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Discourse in J&K is shifting to 'primacy of Islam over Azadi': Lt Gen Saha

A top Indian Army official said on Thursday the “discourse” in Jammu and Kashmir is shifting to “primacy of Islam over Azadi” adding to complexities in dealing with sectarian fault lines in the border state. “…Jammu and Kashmir indeed continues to be a challenge and it’s being dealt with; it’s getting a little more complex as slowly the discourse, as indeed the entire thrust, is taking a shift towards a primacy of Islam over Azadi. So, that clearly adds a fairly complex dynamic to stabilising the nation as it were,” Deputy Chief of Army Staff (Planning & Systems), Lieutenant General Subrata Saha, said.

He has also served as General Officer Commanding 15 Corps, Srinagar. He was speaking at a seminar on “leveraging defence expenditure as a tool for nation building”, organised by the College of Defence Management in Hyderabad.

Giving a case study on Jammu and Kashmir vis-a-vis annual defence expenditure in border areas, Lt Gen Saha said about Rs 7,516 crore are being spent every year on border roads, infrastructure and other operational works in that State.

Noting that the annual budget of Jammu and Kashmir is Rs 64,669 crore, he said “approximately 12% (or Rs 7516 crore, which is more than double the most revenue-generating power development department in the State at Rs 3,674 crore) addition to the State budget happens because of Armed Forces”.

Jammu and Kashmir has a population of 1.42 crore. About 2.6 lakh Armed Forces personnel deployed in the state contribute 12% of state budget. “So, that’s the kind of financial contribution of the Armed Forces into a border State, as it were,” Gen Saha added.