Dark side of Jammu’s Roshni Scheme emerges, new demographic wars loom over Kashmir and Ladakh too

Abhijit Majumder February 23, 2020 15:47:28 IST
Dark side of Jammu’s Roshni Scheme emerges, new demographic wars loom over Kashmir and Ladakh too
  • Article 370 gave one-way demographic protection and advantage to Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir

  • With its repeal, new demographic battles bubbling under the surface are waiting to break out

  • Sponsors of population jihad from across the border must be worried

When the Centre revoked Article 370 and trifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into a state and two union territories on 5 August, 2019, a spanner was thrown for the first time into the relentless wheels of a thousand-year-old demographic war against India. The giant machinery screeched to a halt, startled and furious. But the war has not stopped, and there is no evidence that assaults on India’s and particularly Jammu and Kashmir’s demography will cease anytime soon.

Dark side of Jammus Roshni Scheme emerges new demographic wars loom over Kashmir and Ladakh too

Representational image. Reuters

News emerging from Jammu is chilling. A report by an organisation named Ikkjutt Jammu claims over the past 30 to 35 years, 50 lakh kanals of mostly forest land — think of the combined expanse of Jodhpur and Udaipur — has been illegally given to Muslim religious organisations. This includes large tracts of forest land.

State governments run by the Abdullahs, Muftis and even Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad showed generosity under the Roshni Act, which the last Jammu and Kashmir governor scrapped. The court has also ordered the return of every piece of land from the encroachers.

“This enactment stands repealed on 28 November, 2018, by the State Administrative Council (SAC) led by the governor annulling the Roshni Scheme after concluding that it had not served ‘its purpose’ and was ‘no longer relevant in the present context’,” the Jammu and Kashmir High Court stated in its order.

The court has now asked for return of land pertaining to each of 25,500-odd cases of dubious transfer of state land under the Roshni Scheme in Jammu and just 4,500 cases in Kashmir.

A police and intelligence note shows that Pakistan-sponsored terror group Hizbul Mujahideen has started tracking the movements of main petitioner in the case and chairman of Ikkjutt Jammu, advocate Ankur Sharma, along with Jammu and KashmirBJP president Ravinder Raina.

Besides the 6.25 lakh acres doled out to encroachers which triggered a massive outrage in Jammu, the Ikkjutt Jammu report shows signs of a demographic takeover are strewn all around. More than 100 mosques have been built in Jammu city. In 1994, there were just three.

A new Jammu city has come up on the Bhatindi Hills forest sopes, Sidhra and Tawi floor bed. Bhatindi is now a busy town, and here one can witness a wholesale capture of mountain slopes which were lush green forests, the report says.

Worries over demographic takeover are not just restricted to Jammu. In Ladakh, Buddhists organisations have repeatedly complained about "forcible conversions and marriages, Muslim businesses taking over Leh (Kargil is already Shia-dominated), and a steady expansion of population".

The community constitutes 46.4 percent of the population compared to 39.5 percent Buddhists. The Ladakh Buddhist Association is fighting against what it calls systematic ‘love jihad’ in which it claims "dozens of young Buddhist women, and often underage girls, are being lured or forced into marriage".

Kashmir itself may be a demographic battleground, with the talk of re-settling Hindu Pandits who were killed and ethnically cleansed from their homeland in the 1990s. Kashmir may also see mass housing for troop families and an influx of businesses and migrant labour from the Indian mainland who can settle there now.

Article 370 gave one-way demographic protection and advantage to Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir. With its repeal, new demographic battles bubbling under the surface are waiting to break out. Sponsors of population jihad from across the border must be worried.

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