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.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Of Protests and Protesters

Monisa raises an interesting question

(Ms. Monisa Qadri was born and raised in Srinagar. She has been a Mallinson Girl and studied bio-chemistry at the Women's College, Srinagar. She has studied mass communications and journalism from Kashmir University, and works in the Corporate Communications and Public Relations Department of the J&K Bank. She writes as a freelancer.)

What do we get when we protest?

HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF, but won’t repetitions make history. Some person, somewhere, at some time, when not somehow happy with something, shows disapproval in some way. But, fortunately or otherwise, since few years, our society has mastered this art and we are using this tool repeatedly. Everywhere we see, everywhere we go, its there. Calling-on protests!! All of us have at some point in time in our lives shouted “Ham kya chahtey...” or Hamari mangey…” or “We want…” or the most exciting “…Haii Haii”. Surely, I believe we all identify with it and you don’t need to try hard to recall the last protest you were part of or heard of, as it is not a long row to hoe. These are freshly witnessed and refreshed soon enough; even before the protestors are home.

A protest or agitation or demonstration or locally known as Dharnaas and Juloos are all over the place but end up fruitless. People chanting slogans and holding placards and banners are only targeted. They come out and are hit. This sees our very own saviors, the police-walas who resort to heavy baton charge, tear-gas, and aerial firing to disperse the protestors.

We have always believed whatever methods would be implemented in other parts of the world for the same job will have a specific local touch to it—the brutal one. They will use tear gas and will make sure it is hit directly into the eyes. Using water cannons is endurable by these daring mobs, so they use harmfully allergic colours, thought enough to kill their morale. Aerial firing seems to have lesser impact, so why not try a point-blank shot; after all they are trained personnel. By the end of these protests, there is no possibility of sending the unhurt protestors back home, in one-piece. And this calls for another protest; the very next day. The series continues, like a never-ending soap opera. Interestingly, we being the spectators can’t do a thing about it; we are simply helpless (in both the cases).

A song called ‘Chicago’ sent shivers down the American spines 40 years ago.
Well your brother’s bound and gagged
And they’ve chained him to a chair
Won’t you please come to Chicago
Just to sing
In a land that’s known as freedom
How can such a thing be fair
Won’t you please come to Chicago
Show your face
We can change the world
Re-arrange the world
It’s dying - to get better

It could manage some kind of conscience-raising. It was a form of protest and hit the right cords, while creating history and is still an inspiration. Why only this-a glamorous disapproval. Protestors across the globe have been able to fetch some respect and have a significant place in history of the world. Some were able to bring revolutions; we will be satisfied if heard, in the first place; at least respected as humans and given a right to register our feelings.

Had things been like that, we would not be protesting everyday and in this process minimizing the power of this tool as they say, “when a man repeats a promise again and again, he means to fail you”. Surely, this has failed and it seems that there would be something else that we shall have to do in order to be ‘heard’ or to influence ‘public-opinion’ or our ‘holy government policies’. And I ask, “Will the land be famous for its courage to take out a march?” Or will it be known to have failed at every level and thus, the protests? Or could we not have or provide anything and thus be a deprived lot?

Well, where social evils flourish through free-liquor shops and invading alien morals; where babies are stolen just when born, murdered in a boat capsize as schoolchildren, forced out from campus hostels while they study, arrested as Kashmiri businessmen outside, taken to custody while in their youth, gifted massive abuse of human rights all their lives, and finally laid to rest in some unidentified grave after they are silenced; and where the so-called saviors themselves turn hostile against your own lives, should we expect anything out of protests for the shortage of electricity, water or other commodities and cry over jobs after obtaining those sacred degrees in colleges and universities? I simply wonder!

And as the song continues:
Politicians sit yourselves down
There’s nothing for you here…
It’s dying - if you believe in justice
Dying - and if you believe in freedom
Dying - let a man live his own life
Dying - rules and regulations, who needs them
Throw ‘em out the door…

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