Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Flip Side of Progress in Ladakh: Increasing Crime

Crime Making Steady Inroads in Ladakh

Leh: Once a crime free society, the largely insulated Himalayan region of Ladakh has now become a haven for most serious illegalities, with the crime graph surging alarmingly over the past three years.

The police holds elements who head for the forbidding region to work in development projects and the industrial sector responsible for the worsening crime situation.

Nearly 300 contractual projects are underway in Ladakh at present, and each contractor employs 150 to 300 labourers. Besides, a large number of non-state subjects are working in the industrial sector.

Law enforcement agencies believe that the opening of the Kulu-Manali Highway too has contributed to the influx of criminal elements into Ladakh.

The senior superintendent of police for Leh says that crime like murder, abduction, rape, theft and drugs was unheard of in Ladakh until recently, but the heavy ingress of non-state labour after a road link was established with Himachal Pradesh had turned the situation alarming.

Last week the local police registered the first murder case of the year after an unidentified body was recovered behind the old bus stand.

The station house officer of the Leh police station says that 301 crime-related cases were registered last year, while the crime graph was almost non-existent just three years ago.
The police says that even tourists visiting the region are apprehensive of thefts, because robberies are reported with regularity from hotels and guest houses.

Even until 2006, the area was so safe from crime that residents would leave their homes unlocked when going out, but today no one dares to take the risk leaving his house unattended or unlocked.

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