If anything the state government’s decision to grant divisional status to Ladakh region has once again stoked the fears that there is a premeditated hidden agenda that is being systematically implemented in the state. The point at issue here is not that Ladakh has been given the divisionl status, it is that this fraught and major decision was taken by a Governor’s administration as a matter of course. And that too without taking the state’s political parties on board, let alone start a public debate. One really feels like asking this administration why such a hurry. Why do you recurrently take the contentious decisions whose implementation needs a political and public consensus? And which only a democratically elected government is capable of achieving.
And this is not the only thing that is wrong with the decision. It is also troublingly selective in nature. While the long-standing demand for a separate division in Ladakh has been addressed forthwith, a similar demand from Pir Panjal and the Chenab Valley has been overlooked. Again, in Ladakh, Kargil region which boasts of larger population in the province has been ignored in the award of the division headquarters which has gone permanently to Leh. This shows rank discrimination with Kargil. More so, when the demand for a separate division had originated in Kargil. All they are asking is the rotation of the headquarters between Leh and Kargil.
This has unnecessarily complicated the situation in the region. The current arrangement hardly benefits Kargil as the district is equidistant from Srinagar and Leh. The political parties and the civil society groups from the district have threatened to launch an agitation and even hold protests in New Delhi. But the government has so far remained unmoved. And this is disconcerting: you go extra mile to accommodate demands of one district and one community but you do not as much as agree to a minor modification in favour of the other district and the other community.
What does this tell you about the motivation of the government behind this extraordinary move? That it is inspired by the considerations other than the development of the region.That it has a larger strategic design than just addressing a long pending demand. But such arbitrary tinkering with the state will further complicate the trouble in the state. The decisions which are taken are without any reference to the majority of the people of the state. Normally, this is impossible to happen in a democratic polity, even when a governor’s rule is in force, but it can happen in J&K. Because unlike the other states of India, it is not essentially the writ of the majority that runs in J&K but that of the forces not enjoying its support. And this is a tragedy. KashmIr problem is not only about the political dispute between India and Pakistan and the ongoing separatist movement in the state, it is also about the systematic disempowerment of the majority community. And unless and until this is corrected, the democracy and elections will have few takers in the Valley.
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