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J&K course correction: BJP needs to also think beyond a muscle policy

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The BJP has pulled out of the coalition with the PDP in Jammu and Kashmir. There is plenty of course correction involved and the BJP would be hoping to fix it. While on one hand the law and order situation would need to be brought under control, on the other the BJP would also have in mind its core vote bank in the state which had backed it to the hilt in the previous elections.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in-charge for Jammu and Kashmir Ram Madhav with the state Dy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta (L) and BJP state chief Ravinder Raina

OneIndia caught up with Professor Arvind Dhar, Vice Chancellor, NIILM University, Haryana to discuss the issue. A Kashmir Pandit refugee, Prof. Dhar says that the immediate worry for the BJP should be on how it would have cater to the people of Jammu.

There has been a total failure on part of the BJP-PDP government in catering the sensitivities of the Jammu Province . For example, a strike in Nowshera for nearly 60 days, which is a Hindu dominated Tehsil( bordering POK) in Rajori district. Revenue, administration and police officers were removed and replaced with Kashmiri Muslims as a result of which the strike broke out, and the BJP MLAs etc were not seen on the ground.

A collapse:

Prof. Dhar further says that the government tried to sideline the IPS officers. The state also failed to control the bureaucracy. The issue relating to the rehabilitation of Kashmiri pandits was put into cold storage by state government. As a result of this core issues such as jobs and accommodation were not addressed. To make the matters worse the encroachment of Kashmri pandit properties became rampant as the existing laws were deliberately made redundant.

When Dr. Farooq Abdullah was the chief minister, he had come up with a law that sought to protect the properties of Kashmiri migrants. The law known as the Kashmiri Migrant Properties Distress Sale Act was a beneficial one. Under it, each district was to have a nodal officer which would cater to the needs of the people. However since Mehbooba came to power, the cells catering to such issues have disappeared. In the many areas of Srinagar and Budgam, these cells are non-operational.

The Kashmiri Pandits:

Prof. Dhar also points towards the allocation of funds for the Kashmiri Pandit shrines.

There was a fund allocation of nearly Rs 50 crore for these shrines, but since Mehbooba came to power, this has stopped. Instead encroachments have gone up in almost all such shrines, he says.

During the previous regimes, the disputes relating to the Kashmiri Pandits were treated on high priority. Now no one seems to respond. I can quote my own case where on certain issues, I have got no response at all, he says. Even the CM Grievance portal is not responsive and so are the numerous RTIs and petitions sent to various authorities.

With regard to the jobs in the Jammu province, I would like to ask how many from Jammu got central and state government jobs. A large chunk of it has gone to the people of Kashmir. Mehbooba made sure that her people or those close to the PDP benefited.

Out here I would want to point out that the PDP stood for its people, but am afraid to say that the BJP did not. The BJP should have at least stood up for the people of Jammu. Instead, over the years, I have seen encroachments increasing in the Jammu region and this has not been controlled. Forest lands and even the river bank of Tawi is being fast encroached and the officials always looked the other way during this regime.

What BJP should do:

The important thing for the BJP is to keep in mind that Jammu was not taken care off in last three years and its time BJP looks after the Province of Jammu. The BJP needs to keep in mind that the Congress will go all out here and will ride on the fact that it has its good-will intact, as during these years, even if defeated, the ex MLAs were on the ground with the people.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi should stand up and work on the policy so that Jammu and Ladakh gets its due. Let him make temporary regional councils for Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh, a demand of BJP & BJS c\for long so that each province has autonomy of its own

The government also needs to make its stand on Article 370 clear. It is a key issue and the stand needs to be clear on that, Professor Dhar also adds.

During Atal Bihari Vajpayee's time, he had spoken of the need for a Sharda Peet University. It was to be a Kashmir Pandit minority university. A paper was prepared, the issue was studied and even land was identified in Kupwara District, Even Farooq Abdullah said that such a university should be created. However with the Congress coming to power in 2004, the issue went into the cold storage. The BJP could make efforts to revive this and also drive across the point that Kashmir is not only about Muslims, but also about Kashmiri pandits.

Course correction on law and order is extremely crucial. Mehbooba doled out compensation to terrorists and stone pelters. Now it is time for the BJP to show spine and do the course correction through the Governor, there should be an overhaul of the police system and indiscipline in the force need to be nipped from the bud.

Time will tell if BJP is serious with its intentions. BJP should always ponder if they have done justice to the mandate which they got in 2014 and again in 2015. They got support of 55% of population and 75% of land mass of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The state is not only Kashmir but 75% of the land mass is inhabited by core nationalists and its time they are rewarded, Prof Dhar also says.

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