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

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

Unlike other revolutionaries, Hindutva icon wrote 5 mercy petitions to British masters

By Shamsul Islam*  The Hindutva icon VD Savarkar of the RSS-BJP rulers of India submitted not one, two,or three but five mercy petitions to the British masters! Savarkarites argue: “There are no evidences to prove that Savarkar collaborated with the British for his release from jail. In fact, his appeal for release was a ruse. He was well aware of the political developments outside and wanted to be part of it. So he kept requesting for his release. But the British authorities did not trust him a bit” (YD Phadke, ‘A complex Hero’, "The Indian Expres"s, August 31, 2004)

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Whither SDG goal? India's maternal mortality rate fall target 5.5% per yr, actual 4.5%

By Srinivas Goli, Parul Puri* The maternal mortality ratio (number of maternal deaths per one lakh live births) is a key and sensitive parameter used by health policymakers to monitor maternal health conditions in particular and women's status in general in a country.

Fresh efforts to subsume Buddhism within Hindu fold 'undermining' Ambedkar

By Aviral Anand*  From Yeola in 1935, when Dr Ambedkar announced that he would not die a Hindu, to Nagpur in 1956 when he converted to Buddhism, is a considerable distance in time. But, there was in him a need to make a public announcement in 1935 about moving away from Hinduism. 

How green revolution led to 'deterioration' of Punjab economy, land, air and water

By Dr Gian Singh*  A recent research paper, based on a survey of 320 farming families in four districts of Punjab, has tried to show that high crop densities and the use of inputs have led to degradation of land, air, water and humans through a rich agricultural structure. Although mechanization has increased agricultural productivity, it has also caused environmental degradation.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

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".

Reverse progress in fight against hunger? 15.3% of India undernourished: GHI

By Harchand Ram*  Every year October 16 is observed as World Food Day to celebrate the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the year 2021, the theme for World Food Day is “Our actions are our Future-Better Production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”.

Abysmal deficit of water, food waste recycle treatment 'impacting' Chennai life

By Simi Mehta*  We are living in a state where the most basic needs like food and water are not assured to the people residing in the urban areas, which account for the biggest sources of food and water wastage. Socio-economic inequality in society which is pervasive in urban areas is one of the main reasons for this.