The Jammu Agitation is not communal but regional. There is a danger that the history of tolerance might break under the strain and might become a victim of political mischief.
If one looks at reports now coming out of the Jammu region one will see that the muslims of the region are standing by their hindu counterparts. This kind of honest and detailed coverage was long due. It is to be noted that there have been incidents of no communal violence in this 40 days long agitation. Unfortunately very recently there have been reports of Gujjar Muslims huts being burnt. But otherwise this has been a remarkably peaceful protest.
One of the most famous dogra singer is also a Muslim, Ghulam Mohammed.Late Ustaad Allahrakha the tabla maestro(Father of Ustaad Zakir Hussain) was a Dogra Muslim. I have personally heard him giving an impassioned speech demanding recognition for the Dogri language in the early 1990's. But this secular fabric of the region is under duress due to the delayed and inadequate response of the central government.
Notably it took more than a month for the national media to give due importance and coverage to the issue. This is a very irresponsible act because the agitation was being dismissed as yet another hindu-muslim fight. The nature of the agitation is not communal, is proven by the fact that the Dogra muslims as well as Gujjar Muslims of the region are supporting the cause. They are saying that the region has been long discriminated against in favor of the valley. This dicrimination was against the muslims of the Jammu region too. The region of Ladakh too suffered.
A Jammu Bar Association Member and a Dogra Muslim Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed has endorsed the cause and supporting the movement by the Sangharsh Samiti. Mr. Sheikh Shakeel scoffed at Mr. Farooq Abdullah and Mr. Sajjad lone's attempts to say that he was supporting the Hindus because he had to live with them in Jammu. This is an example of the politics of religion trying to overpower an issue and change its course.
"This is not a communal agitation. Firstly, when you focus on this religious issue, it happens to be the last straw that broke the camel's back. And at the base of it all what is now coming out is actually a manifestation of grievances over issues that are rather secular in nature. You have a region that has suffered a lot," said Dipankar Sengupta, Economist.
Now if you have a centralised governance, a particular province, in this case the province of Kashmir is overly-represented in the state legislature. It is discrimination. Real and perceived discrimination is bound to take place. And it has taken place. Now if it was a decentralised governance, and this state is a mountainous state, a multi-ethnic state and a diverse state, it cannot be in any way governed in a centralised manner. You have to have a democratic devolution of power, decentralisation in this state otherwise the state cannot run. That unfortunately is completely missing in this particular state. So you have various people, various regions, feeling alienated, feeling disempowered, blaming each other as well as the Central government for this current state of affairs," he added.
"Population at that time was equally balanced. But when the state Constitution was framed and state has its own commission. They were given 42 seats and Jammu was given 32 seats. There was difference of 10 seats. Then we raised hue and cry and four seats were raised in the Valley and five seats in Jammu. In the present population we have more than 32 lakh voters and Kashmir has 29 lakh voters. Kashmir has three Parliamentary seats, Jammu has two. So political power is retained by them and by that they discriminated in the employment in the whole of the Secretariat where more than 3,000 employees are there. There are hardly 3-4 of the Jammu regions, including Muslims. In the medical colleges, in the engineering colleges in employment, in development, every where there was a discrimination with the Jammu people," said Leela Karan Sharma, leader, Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti.
All this and the militancy in the valley has lead to further alienation between the people of the 2 regions of Jammu and Kashmir.40 seperate organization have come together in Jammu and are working together. What unites them. A desire for a powerful voice for their grievances makes this agitation a people's movement.
This pot has been on the burner for quite sometime now and it was just a matter of time before things boiled over.
Some must see videos: