It is unfortunate that people of Jammu despite having their own government have been once again pushed to the wall. Jammu will observe a bandh today to oppose the shifting of the premier AIIMS hospital which was proposed to be built here but is being shifted to Kashmir valley. A number of times people of Jammu have had to resort to agitations, and movements to demand basic facilities such as a university, engineering college, medical college or an agricultural university. The state treats Jammu as an outcast while the entire resources of the government are spent on taking care of Kashmir, and Srinagar in particular.
The discrimination with Jammu has been continuous but this time people hoped that things will change because BJP for the first time came to power in the state as Jammu voted strongly in it’s favour. However it seems the more things change, the more they remain the same. Anti-Jammu policies and decisions are still continuing under the new government with shifting of the AIIMS to Kashmir causing the biggest heartburn. The release of Alam, and others anti- India activities also pain the Jammuites but pinching on the basic amenities of the Jammu people hits them the hardest. Large majoirty in Jammu under the aegis of various forums, youth organizations, and political parties have joined the call for bandh, and it is likely that this will be a summer of long protests in Jammu as it has often happened in the past. The people are also accusing the BJP of subverting the Jammu mandate which called for end to discrimination, and instead handing over everything in a platter to the PDP.
It would be wise for the coalition government to address to the genuine demands of the people of this region seriously. Jammu has had a history of mass agitations, and the state will have a serious problem in hand if it decided to take on the agitators instead of listening to their demands. The BJP could gain a lot of space if it is able to make it’s coalition partner understand the futility of shifting the AIIMS to Kashmir. Instead the party should ask the central leadership, and high command to sanction another AIIMS like institution for Kashmir if it is so important for the Valley. The performance of the coalition government, and decision by Mufti have also disenchanted the people in Jammu, and this will have a negative fallout on the BJP in near future. It is perhaps right time for the saffron party to make a course correction in Jammu and Kashmir instead of pandering to the interests of the PDP, and separatists in the name of strategic interests.