As usual the “New Maharajas” have moved to Jammu along with their “Durbar”! The practice initiated by the Dogra Maharajas more than a century and a half back is still carried on by the present so called democratic rulers. Kashmir must be the only place in the world where a state capital is moved from one city to another for the convenience of the rulers. Once the “Durbar” moves to Jammu, the people in the valley are left to fend for themselves. One could not challenge the erstwhile Maharajas as it was their sweet will which mattered and not the welfare of the masses even though that aspect was looked after much better in a monarchical set up. They wanted to enjoy the best of the seasons and therefore, spent the winter in the warmth of Jammu and enjoyed nature’s beauty in Kashmir’s summer. This trend was in fact started by Mughals who used to spend summer in Kashmir. However, they did not make Srinagar their capital.
The end of Dogra regime in 1947 created a piquant situation. The Dogra Maharaja had lost his control over the state which became a point of contention between the two newly created dominions. However, the larger part of the state including the Kashmir valley remained with India. To ensure their hold on the Indian part of the state, the Indian leaders placated the tallest Kashmiri leaderSheikh Mohammad Abdullah and made him the head of the administration. At this point, the Jammu people felt the real loss of sovereignty which they enjoyed over Kashmiris because of their Maharaja. In order to overcome that loss they started a movement for the total merger of the state into the Indian Union. That process is still continuing. The lead is now with the extremist Hindu elements that were responsible for the massacres of 1947. They are being fully supported by the RSS.
On their part, the Indian leaders motivated the Kashmiri leader to continue with the Durbar Move so that the Jammu people do not feel complete loss of sovereignty. Thus the State was burdened with two capitals with everything duplicated which involves huge sums of money apart from the large amount spent on the transfer of the government from one capital to the other.There were some attempts at ending this superfluous and wasteful practice of the erstwhile royalties but due to strong opposition from Jammu no one could stop it. In the meantime, there developed a strong business partnership between the Jammu and Kashmir traders. In fact, recently the trading community from Jammu assured Kashmiris that there would be no economic blockade of Kashmir, call for which was given by the extremist Hindutva elements in Jammu. They on the other hand offered to have a joint front with Kashmiris for retrieving power projects from the NHPC.
After the turmoil of nineties, apart from the bi-annual Durbar Move, there has been a significant and sizeable movement of people to Jammu in various spheres.Most of the Central Government agencies and departments have located their regional offices in Jammu. Same is the case with many multi-national companies. Due to rail connectivity, Jammu has become very close to different commercial centres of India. A large number of Kashmiris have built their houses in different parts of Jammu city. Most of the mainstream leaders and other party workers spend considerable part of their time in Jammu. While as generally Kashmir is considered to be unstable and uncertain with totally unpredictable ground situation, Jammu is considered more safe and stable. While as the industrial estates in Kashmir have been struggling to survive, the Jammu Industries are flourishing. Many investors are willing to take up projects in Jammu while as they all hesitate in setting up units in Kashmir.
Jammu has enough space fully air-conditioned to house the entire government. Setting up the entire government permanently in Jammu will not necessitate movement of a large number of people to Jammu. The valley will benefit in many ways. The security set up would be reduced to a considerable extent. All the traffic hassles would be gone. All the problems in different spheres would be attended to regularly on a year round basis without any “Durbar” break. Calm and peace may prevail in the valley in the absence of the provocative mainstreamers.
Kashmir could be given a full-fledged completely autonomousprovincial set up like the Development Councils in Leh and Kargil. As regards the mainstream rulers, politicians and their followers, they would not be missed in the valley and in fact, sitting in Jammu they would be closer to Delhi! Finally, the Jammu people would be more than happy and there would be an end to their perennial grievances of discrimination. The idea needs to be given a serious thought!