Nomadic migration deepens fault lines in divided Jammu and Kashmir
On March 1, 2015, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) formed a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir with the promise of “good governance”.
Ideologically, the two parties had always been poles part, but the intention was to weld the mandate the PDP won in Kashmir with the backing the BJP received from voters in Jammu to forge a stronger bond between the two regions .
Three years later, the fault lines seem to have only widened -- between the PDP and the BJP, between Jammu and Kashmir, Muslims and Hindus, between locals and nomads. That has been exposed by the brutal rape-murder of an eight-year-old girl from the nomadic Muslim Bakrawal community in Jammu’s Kathua that has triggered tensions in the region.
Migration has had something to do with the tensions. Political, social, trade and tourist organizations in Jammu have been protesting against the settlement of Rohingya Muslims, whom they perceive as a security threat, in the region and demanding their deportation.
Then there’s friction between locals and nomadic tribes who settle there. In the Kathua rape and murder, the crime branch charge sheet attributed the crime to a conspiracy to create fear among the nomadic Bakarwal community and get them to leave Rassna village.
“Our debates on demographic changes in Jammu had picked up momentum and when a mass movement was just about to begin, this government with a communal agenda sabotaged the movement and changed the narrative. The rape and murder case was totally given a communal colour by the chief minister Mehbooba Mufti..,” lawyer Ankur Sharma said.