J&K Diary: It’s PoJK and not PoK!
In 1962 China attacked India and took over approximately 42 thousands square kilometer (sq.km) of its area of Ladakh region. Do you know what this region is called? It’s called China occupied Kashmir (COK)! (Kashmir is hundreds of km away from this region). In 1947, 63 thousands square km of Gilgit and Baltistan was invaded and thereafter this region got documented as Pakistan occupied Kashmir PoK (this had nothing to do with Kashmir). The 10 thousands square km area of Jammu region which was occupied by Pakistan after invasion, loot and plunder, rape and arson was also slotted in the same category. Only 6 thousands sq.km of (actual) Kashmir is in illegal occupation of Pakistan.
If we take whole Jammu and Kashmir, Kashmir accounts only for 9% of the area. In the area of J&K which is under occupation of China or Pakistan, only 5% area belongs to Kashmir region. Yet all names given to these regions are related “only” to Kashmir- PoK or CoK. It may surprise any Indian except those who know the politics of J&K after independence. One may think this is simple stupidity or merely negligence at governments end, but it is a planned and forced identity on the state, says a politically “learned” resident of Jammu & Kashmir.
The article is not elaborating on plans or conspiracies behind the naming, but after acknowledging the above facts you would agree that PoK should be renamed as PoJK. Logical enough! While thinking so, did you have vote bank politics or a particular religion in mind before coming to this conclusion? No. But there are many with expertise in secularism and vote bank politics that associate the matter with religion.
It’s good that the present government is not opportunistically philosophical and it has decided to work and take decision based on facts and has attended to the long pending demands of many political and non political organisations of the state. Government has expressed its desire to change the name from PoK to PoJK. And this is a welcome sign! “The beginning of ‘wisdom’ is to call things by their right names” says an old Chinese Quote.
After the judicious but symbolic step of renaming PoK to PoJK, our government should start taking concrete steps to claim its right on the region. To start with, this can be initiated by giving the right of representation to the people of the PoJK, who are living as refugees in the Jammu region. It may surprise you that in the assembly of J&K, 24 seats are reserved for the PoJK, but these seats are frozen and have never been contested till date. Out of total 111 assembly seats of J&K, only 87 undergo elections. Rest 24 seats are kept vacant in the Assembly for the representatives from that part of the state which is illegally occupied by Pakistan.
As there are twelve hundred thousand refugees from PoJK who live in different parts of Jammu region, they should be allowed to represent their area. Therefore BJP is right when it demands 10 seats (out of 24) of PoJK for the representation of refugees of that region.
For many political parties it may again be an issue of vote bank politics but if right steps are taken in this direction, step of these kinds would have far reaching effect on our claim on PoJK, and will help international community to build a right perspective on J&K.
A vast territory of J&K has been illegally occupied by Pakistan, which was divided by the Line of Control (LoC).
Sources pointed out that the Government wanted to send a strong message to Pakistan by renaming PoK as PoJK that entire J&K State including the territory illegally held by Pakistan is one and that entire State is an integral part of the country.
Renaming PoK as PoJK is being described as Modi Government’s strategy on Jammu and Kashmir under which it is planning comprehensive plan for return of Kashmiri Pandit migrants to the Kashmir Valley.
-Arvind(The writer is researcher at J&K Study Centre, New Delhi)