Amit Magotra, 25, a young Dogra from Jammu working in tourism sector writes on his Facebook wall about the perceived discrimination being faced by the people of Jammu even after the Article 370 was scrapped and the state was bifurcated into two Union Territories.
Magotra feels that despite promises of senior BJP leaders before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, development was far away from the region as of now. “They promised us of 24×7 supply of electricity but even during this scorching summer season in Jammu, power cuts are very common. It is as if the government has no care for the people who cannot own a generator or even inverter” said Magotra.
Criticizing the policies of the government on local and national issues, Magotra is doing something that few Dogras had the privilege of doing in the past. He run campaigns on social media. Social media has entered not only every home but has also given the people of Jammu a power to assert themselves against the discrimination and injustice meted out to them since decades by the Kashmir centric governments.
Many activists working to save the Dogra identity in Jammu and elsewhere including foreign countries have also been able to use the social media platforms where their thoughts about the community echo every day. Jammu region of J&K is predominantly Dogra, an ethnic community found in Jammu and parts of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.
Dogras of Jammu earlier had no such option to either oppose or at least to raise their voice against the discrimination meted out to the region in employment opportunities, development and even in basic amenities by the Kashmir centric governments.
It was only after August 5 when discriminatory Article 370 and Article 35A were smashed by the Indian Parliament giving a hope to the people of Jammu about a bright future without any bias against them by the Kashmiri politicians and officials. The state was divided into a UT with legislature.
However after almost a year when the J&K became a UT, people of Jammu think that nothing much has changed and it was now Delhi that was ruling Jammu instead of Kashmiri political parties. This feeling has become strong over the time and social media again came to the rescue of the people of Jammu.
Twitter, Facebook and other platforms have amplified the thoughts of Dogras of Jammu against the regimes that were not working for the development of the region but were only involved in vote bank politics.
Many campaigns during the recent past were also run by people of Jammu to get their rights on social media especially Twitter where they continued to highlight the problems being encountered by them. One of the major campaigns was for restoration of 4G internet in Jammu. High speed internet services were suspended in entire J&K following announcement in parliament on August 5 last year.
While the government has said that the high speed internet has been suspended owing to threat perception in the UT, people of Jammu say that their region is peaceful and has not witnessed any major terror attacks during past long time so the internet should restored.
Deepak Jamwal, a teacher in private school of Jammu laments, “government on one hand says that J&K was now peaceful but on the other hand contradicts itself by claiming that 4G internet cannot be restored because there is a threat perception. People of Jammu have always worked for the nation and we understand the issue but high speed internet must be restored at least in Jammu region”.
For this Jamwal is running a campaign on Twitter and tags union ministers and even Prime Minister Officer time and again to highlight his grievances regarding internet.
Jammu’s tourism that was ignored by successive governments has also been promoted on social media by locals who visit the picturesque locations and put the pictures on Instagram and Facebook. Last year record number of tourists reached Bhaderwah, a lush green mountainous area in Doda district of Jammu region. Many pictures of Bhaderwah were posted by locals on social media after which tourists from Punjab and elsewhere got attracted and reached the location.
People of Jammu also accuse the government on Twitter for ignoring Jammu and promoting the tourism of Kashmir. Many such campaigns by Jammu in recent past had forced the government to change its tourism policies and include Jammu in campaigns for promoting tourism.
Manu Khajuria, an activists and campaigner for rights of Jammu on her Twitter handle writes, “This is a genuine issue. It is impacting both students and businesses. If Jammu is stuck to Kashmir to provide some semblance of normalcy, let it be viewed for what it is valued and policies made independent of Kashmir for it”.
Manu’s Tweets demanding justice for Jammu have in the recent past gone viral on the micro blogging platform.
Voice of Dogras another Twitter handle promoted not only tourism but also the agriculture and other issues of Jammu region. The account although is followed by nearly 4500 people, but is quite popular among the people of Jammu due to its content promoting Dogra culture.
One of the most valiant warriors and ruler of Dogra dynasty, Maharaja Gulab Singh has a special place in the hearts of people of Jammu. Due to his campaigns in Tibet, Gulab Singh was able to capture a major part of Tibet in 1841. His references could be found in most of the social media posts by people of Jammu.
Meanwhile, social media has come as a boon for the people of Jammu that was deprived of basic amenities. From discrimination in jobs to the youth of the region to making the authorities listen to their grievances, Dogras have been able to make appropriate use of social media platforms.
Manoj Sharma, a resident of Gandhi Nagar in Jammu says that social media has given voice to the Dogra community of Jammu that was muted because of ruthless behavior of Kashmiri politicians and officials. “No official from Kashmir region would listen to our grievances until recently. However after Dogras understood the importance of Twitter and other social media platforms, now government not only listens but also acts on the complaints and issues of people of Jammu” said Sharma.