Frustrated by what they term as New Delhi's indifference towards Jammu and Ladakh regions of Jammu and Kashmir and "extraordinary attention" towards the Valley, political groups in Jammu have raised the pitch for trifurcation of the state.
"Time has come when the area of conflict, which is the Kashmir Valley, should be identified and the two other regions which are peaceful and want to get disassociated from the Valley, should be given status of separate state," Hari Om, a Congress leader, stated as an argument for separate state for Jammu region and union territory (UT) status for Ladakh region.
He was arguing the case at a local TV channel discussion on the future of the state. The Congress leader was echoing the demand of many parties in the state, particularly in Jammu region.
Hindu-dominated Jammu region and Buddhist-dominated Ladakh have been agitating for years for a separation from the Valley. In fact, Ladakh Buddhists had launched an agitation way back in 1989 for granting of UT status to their region.
The logic is that it's the Valley, which has lesser area than Jammu and Ladakh regions, but creates problems all the time and the people of the two other regions have to suffer.
"We cannot be hostage to situations in the Valley. Once the Valley is separated, the area of conflict would shrink and so would the problem," said Hari Om.
This demand has often been opposed by the National Conference, which is currently ruling the state in alliance with Congress. The NC's counterpoint is that it would be tantamount to second partition of the state. "This is not possible and we will never be a party to the trifurcation of the state," is the argument of National Conference president Farooq Abdullah.
Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party legislature party leader Harshdev Singh also made a plea for reorganization of the state. "It is a genuine demand as the people of Jammu and Ladakh are suffering from immense discrimination because of the Valley," Singh told IANS.
He said that with every successive government, the "discrimination is increasing with Jammu", and cited the dwindling presence of the people of Jammu region in the government services and admission to professional institutions.
The man on the street feels "second class treatment is being meted out to Jammu", according to Satdev Gupta, a retired government employee. "Jammu is not asking something impossible," he said, and added: "Every region has a right to live with honour and dignity."
Two groups Jammu Mukti Morcha and Jammu State Morcha have been consistently asking for a separate state for Jammu. "Jammu should be given statehood," says JMM convenor Virender Gupta.
These voices have become louder because of the nearly five-month-long agitation in the Valley that has seen 110 people killed and resulted in huge economic loss. The ill-effects of the agitation were borne by the Jammu and Ladakh regions as well.