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.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Unmarked Injustice

Afshana charts the dicotomy between the lifestyle of elected and separatist politicians with Z-security and other fringe benefits while families struggle to come to terms with the missing

(Ms. Syeda Afshana, 34, was born in Srinagar. She attended the Vishwa Bharti High School in Rainawari, Srinagar, and the Government Women's College in Srinagar where she received a B.Sc. degree. She completed her Master's degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the Kashmir University in 1999 and was the Gold Medallist (first position holder) in her graduating class. She is currently a Lecturer in the Media Education Research Centre (MERC) of the Kashmir University and pursuing her doctorate on the role of internet after 9/11.)

Unmarked Oppression

In the dead of night,
in awesome ambience
when the streets
were deserted
the hush of silence
was stirred by
sighing of wind,
warbling of crickets,
intermittent howling
of stray dogs,
Not far from the city
someone was awake
preparing to die
for those
who were in slumber…
He cried, in wilderness:
Help, Help…..
But alas!
No response
to his swan-song.
The rattle of bullets,
the bang of mortar shells
buried him forever
under the heap
of oblivion.
Yet another slave soul,
lived and died.
Yet another drop of blood,
smearing the annals of history.
Yet another evanescent cry,
rending the air of apathy.
Yet another dark night
passed by,
as the violent cacophony continues.

Sustaining positive and productive feats of a colonizing country by a subjugated state is acceptable but retaining the act of occupation itself is highly lamentable. The immeasurable devious lust for power dates back to the times of Pharaoh, Haman and Korah.
Pharaoh claimed to be god. Today, the nomenclature has changed. Yet instinct remains the same. The word god has been replaced by savior. America claims to be the savior of Iraq as India too maintains that it is the savior of Kashmir.

Development, prosperity, growth and constructive brain-nurture of occupied state are the remote concerns for the rulers. The only imperative issue they need to be assured of is their unending rule on subject nation.

In Kashmir, political instability may be the strong truth. However, the stronger truth is the ‘politician stability’ over here. Besieged by the jammers and Z-security, luxurious lifestyle, and all-time free movement on roads, most of our politicians live a cozily ‘stable’ life. They assume everything is normal. More astonishingly, to please their masters, they project illusionary impression of everything being very typical over here. The shade of more than seven lakh guns stated as a ‘usual inevitability’, notwithstanding! No matters where these guns come from, but they are engineered with special powers when they reach Kashmir. They open up indiscriminately to shut the mouth of a young teacher who raises his voice to safeguard the chastity of his female colleagues. These guns can even snatch the bread from the innocent baker’s family and leave a mother of naive ninth class student wandering and crying.

People get killed if they ask for what was promised to them. People get displaced from their homeland if they question. People get victimized if they dare to speak. And people get buried unknown if they matter.

The numerous unmarked graves unfold a sad saga. The crime is too heinous to be ignored. It cannot happen in a normal state. That things are precarious and perilous is vindicated by the nature of felonies committed. As rightly bolstered by Asia director at Human Rights Watch, Brad Adams-“This epidemic of fake ‘encounter killings’ by the security forces has plagued Kashmir for too long”.

Similarly, the US State Department in its ‘Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2007’ reports that the human rights abuses by troops continue in Kashmir with a “lack of accountability creating an atmosphere of impunity”. It further highlights in detail how the Indian troops indulge in fake encounter killings, custodial disappearances, rapes and other rights abuses across the conflict-ridden state.

Supreme Court of India also expressed concern over the killing of innocent people in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast, branding them terrorists. “Just for getting a gallantry award, innocent people in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast are termed terrorists and killed”, Justice Aftab Alam, who was on a bench, which comprised Justice B.N. Agarwal and Justice G.S. Singhvi, observed orally. “This is cold-blooded murder but we give them gallantry award.” Endorsing this observation, Justice Singhvi said, “Fake encounters are for gallantry awards and for getting an out-of-turn promotion. The whole thing is devilishly planned” (Daily The Hindu May 1, 08).

All facts indicate a grim reality that remains unattended. Things on the surface may look quite unsullied but there is a rotten truth beneath. Unmarked graves dotting the landscape of Kashmir signify the sickening ugliness with unmarked oppression in all forms.

Human lives are very precious. And so should be the respect for them. Dispute or no dispute, human brutality is intolerable and unacceptable. What matters is the cheek to stump it out harshly in all shapes.

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