Jammu rarely figures in the national conscience . Unless it is read with Kashmir- that is the state of Jammu and Kashmir – its physical , geographical and demographic identity seems to get immersed with the overall identity under one nomenclature “Kashmir.” There hardly is anything common between Kashmir and Jammu in terms of their respective ethnic, physical and cultural features and heritage .
It is a product of the geographical boundaries that were extended during the Dogra rule, particularly after Amritsar Treaty when founder of the state Maharaja Gulab Singh bought the Valley for a sum of Rs. 75 lakhs from the Britishers .
Today, Jammu is not what it was say 70 years ago. There has been considerable erosion in its identity . And, the problem is that this erosion that took place over the decades is corroding further its entity. It is a sorry state of affairs .
While sounding realistic in the given situation in the state, former Sadar-e-Riyasat Dr. Karan Singh ‘s call for “ some new political arrangement in which Jammu gets its due share in governance and its life is not impacted by the troubles in Kashmir,” there was a painful acknowledgement that Jammu has lost its original say in the state of affairs.
Undoubtedly with the dismantling of monarchy , and arrival of democracy , the Dogras who had ruled the state for about a century up to trans-Himalayas in Gilgit Baltistan and the state having its boundaries with Afghanistan,, China and India ,could not have retained their top position . They had lost the crown .
Counting of failures of the past will not help Jammu to restore its original prestige . Nor it would have the same geographical and psychological unity once enjoyed by it. The region has been successfully fragmented , not only on the ethnic and demographic lines , but also on the matters of the faith of the residents. Islamic radicalism has been allowed to grow . Kashmir-centric leadership’s success in embracing the sub- regions of Jammu by invoking the religious affinity is the direct result of the failure of the so-called leadership of Jammu, which never looked beyond the plains and the Hindu dominated belt of Jammu region .
It led to a mindset of retreat . Jammu as a strong regional unit , lost its say in the political decision-making . The leadership of the region , which was mostly in the hands of Congress always compromised with its identity with Kashmir , and now BJP has gone a step further- it has obliterated the Indian presence in Kashmir, with which the region and its parties were associated with .
Giving a boost to Jammu region and all its ethnic and geographical units in equal measure would serve the Indian interests in the state of Kashmir, otherwise there is a danger of further degradation and fragmentation of Jammu.