The Lead

Who moved our Constituencies, ask Jatts, the other Choudharys of Jammu

JAMMU: From asking for OBC status to political reservation and special recruitment drive, the Jatt community of Jammu fell out of Congress brick by brick and trouped into the BJP demand after demand.

We quit: A resignation letter addressed to J&K BJP chief

Reaching a stage where barely any Jatt is left with Congress or other parties as most made their way to BJP, things have suddenly changed.

If proposal of the Delimitation Commission shared with Associate Members in the second interim report is to take final shape, the Jatts are headed for exit from the political scene -forget reservation and other expectations from the BJP.

Jatts are estimated to be around a little over half a million in Jammu region. They are Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims -a unique feature of Jatts only in Jammu and Kashmir. Muslims Jatts may be just under 50,000.
And that’s not the only special feature of Jatts.
Like Gujjars of Rajouri and Poonch making an informal grid of defence along the 300 KM long Line of Control, the Jatts dot almost whole 198 KM International Border along three districts -Kathua, Samba and Jammu -making boundary with Pakistan. There are other communities also but Jatts are a consistent part of the border life.
In another common with Gujjars, the Jatts have Choudhary as their surnames. They are proud contributors to the Armed forces and other security establishments.
The Jatts used to win over four to five Assembly constituencies -a number highly disproportionate to their population -until the recent past. Vijaypur, Suchetgarh, Gandhi Nagar and Marh are some of the constituencies represented by the Jatts in recent past even as their significant community presence is notable across Kathua, Hiranagar, Bishnah, Akhnoor, Chhamb and Nowshera.
Suchetgarh, Ramgarh and Marh, three of the seven constituencies proposed to be reserved for the Scheduled Caste have the highest concentration of Jatt population. With these constituencies reserved, the Jatt leaders stand barely any chance of winning a seat.
On Monday several Jatt leaders from Suchetgarh constituency, all belonging to BJP and closely associated with Jatt leader Sham Choudhary resigned from the party in protest.
Senior Jatt leader and Provincial President of Apni Party, Sardar Manjit Singh has described the Delimitation proposal as injustice to Jatts.
The Jatts leaders plan to petition the Delimitation Commission during next public hearing with request to reconsider the current proposal insofar as three constituencies are concerned.
In the meanwhile, the Jatt community has got hugely angry with the BJP leadership for not protecting their political interests.
Some of the prominent Jatt leaders are Tarlok Singh Bajwa (former Rajya Sabha MP), Sham Lal Choudhary and Sukhnandan Choudhary (both former Ministers), Garu Ram Choudhary and Manjit Singh (former Ministers), Manmohan Choudhary (former Mayor of Jammu), Choudhary Piara Singh (former MLA), Choudhary Vikram Randhawa and Surinder Choudhary (both former MLCs), Taranjit Singh Tony (a firebrand leader and DDC member).
With such a line of leaders donning major positions over last two decades, the Jatts are not willing to see their political glory written off.
Senior BJP leader Choudhary Bikram Randhawa said that matter of Jatt seats has been raised with in the party. “The Commission shall be petitioned during its public hearing, both through the party and the community forum”, Randhawa told The Dispatch.


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About the author

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Zafar Choudhary

A journalist since 1999, Zafar Choudhary is also a policy analyst and author. An alumni of the London School of Economics, his book ‘Kashmir Conflict and Muslims of Jammu’ addresses a critical gap in scholarship on Kashmir. Zafar is founder and editor of The Dispatch

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