Skip to main content

Untold story of Jammu: Business 'down', students fear lynching, teachers can't speak

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report, seeking to debunk the view that people in Jammu, the second biggest city of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after Srinagar, people had gone “out celebrating” abrogation of Article 370 which took away the state’s special status, has reported what it calls “abominably high levels of fear” across all sections in the town.
Psychiatrist Anirudh Kala, academic Brinelle D’Souza, journalist Revati Laul and human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi, who were in Jammu on October 6-7, who were as part of a fact-finding team in J&K, have said in the report that more than half the people they contacted in Jammu “froze” when they heard they wanted to meet them.
“They refused outright to meet us or even engage with us on the phone, even when we made it clear we were not going to mention any names”, says the “citizens’ report”, titled “Kashmir Civil Disobedience: Trauma, Resistance, Resilience Two Months On”.
Pointing out that “the centre of this terror is located in Jammu's commerce, its business community”, the report says, “In the grip of this coma (was) the head of the chamber of commerce, who called for a blockade to be held on the September 16” but withdrew the announcement on September 14 within a few hours, stating “the government had given him an assurance that business would not be hit.”
The authors quote an insider as stating “that the story doing the rounds was that he was scared of being sent to prison”, even as quoting another businessman, on various committees, as telling them, “It's widened the rift between people. Trade is hampered, work is not happening. Banks are not functioning. 60% of Jammu's trade is with Kashmir, so that is affected.”
Asserting that this is the “untold story of Jammu and its trauma”, the report quotes a transporter as saying, “Post the abrogation of 370, Kashmir has had one eye taken out, Jammu has had both eyes removed.”
No doubt, according to the authors, unlike the Kashmir valley, Jammu was not in a lockdown, there was no civil disobedience, landlines, mobile networks, shops, restaurants and malls were open and WIFI connections worked.
However, they say, the internet was an “abominably slow” with files that took three minutes to transfer in Delhi, were buffering all night in Jammu.” Tourists were absent. “We were the only occupants at our hotel, the Ashok, which has 45 rooms, most are booked out at this time of the year.”
Outside, the authors say, “The security forces that were omnipresent in Kashmir, were much fewer and far between by the day. After dark, the picture changed and cars were stopped and checked regularly.”
Not without reason, they say, distress was writ large on a contingent of transporters and traders whom they met. Pointing towards how the Rs 35,000 crore business in Jammu was on a standstill, a businessman said, if earlier 500 trucks at the railway station “would have a trip a day” now those trips are “down to one trip in four days. That's business cut down to a quarter already.”
Yet another businessman said, “We are in the Dussehra season. The wholesale market, the mandi is normally so crowded there's no place to stand. Now it's desolate. This is the apple season in Srinagar. Last year, in this season, Rs 7,000 crore of business was done."
He added, "This time the government is saying they will buy fruit worth Rs 8,600 crore from Srinagar. How will this fruit get to the mandi? When individuals aren't being able to go and pluck fruit from their orchards because of the overall climate of fear?”
A transporter said, “The biggest fallout of 370 is in Jammu. The taxi business has failed, hotel – failed, transport – failed, tourist – failed. We had 25-30 tourist buses going every day to Kashmir. Now there's no one to take tours. Not one bus is going out.”
A businessman complained, “I have a garments business. It's at zero right now. I have three months' worth of payments pending from Kashmir. That's not happening. 50% of my business is with Kashmir. Then tourists come to the Pir Panjal ranges to buy stuff. That's also stopped.”
Stating that while the fear in Kashmir was obvious, expected and spoken of, the fear in Jammu “was hidden, macabre, even mocking”, the report – which deliberately avoids naming any individual – found fear particularly high in the University of Jammu, where they were told that “you can say 370 has been removed and `BJP ki jai.' But you can't say government has done wrong. The moment you say that you will be picked up.”
A teacher said, “We are under pressure not to write anything against the government, otherwise we fear being sent to jail somewhere in Agra or some other place. (like so many people have post the abrogation). Now, there is no one to back us. We can't write on Twitter and Facebook. I had stopped posting a year back. Even the twitter comes under scan, they start questioning the uploads.”
Yet another teacher said, “People call me and tell me -- ‘You are speaking like this -- you know how unsafe it is. The police is under the control of the forces. They are now using police against us for spreading fear. They can put any charge, even Public Safety Act (PSA)’. Now a lot of people are understanding and they are abusing and saying we did a mistake by voting for them.”
Minority students in the university particularly pointed towards how they are being called terrorists on campus for being Muslim and live in the constant fear of being lynched. The report quotes a students as saying, “We have our local identities here. We are Gujjar, Bakerwal, Pahadi, Dogra. But we are increasingly being termed only as Kashmiris and looked upon as if we are all terrorists and Pakistan supporters.”
Another said, “I live in fear of lynching. Two-three boys said I am a militant, they told others too pointing at me. They are close to the administration.” 
Yet another student talked of how “good student-teacher relations on the campus” have been suddenly undermined. The teachers “have started looking at us in terms of Hindus and Muslims. We had friends who were both boys and girls. There were many girls in our friends' circle. Now we are labelled as ‘love jihadis’ if we talk to them.”

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .