Jammu, February 05 | Jammu and Kashmir Unity Foundation held a seminar on the topic of “Unheard Voices of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh” bringing together the unrepresented communities of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir including Dogras, Gujjars, Gilgit-Baltistan, West Pakistan refugees, Kashmiri Pandits and Ladakhis.
The panellists in unanimous voice said that the abrogation of Article 370 is a historical moment and it has dismantled a hegemonic order controlled by Kashmiri Sunni Muslims. They said Jammu and Kashmir were never governed on a principle of participation and equality. Patriotic segments of the population of Jammu and Kashmir belonging to all communities had been always discriminated and marginalized. This dangerous approach led to the growth of separatism and pan-Islamic fundamentalism in the State. It is an imperative necessity that the new order created by the reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir state into two Union territories will usher in an era of equality, participative democracy, balanced development and peace.
The main speakers in the seminar were Maj. Gen G S Jamwal, President J&K Ex-Servicemen League, Dr. (Capt) Sikandar Rizvi, Prominent Muslim intellectual and peace activist, Dr. Ajay Chrungoo, Chairman Panun Kashmir, Labha Ram Gandhi, President WP Refugees, Monika Kohli, Advocate, Sohail Malik, Youth Leader and Research Scholar Law, JU.
Ajaat Jamwal, President JKUF in his opening remarks said that six months have passed after Abrogation of Article 370 and reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir state into two Union Territories and it is time to take stock of things so that the revolutionary changes percolate down to the grassroots and Govts in the UTs and the Centre are made aware of the currents, cross currents and undercurrents at people’s level. We are all aware that lot needs to be done to clear the mess of the previous hegemonic political order during the past 72 years in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is critical government listens to the unheard marginalized people of the UTs. If it is done properly that will be a sure way of moving into a period of progress, development and peace.
Capt. Sikandar Rizvi opened the deliberations and in his opening remarks highlighted two historical tragedies, one the partition of India in 1947, its impact on Jammu and Kashmir particularly the Genocide of Hindus and Sikhs in POJK and the Genocide of Hindus in 1990 in the Kashmir Province. He said they were monumental tragedies which were ignored and denied. This denial and criminal inability to respond on the part of the political class and the Govts of the day led to the growth of separatism and communalism in Jammu and Kashmir. It is high time we correct this approach so that a secular, egalitarian political order emerges in which all people reap the fruits of progress on the principle of equality.
Maj. Gen G S Jamwal in his address said that Dogras have been the pedestal on which the secular order has been sustained despite the commitment of the past govts to partisan and communal interests. In fact, Jammu region has suffered immensely and the Dogra people who built the state of Jammu and Kashmir were humiliated not only by subjecting to unjust and biased political treatment but also humiliated by distorting their contributions which have been monumental and revolutionary. Dogras not only took a lead in building the state of Jammu and Kashmir, but they also played a role in cultivating the culture of co-existence across the length and breadth of the State. Dogra rulers were egalitarian rulers who were pioneers in founding a welfare state. Dogra rulers supported Independence of India and only because of this reason suffered intrigues and conspiracies.
Lobzang Angchuk, a Senior leader from Ladakh said that the Ladakh region has faced utmost neglect during past 72 years and whatever tourism potential has been exploited is not just an iota of what the region can offer. He said that Kashmiri leadership exploited the people of Jammu and Ladakh and no opportunities for jobs, employment, development, tourism were provided to us. He said that Ladakh Union Territory was the persistent demand of the people of the area and now we hope to proceed on a path of unprecedented development.
Dr. Ajay Chrungoo, Chairman Panun Kashmir said that a dejure Muslim State of Jammu and Kashmir has been dismantled but the defacto Muslim State still is to be dismantled. We cannot allow a Union Territory to become a Union Communal Muslim Territory. For reversing the past order, the Genocide inflicted on Hindus of Kashmir is reversed, measures are taken to prevent the impending Genocides in Jammu province and last but not the least, the Dogras are given their due place in the political order of JKUT. We also hope that now Ladakh will move towards an era of uninhibited progress and Ladakhi culture attains new heights. For the new order to succeed in a free and fair Census of Jammu and Kashmir is a critical necessity because the previous Census in 2011 was nothing less than a fraud.
Monika Kohli, Advocate said that after the abrogation of Article 370, female population in the JKUT has been given equal rights and we hope that the new era is an era of emancipation and upliftment for the womenfolk of Jammu and Kashmir. She said that earlier the women from Pakistan and England could become citizens of J&K and even their offsprings could become Chief Minister of the State but the women citizens of J&K who married outside J&K were stripped off of all rights. Now with a new order in place, all such discriminations will stop and women of the JKUT married outside along with their families enjoy equal rights as enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
Labha Ram Gandhi, West Pakistan Refugees leader said that WP refugees are experiencing a period of the Liberation. We have suffered for a long time. We have been humiliated for a long time. Now finally we are the equal citizens of this Nation and we will leave no stone unturned to nourish peace, progress and prosperity of JKUT.
Sohail Malik, Youth leader hailing from the border district of Poonch said that youth of Jammu and Kashmir has great hopes in the new political order. He said that youth has been facing a lack of employment, a new job opportunity in private sectors. He said that SRO 202 is a very discriminatory provision which needs to be scrapped immediately. He said that this has destroyed the lives of thousands of the youth in JKUT.
Amit Gupta presented the welcome address while Dr. Gopal Parthasarthi Sharma presented the vote of thanks.
Prominent among others who were present included Dr. Mahesh Koul, Shahid Hussain, Dalbir Singh, Parag Abrol, Er. Ashwani Sharma, Opinder Ambardar, Dr. Ramesh Tamiri, Sukhdev Sharma.