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Posted at: Aug 11, 2019, 7:19 AM; last updated: Aug 11, 2019, 7:19 AM (IST)

Modi delivers on his Jammu ‘lalkar’

Modi delivers on his Jammu ‘lalkar’
Narendra Modi, then PM candidate

Amit Khajuria in Jammu

Prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s massive rally at Jammu’s Maulana Azad Stadium on December 1, 2013, was coined “Lalkar rally”. The then Gujarat Chief Minister’s fiery speech ahead of the 2014 General Election focused on three issues: Article 370, “rule of two families and the denial of citizenship rights to daughters of the state who got married outside Jammu and Kashmir”. Last week, as PM Modi delivered on his promise of doing away with Articles 370 and 35A, Jammu — where the narrative of Kashmiri domination and bias runs deep — could not contain its joy.

Though curfew-like restrictions ensured there was no untoward incident, several political, social, religious and student organisations came out to celebrate, national flags in hand, distributing sweets, dancing on the streets.

“It is a dream come true for Jammu. We were being befooled for 72 years by all parties that no one could abolish Article 370. It was just a matter of political will and strong leadership,” said an elated Subhash Chander, a resident of Janipur. “Kashmir-based parties and the Congress had been warning that India will lose Kashmir if they touch Articles 370 and 35A. As it turns out, it was blackmail.”

Pankaj Saroch, a resident of New Plot, felt a historical wrong had been corrected. “All funds, important projects, jobs, institutions, everything went to Kashmir. Whatever we have, we earned it with protests and sacrifices. Fingers crossed, we hope the direct rule of the Centre will do justice to the people of Jammu. Ladakh has also got its due,” he said.

The Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry has also put out a statement that it sees “prosperity in J&K and Ladakh after granting UT status to them and abrogation of Article 370”.

Preserving Dogra identity

There is also growing realisation of the unintended consequences of the move in Jammu — opening up jobs, buying of land by outsiders, migration from other states, losing the Dogra identity. Vinayak Puri, a resident of Muthi area, though is not overtly concerned. “We know we have to compete at an all-India level, which could be a difficult task as we don’t have that much exposure like those living in Delhi, Chandigarh or Mumbai. But earlier also we were not getting jobs due to discriminatory policies of the Kashmiri leadership. We hope the Modi government will find some solution.”

To that, senior BJP leader Nirmal Singh says the people in Jammu “are being misled that they will lose their Dogra identity. There are some provisions in Himachal Pradesh or the domicile concept by which people will be allowed to buy land here after staying for a particular period in the state. These concepts can also be considered by the Central government”.

While welcoming the abrogation of Article 370, Prof Virender Kundal stresses, “Now, Jammu has to protect its cultural identity, as Jammu has always been a good host to refugees, Kashmir Pandit migrants, Muslim migrants and even labourers. When you welcome all communities to your locality, it becomes your moral responsibility to protect your culture.”

The direct beneficiaries

There are some segments who will directly benefit with the scrapping of Article 370 — women married to non-state subjects, 5,067 families of West Pakistan refugees and the Valmikis, who were only allowed to work as sweepers in the state.“Many of us are well-educated but don’t have the right to work in the state. We could only work as sweepers. Not any more,” said Eklavya, a post-graduate Valmiki youth.

Fiery Dec 1, 2013, speech

"It is the need of the hour to discuss whether Article 370 has been beneficial for the common man. No one is ready to discuss it. Just a few days back, Dr Manmohan Singh said BJP leaders just talk big, which serves no purpose. I agree, but I would like to remind him that Pt Jawaharlal Nehru said Article 370 would fade away with time. Since, as you say, great men should do what they say, is your government ready to do what Pt Nehru said?

Article 370 has become a shield and is being used as one. It has been armoured with communal jewels.

The rights (then) Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has, does his sister Sarah enjoy the same rights? No! Because she got married outside Kashmir. This struggle is not of Hindus or Muslims. Women should be respected.

The Shia community of Kargil is left untouched from development and growth, why this unfairness to them, the Gurjars, Bakerwals?

—Narendra Modi,then PM candidate


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