Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 April 2014
Recently, Jammu was in the spotlight for its anti-Kashmir agitation (Amarnath row of2008), and the agitation's Hindutva-dominated face on TV gave an impression that Jammu is a very rigidly ‘Hindu’, conservative society. But beyond this level of having an ‘impression’ formed, very few are actually informed about, or curious about how the Hindu society of Jammu is, or has been – and this is precisely the question that this chapter seeks to answer (albeit partially). This chapter particularly attempts to combine the anthropological data on local deities with the history of caste formation in Jammu. Through such exploration, it is also hoped that the instances of North Indian hill societies are included in the wider discussions on Indian caste system. Academic research on the social history of Jammu is still rare and the resultant picture here would be inevitably sketchy.
Formation of caste system in Jammu
i. Caste composition of hill societies
It seems that the societies in the region of the Himalayan hills in North India have a common feature in their caste composition: absence of large Shudra/ OBC castes. It is well known that the agitation for a separate statehood for Uttarakhand in 1994 was particularly being fuelled by such conditions in the hill society. OBCs constituted only two per cent of the total population of this hilly area called Uttarakhand (then part of Uttar Pradesh), the agitators contended, while Mulayam Singh Yadav, the then chief minister of U.P., was planning to implement 27 per cent reservation for the OBCs over the entire state – and this ignited the agitation for a separate hill state (Jaffrelot 1999, 535).