AIIMS for Jammu Spurs Demand for IIT & IIM in Kashmir
Source: India Today
SRINAGAR: The move of setting up two All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Jammu and Kashmir has spurred demands of an IIT and IIM, sanctioned by the Centre to only Jammu region, in Kashmir Valley.
Lok Sabha member and senior leader of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in J&K, Tariq Hamid Karra, said the demand for IIT and IIM in Kashmir Valley is equally based on merit as the demand for AIIMS in Jammu was.
"I am not speaking for one region or the other, but if Jammu, based on merit, gets AIIMS, why can't Kashmir have an IIT and IIM? It is a genuine demand and I have already spoken about it, that an IIT and IIM must be sanctioned to Kashmir Valley as well," he told The Citizen.
The state government has already announced that the IIT and IIM, sanctioned by the Centre, will come up in Jammu region, sparking anguish in the Kashmir Valley where development has suffered a lethal blow over the last two decades of anti-India insurgency.
The issue was sparked during the Union Budget speech of the Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, who announced to set up the AIIMS in J&K. Later, the J&K Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed declared that AIIMS will come up in Kashmir Valley.
However, the Chief Minister's announcement didn't go down well in the Hindu-majority Jammu region where the BJP leaders led by the Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office, Jitendra Singh, openly confronted the Chief Minister's announcement of AIIMS for Kashmir.
At a press conference in Jammu recently, Singh said that the AIIMS will first come up in Jammu. "An avoidable controversy has been created by the government. I am telling you that AIIMS will come up first in Jammu and then in Kashmir Valley," he said.
The issue has flared up sentiments in Jammu where a coordination committee headed by Bar Association president, Abhinav Sharma, threatened to hit the streets if Jammu doesn't get AIIMS.
Buckling under pressure from the BJP, a senior minister in chief minister's cabinet announced on Thursday that both Jammu as well as Kashmir will get their own super-speciality institutes.
"Like the Central University came to Jammu as well to Kashmir, AIIMS will come up in Jammu as well as in Kashmir. We have never said that it will not come up in Kashmir," minister for industries and commerce, Chander Parkash Ganga, told reporters.
However, industry leader, Shakeel Qalander, said Jammu has been eating into the economic packages meant for Kashmir Valley over the last two decades. He said the government must set up these institutes in Chenab Valley alone which has "suffered at the cost of Jammu."
"We are demanding that the AIIMS, IIT and IIM should come up in Chenab Valley. This region has suffered at the cost of Jammu region," Qalander, a prominent civil society activist and former president of Federation Chambers of Industries and Commerce, said.
He said the government has divided the state on the issue.
"It is a pity. We are watching how long the chief minister continues to sit silently on these issues. The state has to be treated as one unit. We don't mind having just one AIIMS, one IIT and one IIMS for the entire state but giving AIIMS to Jammu region after Kashmir means that you are creating a state within the state," Qalander said.