If there is an issue which brings with itself historical differences, extreme passions, deep seated distrust, interference both internal and external, a tortured past and a hazy troubled future, it is that of Jammu Kashmir. Those who truly love the State above every existing conditioning of opinion and expected alignments depending on region and faith, put in effort everyday sifting through the news and the depressing discourse to look for a story which brings the gift of good tied up with a big and bold satin bow of hope.
Though spotting the good maybe as hard as finding the proverbial needle in the haystack and may involve the back breaking work of picking through a mountain load of hay, but changing the course of a pre-determined and fast flowing river was never easy, yet must be done sometimes to sustain life and growth.
The flavour of the season and increasingly now so, has been an attempt to polarize the religious communities in the State further. The phrase ‘Jammu Muslims’ has been popping up from all quarters, accompanied with varying degrees of suspicion and animosity inducing analysis. We have seen Kashmir centric newspaper reports citing development statistics of Jammu Province centered only on the indices of religion. In another instance listing reasons for an upcoming book the author amongst other things seems to suggest that it is the dismal human development indices of Muslim dominated areas of Jammu Province which when put together show the mean index of the Jammu Region slightly lower than the Kashmir Valley.
Digging under that hay, the first thing of note is that the language and tone of these articles and comments, is suggestive and creates a specific impression which is not based on the whole truth. Skewed development analysis solely based on religion does not sit well in a backward State and the most backward Province of Jammu, second only to Ladakh. Notably 6 out of 10 districts of Jammu Province have a Muslim majority. There is not so much a paucity of funds but the existence of poor planning and implementation by the State administration.
Skewed theories when unopposed only embolden. Every self respecting separatist soon followed suit, making more of the same hay while the sun shone, promising ‘protection’ to the Muslims of Jammu. Protection from what wondered the minority community in a State which has its own Constitution and Flag and where post 1947 the leadership has been Muslim as is most of its state machinery.