Today, I got pleasantly surprised as I was entering Jammu city for the first time in my life. Ending my Ladakh biking trip, I am to take a train back to Mumbai tomorrow.
I had an impression of a city comparable to Srinagar. While Srinagar is the summer Capital, Jammu is the winter Capital of Jammu and Kashmir. So common logic implied that both the cities would be similar in development and progress.
I was by far under-estimating Jammu.
Jammu city is a clean, modern well planned city that has wider roads with quite a few fly-overs. It has a six lane bridge, the likes of which is even unseen in Delhi and Mumbai. Interestingly, the bridge is so wide that one lane is used for casually parking vehicles for a lazy evening chat.
I wonder what is to blame for this stark difference between Jammu and Srinagar. Is it the local governance? Is it terrorism? Is it something else?
While in Sonamarg yesterday, I was having an interesting discussion with two local shop-keepers. They were openly antagonising the local governance. They were strongly opposing the dictat of Omar, Farookh, Mufti and the whole gang.
Ironically Omar thinks otherwise. Please read this article that was published in the Hindu.
Frustrated, the shop-keepers were saying, "They should go and stay in their villas in London and America...Kashmir does not need them... India is giving enough money to the state but everything is being used for personal benefits and to buy properties abroad. They added that Manmohan Singh is a good person but if our own people are corrupt, then what is our future..."
Then they said something quite remarkable. They said, ".. there is one person who is a good politician. Karan Singh from Jammu side is a good man and thinks about the state and our people..."
Frankly, I dont know if Dr. Karan Singh is from Jammu but now that I am in Jammu, it surely looks like he is from Jammu...
Srinagar is one of my favourite cities. I wish for as much development to happen over there as I have seen in the Jammu city. I pray that Srinagar also gets a Karan Singh as a leader working for the development of the region.
Omar perhaps need to get out of his ivory tower.