September 15, 2020

Politics of grievances and development in Kashmir

Unpopular regimes headed by governors in the erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir state had though embark on massive plans of development and grievance redressal system many a times during last several decades but they could not bring about any perceptible change on ground even in a single district in Kashmir valley or Jammu division in absence of a popular government. Not developmental plans and grievance redressal system but respect to public aspirations in the implementation of new laws concerning basic citizenship rights can change the public opinion about the working of governing institutions in Jammu & Kashmir. Had the development and grievance redressal been the issues of public concern in Jammu & Kashmir, the stabilization of peace and security won’t have been an issue of concern in Kashmir valley and several parts of Jammu regions for the successive central governments. Enforcing new laws in absence of an elected government and implementing plans of fast track development and grievance redressal system won’t bring government nearer to any process of reconciliation with the people at the grass roots. When the grievances of people over the basic citizenship rights are sky rocketing day after day, how come the government in the absence of elected representatives can reconcile people in Kashmir valley or Jammu region?

The decision to enforce new laws without seeking feedback from the general public is the major grievance of the people of Jammu & Kashmir left unattended since July 2018 after the fall of Mehbooba Mufti led PDP-BJP coalition government. Panchayats can’t be a substitute to assembly and panchayat members can’t be assigned the role of legislators and as such the return of  popular rule is the only way to restore the system of public grievances and development in Jammu & Kashmir.

The grievances of the people are not about the delivery of basic services but about the implementation of new citizenship laws governing government job policy, land rights, proposed delimitation process, use of languages in government offices and the changes in the administrative nomenclature of the Jammu & Kashmir government. Facility of online grievance redressal system is obviously a mockery of the public accountability system in the government as not even a single department has designated any senior officer as the Public Grievance Officer just like Public Information Officers are designated in almost all the departments under the Right To Information (RTI) Act. Designating an officer of the special secretary rank to take care of the grievances uploaded by people on grievance redressal portal of the government is a conventional routine practice enforced by successive popular governments of erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir state and as such there is nothing new in the new proposed grievance redressal system announced by Lt Governor. The decision to enforce new laws without seeking feedback from the general public is the major grievance of the people of Jammu & Kashmir left unattended since July 2018 after the fall of Mehbooba Mufti led PDP-BJP coalition government. Panchayats can’t be a substitute to assembly and panchayat members can’t be assigned the role of legislators and as such the return of  popular rule is the only way to restore the system of public grievances and development in Jammu & Kashmir.

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