and years in the Valley. I am very much concerned about my family. I haven’t been able to talk to my dad since yesterday [Sunday] evening,” he said.

Requesting anonymity, another Kashmiri said: “We did not see such a blatantly undemocratic move coming. In retrospect, all of it makes sense, be it the dissolution of the PDP-BJP alliance, the appointment of the Governor or the evacuation of the Yatris and tourists.”

Yunus Dar, a correspondent with Force magazine, said the Centre’s decisions will have massive ramifications once the curfew is lifted. He said the current situation is worse than the 2008 unrest, when Kashmir had erupted into protests against the Centre's decision of transferring 99 acres of forest land to Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board.

(With inputs from Sumit Bhargav)

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