A group of young independent activists from Jammu have come together under the banner of Peoples’ United Front (PUF) to raise their voice against “anti-people” policies of the Jammu and Kashmir administration. The group mostly consists of student activists, research scholars and other social activists who have united, as they said, to create awareness about the policies of the government.
A day ago, during the official launching of the group in Jammu’s Kathua district, one of the social activists named Amrish Jasrotia underlined the role of the political opposition in the UT and how they have been marginalised. “There is no opposition at all in Jammu; the masses are fed with the same ideas over and over again and they believe it. The idea is to create awareness among people so that they can decide for themselves,” Amrish told NewsClick.
The activists said that the government was playing at the hands of “capitalists” and did not care about public interest. “The government has taken arbitrary decisions that has made the common people suffer and there is nobody to listen to them,” added Amrish.
The organisation aims at raising issues that have created problems for the common people such as new toll plazas in Jammu, no relief in upper age limit in UPSC exams, and lack of 4G internet facility, among others. NewsClick had earlier reported on peoples’ protest over the installation of new toll plazas in Jammu and how students came out on the streets to protest against the scrapping of the UPSC age relaxation clause.
Speaking about the mode of conduct, Jeevan Jyoti, another social activist and student of Masters programme in Social Work said that they will be visiting villages and talking to people. “The people in villages are mostly ignorant or fed with biases. We will visit villages, talk to people, create awareness about the policies of the government and educate them about their rights,” he said.
In the coming week, the PUF will start its first campaign against the ban on 4G internet in Jammu and Kashmir. For more than a year, the government has slowed down internet by blocking 4G services in the region. The ban has affected students, businesses and entrepreneurs who were heavily dependent on internet for their day-to-day activities. After the coronavirus induced lockdown last year, when everything was shifted online, students faced the hardest time in attending internet classes; the business sales also dropped sharply making lives of these people extremely difficult. PUF says it will launch a signature campaign to register their dissent in this regard.
“The government said that the internet ban is important for the clampdown on militants, but what we have witnessed is sharp increase in militancy-related activities. So, we have decided to hold a protest march to express our disapproval,” Jyoti said.
While slamming the J&K administration, Mohammad Bhatti, PHD scholar from Jammu University, said that their main concern revolves around privatisation and the concept of welfare state that stands eroded. “There is a notion that Jammu is not affected by the policies of the government but the reality is otherwise. The unemployment is on rise in J&K, there are no government jobs, electricity has been privatised, the healthcare system is in shambles, students are depressed, tourism and industries have been hit because of lockdowns. How can people be happy?” asked Bhatti.
Bhatti said their immediate concern was not about participating in the elections. “If it is required and essential to participate in the elections at some point in time, we might, but currently, we are more concerned about uniting against the policies of the right-wing government,” he said.
The front intends to expand itself to uphill areas of Jammu including Doda, Kishtwar, Poonch, Rajouri and also, Kashmir. “We see Jammu and Kashmir as a unit. We are in connection with activists from these areas and soon, they will join us. Time to time meetings of the Front will be organised, in which people will discuss the issues as well as announce our new team,” Amrish said.