The Jammu Region

There were two traditional approaches to the Kashmir Valley - one through western Punjab (now in Pakistan) and the other through the Jammu region. This region comprises the plains, hills and mountains south and west of the mighty Pir Panjal range that separates the Kashmir Valley from the plains of the Subcontinent. Today, the Jammu region comprises the districts of Kathua, Jammu, Udhampur, Doda, Rajouri and Poonch.
Pir Panjal range
Photo: A view of the mighty Pir Panjal range

: Poonch town, the headquarters of the district by the same name, is situated at a distance of 246 kms north-west of Jammu. The town is at a height of 3,287 feet above sea level. It is surrounded by the Line of Control (LoC) from three sides and is separated from the Kashmir Valley by the mighty Pir Panjal range in the north. The geographical area of the district is 1,674 sq. kms. comprising four tehsils - Mendhar, Surankot, Mandi and Poonch. There are three assembly constituencies in this district including, Surankot, Mendhar and Poonch Haveli. The district comes under the Jammu Parliamentary constituency. The border is manned by both the Army and the BSF. The literacy rate in this district is 22.87 per cent - male 32.54 and female 10.7 per cent.
Economy: The people of Poonch district are mainly dependent on agriculture and government jobs. There are no industrial units in the district. The terrain is hilly with little fertile land. Consequently, there is a great dependency on government jobs. But there are just not enough government jobs to go around and this has led to violent agitation by the unemployed and educated youth.
Socio-economic Trends: The traditional differences between Gujjars and non-Gujjars have widened following the grant of Scheduled Tribe status to Gujjars. Non-Gujjars are demanding that the government must declare all the inhabitants of border areas as 'backwards' and everybody must get the same benefits.
Important places:
1. TV relay station, Dhargloon.
2. Sikh Gurudwara, Nagat Sohab. Poonch
3. Baba Reshi Shrine, Degwar
4. Buddha Amamath Mandir
5. Kali Mata Temple, Surankot
Political Scenario: The National Conference (F), Congress and Janata Dal are the major political parties in the district with the NC(F) having maximum influence followed by the Congress. Mohd. Sayeed Beg, NC(F) from Surankot assembly and Ghulam Ahmed, NC(F) from the Haveli assembly constituency, won the seat in 1977 and 1983. Mohd. Aslam (Gujjar), Congress from Surankot assembly constituency, Bashir Ahmed , Independent from the Haveli constituency and Nisar Ahmed Khan, NC(F) from the Mendhar constituency won the seat in 1987. Mir Ghulam Mohd., ex-MLA, Congress is another important political leader of the area.
Militancy: Currently terrorist groups like the Al Mujahid Force, Muslim Mujahideen, HuM, Al Barq, Al Jehad Force, JKLF, and Harkat ul Mujahideen are operating in the Poonch Area from the across the border. A few Madrassas have also been used for motivating Muslim youth to participate in the so called 'Jehad' by HUA. The border areas are being used by the militants for ex-filtration and infiltration to and from Pakistan.

Rajouri district was carved out of Poonch district in 1968. It shares a long border from Sunderbani to Bhimbergali with Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) in the west. It is bounded by Udhampur district in the east and by Jammu in the South-east. The northern part of the district consists of hilly terrain. The geographical area of the district is 2,630 sq. kms. with three tehsils namely Sunderbani, Nowshera and Mendhar. It has four assembly constituencies namely Nowshera, Darhal, Rajouri, Kalakote. The literacy rate here is 23.65 per cent - male 32.52 and female 14.04 per cent .
Economy: About 80 per cent of the population of the district depends on agriculture. There is no industry in the district. Rearing of livestock, a main source of income, has not been properly harnessed. The economic condition of the people is generally unsatisfactory.
Important places:
1. Thana Mandi
2. Sain Ganji Budshah Darhal
3. Riot Sharief Thana
Political Scenario: The Congress, NC(F) and BJP have good influence in the district. Hindus constitute 41 per cent of the total population. Gujjars in the district are traditionally supporters of Congress. Rajput Muslims and Kashmiri Muslims are inclined towards the NC(F), though the former is sore over being perceived by the latter as socially lower. Hindus and Muslims have developed a deep rooted mistrust for each other due to the ongoing militancy coupled with the demolition of Babri Mosque. Beli Ram, Congress, won the Nowshera assembly seat in 1977, 1983 and 1987 and Abdul Rashid, Congress won the Rajouri assembly seat in 1983 and 1987, while Mohd. Hussain of NC(F) bagged the Darhal assembly seat in 1977 and 1987. Radhey Shyam Sharma and Ashok Kumar Sharma (both Congress), Ch. Mohd. Hussain and Mohd. Sharif Tariq (both NC/F) won the Assembly Elections in 1996.
Influence of Militancy Hizb ul Mujahideen and Harkat ul Mujahideen are the most active militant terrorist outfits operating in the district. The hilly terrain of the district is ideal for guerrilla warfare and the areas bordering PoK are frequently used by militants for exfltration/infiltration and smuggling of weapons from across the border.

Doda is the largest district in the Jammu region. Doda town, after which the district is named, is situated at an altitude of 5,000 feet above sea level. The Khilani village of the district is situated on the National Highway at about 45 km. from Batot linking the Kashmir valley with Jammu and other parts of the country. The district boundaries do not touch either the international border or the LoC. The district shares borders with Anantnag district of the Kashmir Valley and the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. The entire area is hilly. The area of the district is 11,691 sq. kms. with six tehsils namely Doda, Kishrwar, Bhaderwah, Gandoh, Ramban, Banihal. It has six assembly constituencies namely Kishtwar, Inderwal, Doda, Bhaderwah, Ramban and Banihal. The literacy rate here is 18.20 per cent - Male 28.24 per cent and female 7.15 per cent.
Economy: The People in general are poor due to less production of foodgrains in the district. Majority of the population depends on ration supply through govt. shops. The widespread unemployment has further increased after the govt. bans on leasing out of forest to the contractors and due to stoppage on Dulhasti Power project due to militancy. Certain developmental programmes have been initiated by the government for the construction of roads through PWD, laying emphasis on Jawahar Yojana, Social Forestry and drinking water schemes to create workshop. Some areas of Kishtwar are under Saffron cultivation.
Important places:
1. Dul Hasti Power Project
2. Peer Baba Ka Mazar Bhaderwah
3. Shah Asuruddin Kishtwar
4. Shah Fariddudin Kishtwar
5. Laxmi Narayan Temple Doda
6. Vasuki Nag Temple Bhaderwah
7. Chandi Mata Temple. Paddar
8. Jawahar Tunnel linking Kashmir & Jammu provinces.
Political Scenario: District Doda falls under the Udhampur parliamentary constituency. Here the NC(F), Congress and BJP are the major political parties. The NC(F) has a larger following than other parties in the district. The BJP's influence is confined to Hindu pockets only. The district is also communally sensitive because of the presence of Hindu and Muslim fundamentalist outfits. Attahullah Sohrawardy, ex-minister NC(F), Abdul Qayoom Malik, ex-MLC NC(F), Hira Lal Hiteshi, ex-MLA Congress, Randhir Manhas, DCC-I leader, Abdul Hafiz Wani, DCC-I leader, Daya Kishan Kotwal, Vice-President BJP J&K, Amamath Kotwal, State Gen.Secy. BJP, Sheikh Abdul Rahman, JD State Leader, Mast Nath Jogi, JD State Secy., Pt. Nand Lal, JD Block president, Des Raj Manhas, CPI district secretary Doda, Abdul Gani, NC(F), and Amar Nath Charak, CPI tehsil secretary Bhaderwah, are among the important leaders of the district. Bashir Ahmed Kitchloo, Jalaluddin Qazi, Ataullah Shohara Wardy (all NC/F), Sheikh Abdul Rehman (BSP), Belly Bhagat (BJP) and Farooq Ahmed Mir (Ind.) won the Assembly Elections in 1996. Farooq Ahmed Mir later joined the NC(F). Ghulam Nabi Azad was elected to the Rajya Sabha in the biennial elections of 1996.
Militancy: Pan-Islamic organisations like the Harkat ul Mujahideen and the Hizbul Mujahideen are active in the district. JKLF, Tehrik-ul-Mujahideen, Al Barq, MJF, AJJF have also been active in the district. Of late, a large number of alien mercenaries, specially Afghans and Pakistanis, have been operating in the district. Militancy has taken deep root in the district due to the hilly terrain which is conducive for guerilla warfare.

Topography: Udhampur is the third largest district of J&K and is situated at an altitude of 2,134 ft. above sea level. It is located at a distance of 66 km. from Jammu on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. The district is bounded by Rajouri in the west, Jammu in the south-west, Doda in the east and Kathua in the south-east. It also shares boundary with Anantnag in the North. The geographical area of the district is 4,550 Sq. Kms. with 5 Tehsils namely Udhampur, Chenani, Ramnagar, Reasi and Mahore. It has six assembly constituencies namely Gulabgarh, Reasi, Gool Arnas, Udhampur, Chenani and Ramnagar. The literacy rate is 23.50 per cent - male 32.37 per cent and female 13.76 per cent.
Economy: The principal occupation of the people are agriculture and daily wage labour. There are few industries in the district. While unemployment and inflation have adversely affected the common man, the business community in Udhampur town is quite prosperous and feels secure because of heavy deployment of forces. About 20,000 Kashmiri migrants are living in Udhampur either in rented accommodation or in camps.
Important places:
1. Microwave Station
2. Chenani Hydel Project
3. Railway Project under construction
4. Air Force Station
5. Vaishno Devi Shrine, Katra
6. Sudh Mahadev Chenani
7. Shiv Khosi Temple, Reasi
8. Pingia Devi Temple, Ram Nagar.
9. Northern Command Head Quarters
Political Scenario: The Congress, NC(F) and BJP are the main political parties active in the district. The Janata Dal and the Samajwadi Party also have some influence in the district. The Congress is the most dominant party in the district. The BJP is the main opposition party though it is confined to the towns including Udhampur, Ramnagar, Chenani, Katra and Reasi. The RSS have around 450 Swyam Sewaks in Udhampur and has close relations with the Purva Sainik Seva Parishad. The Shiv Sena, Panther's Party and CPI, though functional have negligible influence in the district. Abdul Gani Malik, Jagjiwan Lal (both JD), Ab. Wahid Shwal (NCF), Lal Shiv Charan, Prithivi Chand (both BJP) and Harshdev Singh (PP) won the 1996 Assembly Elections. Chaman Lal Gupta (BJP) was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1998.
Influence of militancy: The Hizbul Mujahideen is the most active militant outfit in the district and has extended its influence to many parts of the district, including Gool Gulabgarh and Mahore, Gangeda, Samroli, Latti Duna, Sailon Ka Talab, Dandyal, Badola and Manpa.

District Jammu is extended along the whole length of the international border with Pakistan. The LoC defines its border in North-West and it shares its border with Rajouri, Udhampur and Kathua district in the North in the East and in the South-East respectively. The geographical area of the district is 3097 Sq. Kms. with 5 Tehsils namely Jammu, Samba, Akhnoor, R.S. Pura and Bishnah. It has 13 assembly constituencies namely Samba, Vijaypur, Nagrota, Gandhinagar, Jammu, Sarwal, Bishnah, R.S. Pura, Suchetgarh, Marh, Raipur Domana, Akhnoor and Chamb. The literacy rate stands at 43% of which male constitute 52.25% and female 33.16%.
Economy: The rural population is mainly depends on agriculture. Except for the Kandi area, the land is irrigated and fertile. The people of the district are relatively well off. Being the winter capital of J&K, the people of the area are politically conscious.
Important places:
(1) Airfield/Army establishments in Jammu Cant.
(2) Nagrota-Kaluchak area
(3) Jammu Doordarshan Kendra
(4) Radio Station
(5) Railway Station
(6) Vital bridges of Jammu and Akhnoor area
(7) Raghunath temple
(8) Shiv temple
(9) Bahu fort
(10) Pir Khoh cave
(11) Mazar of Pir Baba at Satwari
Political Scenario: The Congress, BJP, BSP and the Janata Dal are the main political parties in the district with the Congress being the most influential. Parkash Sharma, the Congress candidate from the Samba assembly constituency, and Mula Ram, Congress candidate from the Marh assembly constituency, won the seat in 1983 and 1987 respectively while Dharampal and Madan Lal, both Congress, won the Akhnoor and the Chhamb assembly seats in 1977, 1983 and 1987 respectively. Chaman Lal, BJP, won the Jammu East assembly seat in 1987. Other important leaders of the district include Mangat Ram Sharma, Congress, Janak Raj Gupta, Congress, Bodhraj Bali, NC(F), Babu Parmanand, NC(F), and Trilochan Dutt, Congress. Prof. Chaman Lal Gupta (BJP) and Mangat Ram Sharma won the Lok Sabha elections and Dr. Karan Singh was elected to the Rajya Sabha in the 1996 bi-ennial elections. Vaid Vishnu Dutt (BJP) was elected to the Lok Sabha elections in 1998.
Influence of Militancy: The hilly areas along the bye-pass road in the east of Jammu is being used as hideouts for pro-Pakistani terrorists They have been using the areas bordering Pakistan as infiltration routes for arms smuggling as well as training. Though negligible, the presence of most of the important militant outfits is noticeable. Pakistan's covert services wing, the ISI, has been inducting trained saboteurs from across the border through R.S.Pura sector to set off bomb blasts in crowded places in Jammu city and to disrupt the electricity supply system.

Topography: Kathua town is situated on the Jammu-Pathankot National Highway at a distance of about 87 Kms. east of Jammu and about 25 Kms. west of Pathankot. The total length of international border is 60 kms. The border, though mostly plain is separated in certain stretches by rivers and rivulets which create natural obstruction to border crossers only during the rainy season. The district shares boundary with Punjab in the South, Himachal Pradesh in the East and Udhampur in the North. The geographical area of the district is 2,651 sq. kms. with four tehsils namely, Basholi, Bilawar, Kathua and Hiranagar. The whole area of Basholi and Bilawar is a hilly terrain while that of Kathua and Hiranagar is mostly plain. It has five assembly constituencies namely, Bani, Basholi, Kathua, Bilawar, and Hiranagar. literacy rate stands at 31.44% of which male constitutes 41.10 and female 21%.
Economy: The majority of the population of Kathua district is dependent on agriculture. About 80 per cent of agricultural land in the district is non-irrigated. A large section of the population depends on wage labour and government employment. There are 20 small and big industrial units in Kathua Industrial area. People of the district are highly critical of price hike and rampant corruption in the state govt. departments. The general economic condition of the population is poor, especially those living in rural areas.
Important places:
1. Sukrala Mata temple, Billawar
2. Shiv Mandir, Billawar
3. Jiriawala Mata temple, Bani
Political scenario: The Congress followed by the BJP are the major political parties in the district. The NC(F), JD, International Democratic Party (Saraf) and BSP also have a following. The Congress has rural base, while the BJP is confined to towns. The NC(F) and others have negligible influence in the district at present. The RSS has a sizeable influence in the district. Jagdish Rajput, the Congress candidate from the Basoli assembly constituency, Swaran Singh, Congress from Billawar assembly constituency, Om Prakash, the Congress candidate from Kathua (Reserved) assembly constituency and Baldev Singh, the BJP canidate from Hiranagar assembly constituency won the seats in 1987. Ghulam Haider, NC(F), Lal Singh and Balbir Singh (both Congress), Sagar Chand (BSP) and Prem Lal (BJP) won the Assembly elections 1996.
Influence of Militancy: After tightening of the border in the Punjab, Sikh militants took to crossing over to Pakistan from Kathua district for smuggling arms and ammunition. This has gone down considerably in recent times.