In Jammu LS seat, border residents to play crucial role


Amir Tantray

Jammu, Apr 25 : With the Jammu parliamentary constituency going for polls today (Friday) in the second phase, one of the major issues around which the election campaigning of political parties revolves is border areas.

Be it people living on the International Border (IB) or Line of Control (LoC), the politics and politicians of Jammu can’t ignore their sufferings and issues.

This election also people from both government as well as opposition sides have tried to raise the issues which suits their politics and which can earn them votes of the border dwellers.

According to the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), out of the 18 Assembly segments of Jammu constituency, nine segments have votes in border areas, both on IB and LoC. These include Ramgarh and Samba Assembly segments of Samba district, Bishnah, Suchetgarh, Ranbir Singh Pura, Marh, Akhnoor and Chamb of district Jammu and Sunderbani-Kalakote Assembly segment of Rajouri district.

The border belt is home to Jats, scheduled caste, west Pakistani refugees and Sikh population and mostly they are dependent on farming for their livelihood. Youth were getting employment in the Army and their farming background was helping them to earn a place in the Army because of the tough circumstances.

One major issue which the border people faced was firing and shelling from across the border which had made their life hell.

“Every now and then border people had to migrate to safer places when Pakistan was resorting to shelling mortars on the borders. Firing had made their lives hell but since 2014 when Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister things have changed and border dwellers are happy. There are no more shelling and firing on the borders, which enable smooth farming, and children can attend their schools without any hindrance,” Ashwani Sharma, former MLA Bishnah and senior BJP leader told KNO.

He said that beside the peaceful atmosphere on the borders, Modi government has given reservation to the people living on IB. “Earlier, the reservation was only for people living on LoC but now IB people are also getting the reservation. Moreover, in case of any untoward death on IB, the government provides Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia to next of the kin which was not earlier there,” Sharma added.

The Election Commissioner of India has established 62 polling stations on border areas which include 50 in Jammu district and 12 in Samba district where thousands of voters living close to the border will be casting their votes.

On the other hand, the Congress party believes that all this is a hoax and border people are suffering more as compared to yesteryears. “The BJP government has done injustice to the people of border areas who were part of the farmers’ protest and have intentionally reserved their seats to schedule caste (SC). Farmers are suffering and they have nowhere to go,” said T.S. Tony, DDC member from Suchetgarh and a senior Congress leader.

“Unemployment is the major issue of people of border areas and another major issue is Agniveer. Youth living on borders preferred working in the Army then doing any other thing but since this Agniveer scheme has been launched, it has brought down the morale of educated youth,” he said.

“Now, due to this scheme, the son is retiring before his father and they see a depressing future ahead,” Tony added.

Another opposition leader and former RTI activist Rohit Choudhary, who is associated with National Conference (NC), has echoed Tony’s statement and said that people living on the borders are not happy with the incumbent system—(KNO)


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