Taking a cue from the agitation in Jammu for establishment of a separate All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Kashmir based civil society and business fraternity has demanded setting up of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in the valley on similar grounds.
On Saturday, Minister for Health and Medical Education, Lal Singh said there would be a similar AIIMS for both Jammu as well as Kashmir regions. The announcement prompted business fraternity of Kashmir to seek those institutions in Kashmir that were initially sanctioned for Jammu region only.
President of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), Sheikh Ashiq said if the state government can meet the demands of Jammu then same should be done in Kashmir too.
“We are not against the sanctioning of AIIMS to Jammu, but then why not IIT and IIM in Kashmir. Aren’t we part of this state,” he asked.
The KCCI president said they would raise the matter with government and seek an equal opportunity for Kashmir without adopting any discriminative approach.
“I hope that government will give us a patient hearing and do justice to our plea as they did with Jammu,” Ashiq said.
Earlier, in the union budget, Government of India had announced establishment of AIIMS in Kashmir, while IIT and IIM were sanctioned to Jammu region. However, the decision of GoI didn’t go well in Jammu and under the banner of AIIMS Coordination Committee different organizations came together to launch agitation which has now been extended till August 5.
Appealing the traders and transporters of Jammu to call off the strike, Health Minister had assured that the process of establishment of AIIMS at both Jammu as well as in Kashmir would commence simultaneously with equal provision of funds to the tune of Rs 1500 crore each.
Shakeel Qalander, a prominent businessman and a member of civil society group, Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS) said the new projects should be sanctioned to least privileged districts, irrespective of the region they fall in.
“We welcome GoI’s proposal to establish AIIMS, IIT and IIM in the state but it should be established in those districts which were being deprived of any developmental work till date,” he said.
Qalander said as per District Development Index 2011, Poonch, Rajouri, Kupwara and erstwhile Doda are the least developed districts in the state while Jammu tops the list.
“Rather than fighting between Jammu and Srinagar it is better to establish these institutions in such areas where there is a dire need for it. They are part of our state and should be developed without any biased approach,” he said.
Qalander, who was also the president of Federation of Chamber and Industries of Kashmir (FCIK), said Jammu and Kashmir is a one entity “but certain communal forces are trying to divide it by infusing communal hatred between the two communities”.
“We all know what forces are working in Jammu and what their objectives are. Centre and State government should introspect and rise above politics to save J&K from falling into the communal hands,” he said.
Last month, National Conference demanded setting up of IIT and IIM in Kashmir after the Industries and Commerce Minister Chander Prakash Ganga on June 11 hinted that AIIMS would come up in both the regions – Jammu and Kashmir.
Ruling PDP MP Tariq Hamid Karra, senior CPI (M) legislator M Y Tarigami and another MLA Hakim Mohammad Yaseen have also urged the union government to maintain regional imbalance and work on equitable infrastructure development and employment generation in both regions.
President of Kashmir Traders and Manufactures Federation (KTMF), Yasin Khan said it would be yet another “discriminative” decision of Centre and state government if IIT and IIM are not sanctioned for Kashmir region.
“Even though I had no hope left in the present dispensation after their fake promises on flood rehabilitation packages, but granting AIIMS to Jammu and no IIT and IIM for Kashmir will be discrimination with Kashmiri people,” he said.
Khan, who is also the chairman of Kashmir Economic Alliance, alleged that unlike Jammu, “none of our genuine demands were ever fulfilled despite spilling blood on streets”.
“Kashmir has always been put on a back burner. Despite so many protests and strikes we hardly get our demands fulfilled. But one agitation in Jammu made government to kneel,” Khan said.
“It is mainly because right-wing Bharatiya Janta Party is at Centre and in the state that demands of Jammu people are getting fulfilled,” he alleged.