VC JCU: Meaning and implication of Saturday’s Jammu bandh
by Ajaat Jamwal on 03 May 2010 5 Comments

The determined and patriotic people of Jammu observed a complete shutdown on Saturday, May 1, to press their demand for a ‘local’ as Vice Chancellor of the newly established Central University of Jammu. The bandh was voluntary and there was no coercion from the organizers, Jammu Central University Morcha to enforce the bandh.


The traders and mercantile community, despite attempts by the BJP and other formations to sabotage the bandh call, fully espoused the Jammu cause as well as the national cause on their own. Those who had appealed to the people of Jammu to observe bandh also did not force the owners/drivers of mini-buses and owners/drivers of auto-rickshaws not to ply their vehicles. Yet the private mini-buses and auto-rickshaws remained off the road as their owners / drivers decided voluntarily to make the bandh a grand success.


The owners of industrial units too contributed in their own way to make the bandh a success. Office-goers and school and college-going boys and girls also did the same to make the bandh a success. They did not go to the offices and schools and colleges. It was truly a people’s bandh and it was an impressive affair.


Though the BJP and the RSS-founded Central University Andolan Samiti (CUAS) till April 30 remained indifferent to the Jammu cause, as also to the national cause, ultimately took the plunge the same day, but only to sabotage the cause, the people of Jammu, cutting across party lines, contributed to making the bandh a success. A very senior BJP legislator later told the Kashmir-based English language daily, The Rising Kashmir (May 2), that it is a small matter for the BJP whether or not Prof Amitabh Mattoo is appointed as Vice-Chancellor of the Jammu Central University.
Earlier on April 29 and 30, the BJP had sought to establish its control over the movement being spearheaded by the Jammu Central University Morcha (JCUM), a conglomerate of at least eight small political, social and student groups, by asking the pioneers of the movement to allow the CUAS to control the movement. It failed miserably in this belated attempt to assume leadership of the Morcha.

There are reasons to believe that both the local RSS and BJP want Prof Amitabh Mattoo to join the Jammu Central University so that they are able to carry forward the legacy of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had initiated the peace process with Pakistan, headed by then President Pervez Musharraf. At that time, there had been a covert, or what Mr Kasuri calls a near-agreement, to grant maximum possible autonomy to Kashmir and its adjoining areas; divide Jammu province along the Chenab river on communal lines; demilitarize Jammu & Kashmir and render the borders and the Actual Line of Control irrelevant or porous. After all, it was a section of the BJP and the RSS that had planted Amitabh Mattoo in the University of Jammu to prepare the ground for the driving of Jammu & Kashmir away from India.

By observing a complete shutdown on Saturday, the people of Jammu once again created history and showed the BJP-RSS their place. They established that they have their own definite views on issues confronting Jammu & Kashmir, Jammu province, and the Indian nation, and that they know how to defeat the evil designs and resist onslaughts on them and the Indian nation.


It would not be out of place to mention here that those who gave the call for the bandh did not have money or muscle power. Nor did they enjoy the support of political parties, including the national parties like the Congress, notwithstanding the fact Congress MPs, particularly Lal Singh, did rake up the issue of appointment of any Jammu-based academician as first Vice-Chancellor of the Jammu Central University in Parliament.


On the other hand, Mattoo’s moneyed supporters were spending lavishly on planting stories in local and national papers by corrupting media persons, giving advertisements in print and local media, but without any tangible support on the ground. Meanwhile, the people of Jammu demonstrated their anger against the ill-conceived policies of New Delhi by holding a peaceful and voluntary bandh.


The JCUM simply enjoyed the people’s support. The people of Jammu, who exhibited once again remarkable unity, proved by their actions and participation that they would always be in the forefront whenever required. However, the most significant aspect of the whole situation in Jammu was that the Kashmiri Hindus, barring a handful of disgruntled elements, disowned Prof Amitabh Mattoo saying he was a curse, not a boon, for them.

Saturday’s bandh was a unique and unparalleled shutdown in post-independent India. It was not against Prof Amitabh Mattoo. It was against what he stands for: Self-rule, autonomy, accommodation of Pakistani interests in Indian Jammu & Kashmir, irrelevant borders and porous Line of Actual Control, demilitarization, marginalization of the internally-displaced Kashmiri Hindus, recognition of the Kashmiri Muslim identity politics, corruption, malpractices, sycophancy of worst kind, mismanagement and discrimination against the people of Jammu.


The shutdown was, in fact, against the Indian establishment that wants to plant in Jammu persons with doubtful credentials in order to vitiate the state’s political atmosphere to help separatists. It was also a bandh against the official establishment in Jammu and Kashmir – an establishment that has been consistently seeking to spoil the Indian pitch in the state with a view to achieving what the Indian political establishment wants to achieve by planting in Jammu the likes of Amitabh Mattoo.

Saturday’s shutdown was a warning to those who have been subverting the Indian State both from within and outside. The authorities in New Delhi would do well to identify themselves with what the people of Jammu stand for. They stand for their empowerment. But more than that, they stand for national unity and integrity. This was their watchword in the past and this shall remain their goal in the future as well. This was the meaning and implication of the historic Jammu bandh!


The author is a senior journalist

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