Establishment of J&K Bank, first state owned bank in the country, on 01 October 1938, is one of the many progressive measures initiated by Maharaja Hari Singh for the prosperity of his subjects. The Dogra ruler was known for the equal treatment of all regions of his State. However, the Bank established by him has failed to live up to his ideals and is promoting regional discrimination by being partial to a particular region only, rued Brig Anil Gupta, State Spokesperson of Bharatiya Janata Party. A cursory glance at the list of business and agriculture loans offered by the bank brings to fore the skewed outlook of the Bank as most of them can be availed by Valley based clients only. While there are plenty of loan schemes specifically for Valley based artisans, fruit growers and tourism, there are none specifically for the residents of Jammu and Ladakh regions or for promotion of tourism in these regions. Further highlighting the biased approach of the Bank, Brig Gupta said, a call to the bank’s customer contact services toll free number 18001800234 provides you three options to choose namely English, Urdu and Kashmiri. Hindi, the national language and spoken frequently in other two regions as well as Dogri, a language included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India, are conspicuous by their absence from the menu.
Even the composition of approximately 10000 strong work force of the Bank smacks of favouritism. The Bank recently appointed two directors to its board and the both belonged to the Valley. This year’s Diary prepared by the Bank blatantly ignores the Jammu region by excluding the children from Jammu from its cover page. It probably has been done due to the fear of the separatists who earlier in the year had expressed open anger over inclusion of sportsmen from Jammu and Ladakh on the pages of the calendar issued by the Bank, apprehended Brig Gupta. All this is happening despite the fact that maximum business to the Bank is provided by the industrialists and business community of Jammu.
J&K Bank is a semi-state owned Bank and hence it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the Bank does not become the monopoly of a particular region only. Such a tendency is harmful for the holistic and harmonious development of all the three regions as envisaged in the Agenda of Alliance. It is no doubt that the present government has inherited this legacy from the previous governments that promoted regional discrimination but the government now needs to urgently step in to curb this tendency appealed Brig Gupta.