Can the distrust between Jammu and Kashmir regions which the PDP chief and now CM candidate Mehbooba Mufti talked of recently can be bridged? Although Mufti claims that the objective of asking CBMs or confidence building measures was only to reduce the distrust between two regions as these were meant for entire state.
The Agenda of Alliance, she claims, also is a document which aims to have a common vision for the entire state and calls for holistic development of the state. The critics of Mufti, and her party however allege that PDP will have to do a lot more to end the discrimination in the state as its conduct in the past one year has confirmed their suspicion that it is a Kashmir centric party. The decision of coalition government to shift AIIMS to Kashmir and lack of empathy from PDP on the demands of people of Jammu led to a deep schism between the two regions. In the past too, the decision of PDP to pull the rug under Congress over Amarnath issue already rankles the people of Jammu region since 2008.
The differences between Jammu and Srinagar will continue because despite the presence of BJP, the coalition government will be driven primarily by PDP. Since 1947, the chief ministers of J&K have always been from Kashmir, and that too from few autocratic families. The reason being that despite Jammu having larger population more assembly seats have been carved out in Kashmir thus giving an unequal advantage to the politicians there. In fact this has ensured that domination of Kashmir has been perpetual in the state which has led to permanent heartburn in the province.
Another major grouse of Jammu is that while politicians from Kashmir have been speaking off and on against the unity and integrity of India they have been blessed by union government in Delhi whereas the nationalist people in this region have got a short shrift. Whether it is development, economic package, political empowerment, jobs and other avenues-Jammu has suffered badly. The domination of the Kashmiri politicians and bureaucrats from that region in all the offices of the state that include the civil secretariat, lower judiciary, revenue department, police, health, power and other departments has led to skewed development and government structure. Development of infrastructure in Jammu region has remained very poor-the roads are in very bad shape, transmission and distribution of power systems has not been upgraded and as a result Jammu burns in the heat every summer season when mercury peaks.
In the wake of half a century of distrust between the two regions, Mehbooba Mufti will have a lot in her plate, and critics say that instead of trying to embark on this difficult job she should first try to convince her party and government officials that co-existence is the key to development.