State BJP Vice-President & spokesman Prof Hari Om today strongly urged Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to follow the principle of justice and equity and create a minimum of five more districts in Jammu province so that it gets what it legitimately deserves. Such a stroke of fair-play would surely go a long way in
removing animosity between Kashmir and Jammu and harmonizing inter-regional relations to some extent and send a signal that the Chief Minister’s policies are State-centric, and not patently Kashmir-centric, as happened before November 2002, said Prof Hari Om.
Prof Hari Om drew the attention of the Chief Minister to the facts that the land area of the erstwhile Srinagar district was 2228 sq km; that its forest area was 691 sq km; that its population was approximately one million; and that it consisted of only 3 tehsils, 4 blocks and 168 villages and 1537 sq km balance area (balance area is that area where all types of activities are undertaken). As compared to this, he said, the land area of the erstwhile Jammu district was 3097 sq km; that it had 1036 sq km forest area; that its population was over 1.3 million and that it consisted of 4 tehsils, 8 blocks and 555 villages and 1616 sq km balance area. As for the erstwhile Pulwama district, Prof Hari Om said that it had a land area of 1398 sq km; that it had 1083 sq km forest area; and that it consisted of 4 tehsils, 6 blocks and 536 villages and had just 315 sq km balance area. And, as for the erstwhile Kathua district, he said, it had a land area of 2651 sq km; that it had 1036 sq km forest area; and that it consisted of 4 tehsils, 8 blocks and 555 villages and had 1616 sq km balance area. This should put things in a perspective, he said, and added that it may appear ridiculous but it is a fact that the Hiranagar tehsil is bigger in size as compared to the present Pulwama district and that Kashmir today has a couple of one-tehsil districts. Take, for example, Shopian. BJP spokesman further told the Chief Minister that the people of Poonch, Rajouri and Udhampur also deserve more districts because these are bigger in size as compared to the newly-created districts in Kashmir.
Justifying his demand for more districts in Jammu province, which is far more treacherous, mountainous and inaccessible, the BJP spokesman said that the BJP is not opposed to the creation of four more districts in Kashmir, as against one recommended by the Wazir Commission. What the BJP is opposed is an excessive and preponderant share to Kashmir at all levels and in all spheres. Prof Hari Om said what the BJP wants the State Government to do is to apply the same criteria to Jammu province which it applied while carving out new districts out of Srinagar and Pulwama districts in 2007. He said had the State Government followed the similar criteria while carving out new districts in Jammu province, it would have got at least five more districts. Area of Jammu province is 70 per cent more that of Kashmir and its population is also more as compared to Kashmir, asserted the BJP spokesman. The BJP has no doubt that the NC Government fudged the census figures to further harm the already rather harmed Jammu province and strengthen the Valley’s hold over this province, which also contributes more than 75 per cent revenue every year to the State exchequer.
Prof Hari Om expressed the hope that the Chief Minister would look all these facts in the face and order the creation of five more districts in Jammu province.