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, September 29, 2008

Grandmother's Souvenirs

Zahid affirms his place as a master story teller

(Mr. Z. G. Mohammad, 59, was born and raised in Srinagar. He earned his Master's degree in English literature from the Kashmir University and has completed a course in Mass Communication from Indian Institute of Mass Communication. He is a writer and a journalist who has written for many newspapers, including the Statesman, the Sunday, and the Kashmir Times. He currently works for the Greater Kashmir.)

And how can I forget the memory?

Should I call them souvenirs? There were some artifacts in our home that were precious possession of my grandmother. It was a porcelain bowl with ingrained floral designs, an old porcelain flower vase, a candle stand, an old wick lantern, a velvet bolster and a velvet mattress – She had an emotional attachment with these items.

Why my grandmother was so possessive about these old lusterless items? This question often haunted me. Many times my imagination would go wild. The child story writer in me that bloomed but withered away after writing just a few stories would weave many stories about these old artifacts and my grandmothers' emotional attachment with them. I would many times look at them as objects with some magic spell- I many compared old velvet bolster and mattress with magic carpet in Arabian nights.

I would many times prodded 'Diead' as grandmother was called by all children in the family for being overprotective about these articles of no value. I asked her why did not she give away these worthless old items to hawkers whose used to buy all trash or to hugdawala – perhaps corrupted form of huch-i-gadawala (Dry fish seller) or to mutter-wala (Roasted pea seller).

The bits and pieces of barter system survived in my childhood. In exchange of old goods of brass, copper and some old porcelain items the hugdawala- dry fish sellers would give you some sundried fish may be a 'paow' (250gms) or less depending upon the value of goods that they weighed with their brass balances. The weights used were mostly some chiseled stones. There were many varieties of sundried fish these hawkers would give you in exchange of old items. The dishes made of sundried fish were very popular in most of the Kashmiri families- I think it was only in neo-rich or upstart families that had lost taste for sundried fish. The most popular dish of sundried fish was chutney known as hugadachout. There was hardly a family in our locality that did not preparer chutney of sundried fish during the holy month of Ramdan. The dried fish would be roasted on live embers, then pulverized in 'wakhul or Naim' stone mortar by Kajawuht limestone pestle and mixed with salt and red pepper powder. Some would fry them in mustard oil and mix with salt and red pepper powder. The sundried fish chutney was seen as an appetizer and one could take a full bowl of rice with this chutney. The Pacha-Hugada was yet another variety of sundried fish that was cooked with some wild vegetables.

The spinning wheel known in local parlance as yender was an important possession of most of the families in my birth burg. There was a hardly a family that did not have a yender. The spinning wheel like many other important tools like carpet looms that had changed economic scenario of Kashmir had perhaps come from the Central Asia after the advent of Islam. Most of the women would spin finest threats out of puhmb raw Pashmina wool that was imported from Leh and dispensed by Pumbhwanis. There was hardly a locality that did not have one or two shops of the Pumbhwanis. Many traders during summers would travel to Ladkh with number of goods such as copper utensils tea, salt and other items and buy in exchange the pashmina wool.

Some teachers who were posted in Leh would bring a sack or two of Pashmina wool with them. Most of the women twirled as gossamer fine threads. I loved hearing songs that my friend's mother would sing while spinning the wheel. I remembered many of them for many years.

The wool would undergo many processes before it would reach the spinning wheel. It was mixed with dry rice- flour, kneaded thoroughly and then passed through a comb fixed on a wooden pedestal. The coarser hairs were combed out. Then small balls were made of it and spun into fine threads.

The yender and the pedestal comb were not imported but manufactured by local carpenters known as "turka-chahan". I remember there was 'turka-chahan' a few hundred meters from my Mohalla in Malarta. I often visited this carpenter's shop for buying 'bera' (wooden ball) used as cricket ball. Mostly bera was made out of willow wood and sometimes of walnut. The bera would cost one or two annas as against leather ball that would cost one and half-rupee. We would get even wickets and bats made by the carpenter. The carpenters would not only make the spinning wheels and pedestal combs but also wooden sandals with or without straps. Some made mortars and pestles, vats, and drums of some good quality wood.

I do not know to what used were the hair from Pashmina wool used but both hugadwalas and mutterwallas would barter them against the sundried fish and roasted peas and soya beans.

Though I was eager to barter away old artifacts for some roasted peas, soya beans and maize but my grandmother was never ready to sell her possessions to hawkers. She one day said these artifacts were precious for the family as they had been brought by my late grandfather from Lahore. Many times tears welled in her eyes as she narrated stories about golden old days when my grandfather left for Lahore in what she called Nanda Bus- perhaps some bus service that operated between Srinagar and Rawalpindi through Kohali bridge. She had not visited Lahore but had heard lots of stories about twin cities of undivided Punjab that were second home to Kashmiris before the closing down of the Jhelum valley. She narrated these stories as if she filliped through the pages of history. She had a story to tell about every souvenir from what market and what place in that historic city grandfather had purchased those items.

Profile of a Pandit Youth Dreaming big in Kashmir

Pandits in the valley has few things to cheer about, but this is one such news

'Immersion' offers Kashmir some band aid

Izhar Wani (Kashmir Images)

SRINAGAR: As a Hindu whose grandfather was shot dead by Muslim militants, Amit Wanchoo has long had reason to quit Kashmir. Instead he's stayed and prospered in one of the most unlikely career choices on offer in the restive region -- singer in a rock band.

"Music never kills anyone, never harms anyone," says Wanchoo, 29, whose group, Immersion, has a loyal following among young Kashmiris tired with nearly 20 years of a bloody insurgency against Indian rule.

"Through our concerts we are able to heal wounds. We are able to make people sing and smile," Wanchoo told AFP during an interview in Kashmir's summer capital Srinagar.

The separatist battle that broke out in Muslim-majority Kashmir in 1989 has left more than 43,000 people dead, according to official figures. It also put a long-term lid on the disputed region's cultural life, with the separatists banning most forms of entertainment. However, since the launch of an India-Pakistan peace process in January 2004, the level of violence has ebbed somewhat and popular culture has been making a tentative comeback. Cable TV is available again, a single cinema has opened and theatre actors are back treading the boards.

And since 2004, Immersion has managed to perform 800 concerts across Kashmir -- including the Hindu-majority winter capital Jammu -- and even in New Delhi.

The band, which performs in English, Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi, recently released a well-received album, whose songs reflect some of the tragedy of Kashmir but also the optimism of its people.
Lines like "We will change the picture of the world, we the youngsters of Kashmir" have struck a chord and are often heard being sung in Srinagar's streets and markets.

"My aim is to make Immersion a big name," says Wanchoo, who writes most of the five-member band's lyrics.

Wanchoo's family belongs to the Kashmiri Pandit (Hindu) community, and was one of the few that chose not to flee the Kashmir Valley region for Jammu during the insurgency. His grandfather used to document cases of human rights violations by Indian troops, fight unlawful detentions of suspects and help the poor, but still became a militant target and was killed in 1992.

Wanchoo admits that the murder made him "anti-Muslim" for a brief period. "I was only 13," he says. "I used to think: why did they kill him? He never harmed them. But soon I realised that it was an insane act by an insane man, not by the entire (Muslim) community".

Muslims helped cremate his grandfather.

"I understand the suffering of both Hindus and Muslims," says Wanchoo, who prefers to forget the past and concentrate on the future.

Wanchoo wants to develop Immersion into a sort of academy where new talent can be encouraged. The band's albums are being sold outside Kashmir, and now a Bollywood producer is interested in making a film about the group's emergence.

"This band has surely survived. We are now making profits and also have lots of work on hand," Wanchoo says.

Immersion performs on key anniversaries, as well as for NGOs and charities.

"We even perform to entertain and help those orphaned by the ongoing unrest," says Mehmeet Sayeed, 24 -- the only woman in the group.
Afshana stumps for civil public debate on issues of common concern

(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.)

Learn to Dissent

"If all mankind
minus one,
were of one opinion,
and only one person
were of the contrary opinion,
mankind would be no more
justified in silencing
that one person,
than he,
if he had the power,
would be justified
in silencing mankind"
(John Stuart Mill)

Nations develop when there is debate on ideas and policies. And people become mature when they dissent and seek an alternative viewpoint. Evolution of new thoughts and principles takes place as dissenting opinion aids in making the majority opinion better or at times, influences in rectifying the same. It shapes the intellectual landscape of a community. Therefore, it needs to be encouraged as well as to be protected.

Dissent or disagreement as such is not always 'wicked', as usually labeled by dissent haters. A healthy practice of expressing one's viewpoint cannot be just troublesome or irritating. But then, what is it that upsets the majority opinion whenever there is dissent? Why to brush-off the difference of opinion? Possibly the majority opinion is never convinced of its probity. Or either the dissent haters are blind towards the facts. The perceptual blindness, in turn, can be because of any prejudice or a vested interest that has many favorable linkages to procure.

It appears strange as to why separate opinions are so much ostracized and looked down upon. Cannot individuals think differently, and have different take on various issues? The whip to make them think alike, aimed at establishing consensus opinions sounds bizarre! Dismissing disagreement for the sake of 'unanimity' is fallacious. Unanimity is not unity. It is only a symbol of 'common ground' disguised as comradeship.

The notion that dissent encourages noncompliance is again an alibi to suppress the dissenting voices. No worldly word is final. No law is an indisputable verdict. And no rule is an unquestionable commandment. Obedience is obviously warranted but the same cannot be entailed or enforced by the killing of the dissenting opinion.

They say a dissenting opinion is often the product of the battle itself. The battle is between the dissimilar parties or individuals, arguing on a plane of right and wrong variable. Of course, both the variables are definite, and can not be relative. Right is just right, and wrong cannot be set as right, come what may. That's why dissents act as a pivot in the system of checks and balances. It is a pointer for the brooding soul, an indicator to the future which may get betrayed by the incorrect estimation or projection of the majority opinion.

Societies, institutions and organizations need dissenters to save these from collapsing due to 'consensus virus' that slaughters the independent thinking and prolongs the culture of mindless compliance. The concurring minds are never ingenious and innovative since they have nothing to offer and hence, no dissent. They agree to everything and sign in every decision. The 'Herd Mentality' is their hallmark.

To be an honest dissenter is not that easy and painless. It needs moral courage to speak up and disagree. It needs challenging tolerance to face victimization for committing the 'sin to object'. It needs strong self-sufficiency to withstand lobby pressures and not getting bogged down by ruthless criticism. It needs indigenous merit and competence to go against the majority opinion and face the music all-time.

Dissenters cannot hope to revamp the various systems operating in the nation overnight. Be it political, social, academic or administrative etc. They can just put the brakes on the growing process of degeneration, injustice and unfairness, trying to slow it down to the extent that the nation does not go nuts, altogether. The situation that will descend into anarchy; pushing us into a kind of mob rule or majority rule, where what counts is merely the heads, and not what is actually contained in the heads.

Well said that 'a dissenter is the gladiator making a last stand against the lions'. Over here, the crushed gladiators are rare. And the crutched lions are ruling the roost.

God save us. God save this nation!

J & K Bank Woman Entrepreneur Of Year

Rubeena's floriculture venture touches new heights

Srinagar: Behind every successful man, there is a woman, may sound a cliché. But its paraphrasing has seldom been done as few men have contributed to the success of females in their entrepreneurial ventures or other professional fields.

Here is one such example. Rubeena Tabassum of Yarikalan Chadoora Budgam, a house wife, who aspired to become an entrepreneur, received a huge setback when the financial institutions declined to provide her assistance for establishing a unit dealing in commercial floriculture, the training for which she received from Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI).

"When I submitted the detailed project report about the floriculture unit to the Bank in 2006, they categorically declined to provide any loan and termed the concept as new and not a viable one," Rubeena told Greater Kashmir. After rejection from the Bank, Rubeena said that she saw her dreams shattered for the lack of financial support. However, the aspiring entrepreneur received the much needed financial support from her husband, who took the consumer loan and financed the project.

According to Rubeena, she also received moral support and cooperation from JKEDI during the tough times and struggle in her endeavour. "I am highly thankful and extend my gratitude to the consultant hired by the EDI for showing the way to establish the unit and marketing the products in New Delhi," Rubeena said.

"I acquired four kanal of land on lease, developed it and erected three green houses with the help of EDI consultant, naming it M/S United Floritech at Budgam," Rubeena said. Rubeena said that she planted carnation flower, also called noble flower, imported from Delhi in all the three green houses and later sold the produce successfully in Delhi's flower mandi.

The entrepreneurs said in 2007 she planted carnations in five green houses and also cultivated Lillium under agro-shade nets. "We harvested the crop and dispatched it to Delhi, wherein the flowers were sold in a jiffy," she said adding the flower grading comprising size, colour, height and stem structure was much better than others brought from different States. She said the carnation gives two crops in a year while as Lillium bulbs can be stored and re-planted to have another crop.

Rubeena, after successfully cultivating the crop and making a good profit, was approached by the financial institutions willing to support her project. "I was amazed to see the overwhelming response of these institutions who earlier refused to provide any loan," Rubeena said adding that after receiving assistance from one of the bank, she expanded her business by procuring more land and erecting two more green houses taking its number to seven. The entrepreneur said that she also received 5-year grant under technological mission of National Horticulture Board (NHB).

"This year, we planted Lillium in two green houses and did open cultivation of Gladiolus on six more kanal of land," she said. Rubeena said adding a small nursery of aromatic plants like lavender and Rosademisene has also been established in the unit. She said the produce of the crop has been sent to Delhi and has fetched good amount of money.

Rubeena said that she wants to further expand her business by going into business of aromatic plants on huge scale and extraction of oil.

The recipient of "J&K Bank woman entrepreneur of the year 2006 award" from the JK Bank chairman Dr. Haseeb Drabu on "International Women's Day," for excelling in floriculture, Rubeena said that she intended to become a medico at an earlier age. "Now I regret the days I wished to become a doctor. I had never dreamt that I would do something that will bring me such laurels. The best thing about successful entrepreneurship is that it is a job-generating enterprise. I can provide employment to people," she said while giving all the credit to her husband for making a name for herself.

(Greater Kashmir)

Promoting Tourism in the age of Climatic Changes

Two articles of relevance on September 27, the World Tourism Day

Tourism and climate challenge

Mahesh Kaul

Jammu: Tourism is an economic activity that has an impact on almost every sphere of human life. It cannot thrive in isolation as it depends on peripheral industries like transportation, accommodation etc. But with the passage of time and economic boom all over the world, the tourist demand has been affected in many ways as it has made great impact on the disposable income.

This has been a blessing for the destinations that have spots of great tourist appeal. The influx of tourists to the destination areas has solved the problem of the host community to some extent. But unfortunately the planners and policy makers in majority of the destination areas marketed the destination without taking into consideration the carrying capacity, infrastructure and other parameters like the cultural beliefs of the host populations. It has resulted in conflict between the host and the guest (tourist). But handling of such conflicts to some extent has been manageable.

Another important factor that is posing a serious challenge to the tourism professionals, policy makers and the tourism organisations is the "climate change". No part of the world is today free from this threat to the environment and hence, tourism. The world climate is today guided by uncertainties. In the present scenario the realities of tourism within the context of global climate change are in terms of its impact as far as adaptation to it at tourism destinations is concerned and the economic risks of climate change. It leads to tourism "vulnerability hot spots". Other realities are the implication for the tourism demand at the destination area, impact on the climate as resource for tourism, tourist behavior arising from climate change, impact of the mitigation policies on tourism demand. Emissions from tourism activities, the calculation of emissions from the tourism sector and its mitigation policies have caught the imagination of all the professionals linked with the tourism directly or indirectly. To meet the challenges posed by the global climate change the United

Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has proposed this year's theme for the World Tourism Day as -"Tourism: Responding to the Challenge of Climate Change". The determination to face this challenge lies in the input from the 2nd International Conference on Climate Change and Tourism, convened by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in Davos, Switzerland in 2007, now popularly known as Davos Declaration. The stress has been laid to change habits , position renewable sources of energy, encouraging the tourism stakeholders to adapt, to mitigate and to use new technology. Emphasis is also to secure finance for the poor countries to respond to the climate change.

Davos declaration has helped to identify the following challenges that need to be faced head on as far as the global climate change is concerned:
1) Effective policy making
2) Capacity building
3) Financial Systems to support adaptation and mitigation activities
4) Reduction of knowledge gaps
5) Address vulnerability hot spots
6) Multidisciplinary action
Effective policy making is the key to any plan that can be materialized into workable action plan. It needs the inclusion of professionals from various fields that have bearing on tourism product or destination. Capacity building is needed not only in terms of the destination but also in terms of the human resource that is involved in the handling of tourism. It is more or less linked with imparting the adaptation techniques to see threats in terms of climate change as opportunities.

For that the scientific methods need to be simplified and not over simplified so that the adaptation does not lose its lustre. Financial support system is the backbone of any economic activity. The policy of setting up of financial support systems for the adaptation and mitigation activities is based on the policy that the developed countries will not be allowed to discriminate against the developing countries. It has been clearly stated in the Davos Declaration that the adaptation to respond to climate change is meant for the developing countries and the mitigation of carbon products is meant for the developed nations. Reduction of knowledge gaps means that the technical knowhow should be communicated in effective manner from the experts and scientists to common people in simplified language so that there is no communication barrier; thus leading transformation to be seen in the destination area in vivid manner. To address vulnerability spots is the key area of concern. The attention should be focussed on the areas that are prone to natural calamities like tropical storms, heavy rains, floods, drought, coastal erosion etc. so that the adaptability measures are implemented to minimize the adverse effect on the tourism and the tourist activity.

As already said in the beginning that tourism cannot thrive in isolation. It involves the support of various peripheral organizations and fields like transport, railways, airways, waterways, scientific community (like geographers, conservators, conservation architects, historians, etc.).Thus integration of these experts and many more is required to develop multidisciplinary action to face the threat of global climate change in order to develop sustainable tourism for better, peaceful and eco-friendly world.

Srinagar: On this World Tourism Day, Kashmir tourism industry is battling with uncertainty about its viability, particularly in the aftermath of recent unrest which saw tourism coming to a grinding halt here.

Until June this year, the inflow of tourists was smooth but due to worsening of situation following Amaranth land row, the rush of tourist dipped steeply.

People associated with tourism blame the Kashmir's economic blockade by Jammuites for the dwindling tourist traffic.

"Thanks to Jammu for economic blockade, our business has came to a halt," says president Houseboat Owners Association.

According to the available data, by June this year, 4,65,000 tourists visited Kashmir. Tourism department had expected around 10 lakh tourists visiting Kashmir by the year-end, but now they will have to readjust their expectations as well as figures.

"We were expecting highest number of tourists this year but unfortunately this time the number of tourists in not to out liking; it is very low," Director Tourism, Farooq Ahmed Shah says.
Reports further say that almost three lakh reservations were cancelled in the wake of the recent agitations and an almost equal number of expected unreserved tourists backed out due to uncertainty in Kashmir.

To restore the confidence of tourists from outside, government is planning many steps. "We are using print as well as electronic media to publicize our tourist destinations and we are sending across a message that Kashmir is a safe place," Shah adds.

Tourism is one of the major industries of Kashmir and a large number of families survive on it.
"Almost 1200 house boat families depend entirely on tourism trade and then there are Shikara owners, ponny walas and others. This counts for about 20 lakh people," president Houseboat Owners Association says.

It is pertinent to mention here that since 1980, September 27 is celebrated by the World Tourism Organization as World Tourism Day. The purpose of this day is to display awareness that tourism is vital to the international community and to show how it affects the social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide.

September 27 is important since on that day in 1970, the Statutes of the WTO were adopted. The adoption of the statutes is considered to be a milestone in global tourism.

Will Cross Border Trade Replace Cross Border Violence?

If the cross LOC trade is allowed to turn into a functional reality, it will certainly be the most powerful CBM, notwithstanding scepticism and cynical rejection

(Shuhab Hashmi, 38, was born in Baramulla, and graduated from the Degree College in Sopore, and completed his M.A. from the University of Kashmir. He is a Columnist, and in his spare time enjoys reading, discussions and traveling.)

Cross-Border Trade

Opening up of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad, as well as Poonch-Rawlakot road for the trade purposes is no doubt the biggest Confidence Building Measure vis-à-vis Kashmir agreed upon by India and Pakistan in the last 60 years. There have been numerous agreements between the two rival neighbours but most of them have revolved round the interests of either Islamabad or New Delhi.

For example the conversion of ceasefire line into Line of Control (LoC) was in the greater interest of India to which a lame duck Pakistani establishment agreed upon under pressure, in the backdrop of humiliating defeat in Dhaka. Earlier the Indus Water Treaty was again in favour of India and Pakistan to safeguard their water interests that too at the cost of huge economic losses the Jammu and Kashmir has suffered.

With the onset of armed rebellion in Kashmir, there has hardly been a movement forward on addressing the issues common to the people on both sides of the divide. Pakistan's known rhetoric that Kashmir is a jugular vein and that it supports the struggle on moral, diplomatic and political front would stop only there. But opening Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road and later Poonch-Rawlakot road was certainly a big milestone in the process of coming to the rescue of lakhs of people who had been running from pillar to post to get permission and the formalities of visit done to see each other. There is no doubt a big question mark over the procedure being adopted in issuing the travel permits and it is not in measure with the expectations of the people, nevertheless, every month nearly 500 people mostly on Poonch-Rawlakot route travel to the other side. This is clear that the permits have so far been restricted to divided families and in many of their cases as well inordinate delays have become the hallmark of the process. Since the number of divided families in Poonch-Rajouri belt and on the other side in that area is higher the numbers are always on an up. This step as part of the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan has certainly come as a major relief for those who cannot ordinarily afford to travel to Delhi to get visa and move on further to Pakistan and its Administered Kashmir. One cannot deny the fact that the cumbersome procedure is a major hiccup to make it the most enviable CBM in the process, but to discredit it out rightly would also not be fair on part of those who do not see it 'serving their interests'.

Now the opening of these roads for trade purposes from October 21 is yet another leap in the process, notwithstanding the fact that it is overshadowed by the similar apprehensions. Those talking about it and involved in the process have been repeatedly making their concerns public. First concern was that apple was not part of the list which obviously would have made it meaningless. While India and Pakistan have tread on a new path of reconciliation as was evident from the New York statement of September 24, need is that all what has been written in the renewed pledge to end hostilities should be followed in letter and spirit. Merely starting the trade and making it hostage to the same procedural wrangling would prove counter-productive and make the whole exercise meaningless. To make the trade purposeful would mean that there should be no bar on any trade and it should serve as yet another road like Srinagar-Jammu highway. This road's importance has increased manifold in the recent weeks after hundreds of thousands of people braved bullets to cross it in search of an alternative. That was necessitated after economic blockade enforced by the Hindu right wing people in Jammu. So it demands that from essential commodities to handicraft to fruit, everything should be part of the lists which are likely to be finalized by the Chambers of Muzaffarabad and Srinagar by the middle of next month.

Whatever the reactions from political parties at the outset the people in general have welcomed the announcement, though with same apprehensions. In the long chain of reactions one is interesting, though not on unexpected lines. That is when the Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani termed it as a "non issue". Geelani needs to explain to the people that if this was a non issue why the senior executive member of Hurriyat Conference Sheikh Abdul Aziz, who laid down his life on this road, was leading the procession. It was the joint programme of all the separatists including Geelani to support the Muzaffarabad Chalo call given by traders. Both the Hurriyats had initially endorsed the three point charter of demands which included opening of this road for trade purposes, releasing of detainees and withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act. As they saw the Azadi sentiment rejuvenating they extended their agitation for the larger goal of freedom forgetting that what they had demanded a week earlier. The leaders are duty bound to make the position clear to the masses to avoid confusion.

This development has also unveiled a new facet in the Kashmir struggle which is, that for each single demand which ultimately is part of a larger demand the sacrifices have to be split. For re-opening of this road earlier for bus service a rally organized by PDP was attacked in which 13 people got killed. And this time the mass movement for the road took a heavy toll of over 50 people. Are we heading towards a compartmentalised structure of sacrifices to achieve the larger goal is the moot question. If so it is then better to follow exactly the same procedure to prevent the innocent lives from perishing. Leaders should think.

Bringing Knowledge to People Obsessed With Politics is not Easy

Forget books, even free internet does not overcome public indifference towards libraries

Trove Of Knowledge Lies Shunned, Ignored

Srinagar: A rare collection of almost 80,000 books has failed to evoke any interest from the book lover. The treasure trove of rare books in piled up in one of the oldest libraries in the valley but most of the books have remained unread.

The Sri Pratap Singh (SPS) Central library at Lal Mandi Srinagar is the oldest library in Srinagar. Armed with 80,000 books on a wide range of subjects the library has now turned high tech with the introduction of internet facilities also.

"Most of the times I have come to the library I have found it deserted as people in the city and elsewhere lack awareness about the literary assistance they can get from this library," Bashir Ahmad, a retired teacher said. Bashir Ahmad blamed the present curriculum for this state of affairs. "Students in most of the schools have been put under tremendous pressure and stress to devote most of their time in academic studies," he added.

The Sri Pratap Singh library was established in 1898. It is a free, government-run facility with just a few hundred registered members. The assets of this library range from pre-historical to modern times, from newspapers to philosophical texts and from modern studies to religious manuscripts.

Most people who visit this library prefer to read current affairs besides books on general studies. The visitors by and large belong to student community and engage themselves with material other than their academic subjects. Subject related books are either not available or are obsolete. "I mostly read newspapers and magazines. Books related to my subject are not available here", says Irfan Bashir, a B.Sc student and a regular member of SPS Library.

The administrators of this library feel that books related to the academic syllabus are available in School and College libraries, so their prime focus is on books of general significance. "The syllabus oriented books are available in academic institutions so we prefer to procure books of wider scope and greater interest", says Kuldeep Singh, Deputy Director, Book purchasing committee, SPS library.

In April 2006, internet was introduced in the library and a separate membership, almost free of cost, was started. But even this facility failed to generate interest among the visitors of the library. During their visit to the internet parlor of the library, reporters found that all computers were turned off and there was not even a single user browsing the net.

"Due to lack of awareness, such a facility goes waste. The administration did try to popularize this library but at the same time the reading habits of the people became an impediment for us," Kuldeep Singh said. "People lack awareness, and media can be used to publicize this library. But I think that our city has a low number of readers, and people prefer TV to books," he said.

Walnut Industry gets News to Cheer About

Kashmiri walnuts records bumper growth

Srinagar: In spite of the bad weather during its flowering season, the walnut industry has recorded a bumper yield this year.

According to official records, this year the annual production is likely to cross last year's total production of 146,000 metric tonnes.

"The walnuts of the Kashmir have the distinction of being best in the world and there is good demand of the walnuts in the American markets," said G M Khaki chief Horticulture office.
Cultivated over an area of 75,000 hectares, the crop adds more than 220 crores to the economy of the valley

"This year the production has been good. This will boost the trade of walnuts. We also export walnuts among other fruits from Kashmir valley and the business has been very encouraging," said Abdul Rashid parray, a walnut trader from Kulgam district.

Widely known for their superior quality and taste, Kashmiri walnuts have high demand not only in the markets in Jammu and Kashmir but also in other Countries as well.

Ghulam Rasool, another fruit dealer talking to this newspaper said that as the walnuts have been included in the cross-LoC trade, it will certainly boost the morale of the walnut growers.

"Besides selling the dry fruits in the Indian markets, we have a good demand of our produce in other Central Asian countries. If the trade is restored through the Srinagar –Muzaffarabad road then it would help us to market our produce to Iran, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan," Parray said.

Walnuts are a high-energy food, rich in oil, vitamins and minerals. This fruit happens to be a popular ingredient in baked foods. As a dry fruit, it is in great demand particularly during the autumn and winter seasons.

"No just the Indian markets but the Walnuts of Kashmir have a huge potential in the world markets," Bashir Ahmad a local trader said, adding " The export of walnuts can bring good foreign exchange to the states economy ,"

Among the tourists visiting the Kashmir valley, no shopping list is complete without walnuts to relish during the holidays and also to carry home.

The walnuts unlike other fruits of the valley have greater shelf life and can last for more than one year.

Kashmir gets its first steel processing plant

When will the agriculture sector (agrarian economy) get its due?

A First for Kashmir

Srinagar: Counseling the youth to be part in the industrialization, the Governor N. N. Vohra Monday said that central and state governments were providing immense incentives for the growth of industries in the state.

While addressing at the foundation laying ceremony of Steel Processing Unit at Industrial Growth Centre, Lassipora Pulwama, Vohra said that the 2004 Industry Policy offers wide ranging incentives to the entrepreneurs and industrialists.

Governor Vohra alongwith Union Minister of Steel, Ram Vilas Paswan laid the foundation of first of its kind 1.60 lakh tonnes annual capacity steel plant.

Vohra said that Industrial Growth Centre Lassipora spread over an area of 6000 kanals would be providing employment to over 4500 people.

"104 industrial units have been provided land in the Centre and 20 units have started functioning," he said, adding, Rs 250 crore were being invested for industrial growth in the Lassipora Centre.

Complimenting Central Government and Union Steel Ministry for setting up a steel processing unit in the valley, Vohra said that the plant would help to meet the steel demand of the valley besides assuring employment to a good number of people.

Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers and Steel Ram Vilas Paswan speaking on the occasion, said that the steel processing unit at Lassipora would be completed by next year end and would start production by January 2010.

Promising the expansion of the unit after it becomes operational, Paswan said that the unit is being set up in the Valley with a view to cover backward areas under industrialization programme.

Paswan announced that the initial cost of Rs 90 crore of the up coming unit would be enhanced to Rs 150 crore to ensure full-fledged facilities in the unit.

The Minister disclosed that the unit would provide direct employment to 500 persons and to 4000 indirectly. He also announced that the semi-skilled and unskilled work force in the unit would be engaged locally.

Paswan said that the unit will have 40000 tonnes annual capacity TMT Bar Mill, 60000 tones annual capacity cut-to-cut length line for GP coil unit and 60000 tonnes annual capacity corrugation line for GC sheets unit.

Work is worship, but why not in Kashmir?

Is it our culture that manifests in delay and denial about everthing unpleasant?

Why isn't a healthy work culture evolving in the valley?

Javaid Malik (Greater Kashmir)

Srinagar: "Work is worship," thus goes the old adage. But in Kashmir it seems to have lost its significance, as people are never tired of manufacturing excuses to shirk their work.

"It's strange that people wait for strike calls to while away their precious time in idle gossip or for remaining glued to their television sets. At times, I fail to understand why they have become lethargic and lazy. If we don't change ourselves, it will have far reaching consequences," says Ghulam Ahmad,70.

Recalling the days when he was young, Ahmad says, "When I was young, there were not many government or private jobs and most Kashmiris used to make both their ends meet by farming, trading and other chores. Our elders always used to tell us that the more we work the more we will earn."

Ahmed believes that times have changed and people with fixed salaries think no matter whether they work or not they would get their pay packets on due date.

Not many decades ago, even after doing their day's work, many people would follow gainful pursuits like growing vegetables in kitchen gardens, spinning, and embroidering. This would not only boost their earnings, it would more importantly keep them active.

Not long ago, the former chief minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, had gone whole hog to introduce what he called "work culture." For engineering disciplines, in particular, he went for double and triple shifts of working. "Despite claims, however, most government institutions function in the same leisurely manner and the work in most cases goes on at a snails pace. But, he tried at least," says Mushtaq Zahid.

Interestingly, in Kashmir the work shirkers seek refuge even in religion. A large number of Muslims abstain from work for better part of Fridays on the plea they have to offer prayer or attend a fourth day ceremony. Indeed, an hour's break is officially allowed on the day for Friday prayers. With the passage of time, many people have development some kind of inertia on such days.

The 80-year old Muhammad Yousuf Banday is upset particularly with the younger generation for staying away from work on Fridays. "Friday is an auspicious day and we just have to take one or two hours off for prayers. It's unfortunate that most people these days don't do anything on Fridays," Banday says.

An advocate who wished not to be named narrated his recent experience: "I was in my friend's office on Thursday night, and he called up one of his colleagues to assign him some important task for Friday. My friend was astonished at the response: How can I do it? It's Friday tomorrow."

Visibly concerned at the negative trend, the Grand Mufti of Kashmir, Mufti Bashiruddin says, "Shirking work is dishonesty. Almighty Allah knows our necessities and priorities. No one can shirk work in the name of Allah," he said, adding that in the holy Qur'an, Allah ordains, "The moment yee are free from Salat, spread in the land and get busy in the quest for Allah's blessings (making the livelihood)." In other words, getting busy in making a livelihood is next in importance to Salat (prayers).

Eminent sociologist of the Valley, Dr Bashir Ahmed Dabla, says that shirking work has become one of the intrinsic parts of our cultural life. "We don't value time. We can afford to waste hours together in gossip and the same reflects in our offices and homes," Dabla says, and adds, "History stands testimony to the fact that our kings used to listen to music for hours together without worrying about people. Our culture is luxurious."

The result of growing lethargy and inertia is not far to seek. From a people who used to produce many of their daily necessities, they are turning into mere consumers, and bad ones for that. The situation has degenerated to the extent that people across the valley have to import most necessities from outside and have, lately, become quite vulnerable to exploitation, political as well as economic. The recent economic blockade was just a manifestation and an eye-opener.

Saving Nageen or Killing Nageen?

It remains to be seen if the Government is capable of protecting our dying lakes

Hi-tech resort at Nigeen to attract tourists

SRINAGAR: Tourism trade may be going through a rough phase these days but the department of tourism wishes to waste no time in developing new areas for attracting the tourists in near future.
According to a local news gathering agency a fresh idea in this direction has started to take shape on the banks of the famous Nigeen Lake in Srinagar.

The department has developed a tourist resort here so that tourists coming to Srinagar feel a new and added charm around this picturesque lake.

"Nigeen Lake was the preferred destination before the onset of militancy in the state. People especially the foreigners used to throng this place," deputy director department of tourism, TK Sadhoo told the news agency.

"We are making an effort to bring Nigeen back on the tourism map by developing it like it was twenty years back. Besides, a resort is scheduled to be completed on the banks of the Lake so that more and more tourists feel attracted to visit this place", added Sadhoo.
Situated on the banks of Nigeen Lake, this resort is believed to provide impetus to the ailing tourism industry in Kashmir.

Sprawling on an area of almost 15,570 sq. ft, this resort has all facilities of high class lodging.
"It is a full-fledged resort cum club and it houses an eight bedroom guest house, lobbies, card room, restaurant, billiards room, herbal massage centers, separate steam and sona bath parlors for men and women and a multipurpose hall", Sadhoo said.

The official said that department is trying to explore the medicinal value of Kashmiri herbs and is planning to use these herbs in the massage centers of this resort.
He said "The massage centers will use Kashmiri herbs and it will help us to grow economically as well."

According to the official department is planning to use the multipurpose hall as a banquet hall and has decided to throw it open to its members on concessional rates.
"We have devised membership mechanism to provide this hall to people on concession", added Sadoo.

He informed that the multi crore project has been completed in a record time of about six months and is expected to be functional from October this year.
"We started work on this project in April this year and it's complete by now", claimed T.K Sadhoo.

With International Airport coming up at Srinagar, this resort is expected to buzz with business soon but seeing the extravagance of this resort it seems that only a particular section of tourists can enjoy its facilities.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It is Official - J&K is the Third Most Corrupt State in India

Transparency International (TI) announces its "Merit List

Most corrupt states: J&K at No: 3

Syed Junaid Hashmi (Kashmir Times)

JAMMU: Jammu and Kashmir retains the dubious distinction of being among the top ten most corrupt states of India with fig leaf type relief that in the list, it has been overtaken by Assam and Bihar at number 1 and 2 slots respectively. This less than nominal change in the dubious order is known to be more because of the higher qualification of Assam than an improvement in the standard of administration and public life in Jammu and Kashmir.

These facts brought out by Transparency International India and the Centre for Media Studies (CMS) Delhi in the India Corruption Study 2007 make a mockery of the erstwhile coalition government's claim of having cleansed public life from the menace of corruption in the state. Interestingly, this is one of the frequent theme songs of former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and patron of People's Democratic Party Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. Jammu and Kashmir achieved the dubious distinction of being 2nd most corrupt state in the country in a similar study conducted by the same agency in the year 2005. Both the former Chief Ministers vehemently claim of having reduced the level of corruption in the public life but the study points towards the continuation of the state's drift towards being crowned as the most corrupt state in the country.

This drift is alarming in the wake of the state's government's claim of having reduced the corruption to the lowest ebb during the last six years. Moreover, the study has been conducted between November 2007 and January 2008. It is the same period when former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad's cleansing operation in the forest and other departments was nearing conclusion. It is the same period which saw resignation of former Minister for School Education and Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee president Peerzada Mohammed Sayeed from both the posts. He was forced to resign after MLA Sangrama Shoaib Nabi Lone accused Sayeed of taking money from him for sanctioning an ETT college. Azad had then claimed that "state has done remarkably well in reducing corruption from the public life". But the study of the transparency international belies the claims of the former Chief Minister.

The study, like the earlier ones, is based on CMS PEE (Perception, Experience, Estimation) model where the scope is not limited to perceptions about corruption in general, but perception in specific context of a service and, more importantly, actual experience of paying bribe by BPL households in availing one or more of the 11 selected public services in Jammu and Kashmir. Depending on the frequency of interaction, the eleven services have been divided broadly into "basic services" (Public Distribution System, Hospital, School Education, Electricity and Water Supply Services) and "need based services" (Land Records / Registration, Housing, Forest, NREGS, Banking and Police Service).

The study does not include operational irregularities in the system and any corruption that does not involve citizens, directly. Except Government Hospital and Rural Finance Institutions, most other services rank among most corrupt services in the country. The police rank the highest on the corruption index. This is followed by the Housing and land records/registration.

The study says that in these services, the percentage of those who think corruption has increased in the previous one year is also high. It further affirms that these services are monopolistic in the nature, with more scope for discretionary decision making and also because the money involved in these transactions is higher. State government has made some degree of improvement in reducing corruption in the last one year in the case of School Education and Banking services.

The study points towards the fact that despite claims and some initiatives for redressal of complaints in services like Police, they have not helped either in reducing perceptions nor experiences of corrupt practices in the public life. Within State among the various Departments in the State, 78 percent of the respondents conceived Police as the most corrupt department, followed by Housing (70 percent) Land Administration (69 percent), Public Distribution System (54 percent), NREGS (47 percent) and Hospital (46 percent).

It is important to mention here that Jammu and Kashmir has been the only state which passed a bill to attach the assets of corrupt public officials when there is prima-facie evidence against them, pending investigations and prosecutions.

However, the study affirms that corruption has remained unaffected and Infact, increased to alarming levels in the Police Services and Land Records / Registration. Two other notable features which came out in present have been that petty corruption was markedly less when technology was used for delivery of the service and when Civil Society Groups were involved in assisting citizens.

A Counterpoint Against Recent Commentaries Critical of Hurriyat

Riyaz offers a counterpoint in defense of the Hurriyat

Expecting too much from APHC shows how little we know about others

(Mr. Riyaz Masroor, 36, was born and raised in Srinagar. He is a Srinagar based journalist who writes in English, Urdu and kashmiri. Besides working in the local press, his articles have appeared on BBC Radio online, Himal Southasia and the Journal of International Federation of Journalists.)

Most Kashmiri column writers seem to have held hostage their critical thinking to the problems of Hurriyat Conference and its loose affiliates. I have earlier mentioned in these lines that the Hurriyat Conference is the product of a particular situation not the creator of this situation.
I may elaborate that the Hurriyat, therefore, is neither the total problem nor the total solution. It, in fact, may be part of the solution yet it is not even the part of the problem.

When the opinion makers hand out lengthy prescriptions of strategy to APHC telling it how to protect the people and ensure their survival, it is the sheer display of conceptual uncertainty that is rampant among our tiny yet much celebrated writer community.

If the purpose of their stingy writings is to empower the popular aspirations with reason and knowledge and orient these aspirations toward healthy progression, that purpose is sadly being defeated by expecting a right thing from a wrong quarter.

Take for example these expectations:
• Hurriyat should protect life from further annihilation
• Transform the resistance concept from a death-aspiring into a life-saving model.
• Enrich the concept of freedom with relevant content to make the advocacy a success.

These expectations have no problem per se. But two things become clear in these expectations, recurrently appearing in Kashmir's English press. For one, Hurriyat Conference is mistakenly understood as an entity endowed with state powers.

Secondly, while heaping scorn over the separatists for their incapacity to "lead the nation" our worthy writers show an unhealthy continuation of primitive understanding about the concept of leadership.

Let's take these conceptual flaws about political expectations and definition leadership one by one.


Anyone trying to understand the Kashmir issue in isolation with the modern systems of governance and public welfare is most likely to digress in the course of his or her commentary. Before we attach too many expectations to APHC we better have a review of our general knowledge about the duties of a democratic government.

The primary aims of government, says Bertrand Russell in one of the famed Reith Lectures of BBC, should be three: security, justice and conservation. "These," according to Russell, "are things of the utmost importance to human happiness, and they are things which only government can bring about."

Just compare Russell's model of governance and the aforementioned expectations from Hurriyat Conference and you will know how erroneously a dissenter group riding over the popular sentiment is being elevated to the status of a government.

'Liberty of the subject' and 'rights of man' is the ideal which the champions of human rights have espoused and achieved. But they achieved these goals when their point of dissent and criticism was an unjust government not a group, however faulty, sharing their ideals.

Protection of public life is a security debate, which should not be confused with conflict politics. And security can only be expected from a government, howsoever flawed in character and form.
How funny it looks when the government forces kill unarmed civilians our writers cry: Hurriyat should stop this and don't let more people die. Why this unnecessary importance to Hurriyat leaders? Is it possible when the killing of innocent persons has their 'calendar of protests' in tatters and people disobey their calls and take to streets?

It is not the question of who should ensure the public security; the question is who can actually ensure the public security. Some columnist may wish that Hurriyat should provide public safety, but the bitter fact is only the government can do that.

When expression of dissent at mass level is dealt with brute force, forces like Hurriyat get automatically relevant because they have allied themselves with the dominant sentiment. People respect the alliance not the person. Syed Ali Geelani may have contested more elections than Omar Abdullah but the former derives social sanctity out of the alliance he has forged with the popular sentiment. We have seen a former minister, late Abdul Gani Lone, espousing the Kashmir cause and yet drawing crowds in the name of Azadi.

When such socially credible but politically powerless forces are urged to "safeguard public life" it is like deriding the popular sentiment because such calls make it appear as 'destructive', though destruction comes when some actors choose to mess up. So, those enjoying affinity with sentiment cannot ensure safety but those flirting with the sentiment besides enjoying power can do that if they wish so. When a smaller player is assigned with a bigger role things are more likely to go wrong.


Much of the newsprint has been blackened in Kashmir to lament over the "leadership vacuum". A quick glance over the evolving definitions of the leadership will tell us how much flawed and mythological this debate has been.

The leadership is nowadays said to be an occasional act, not a fixed role, which can come from any direction. In the same parlance Hurriyat Conference, in this multi-act conflict theater has been an occasional actor, not a lead role player (Though it sometimes wants to play the lead role).

In fact, there is no lead actor. We've witnessed occasional leadership acts coming from National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, APHC and United Jihad Council. All of them have their own set of stigmas and flaws yet all of them have provided an occasional act of leadership with varying degrees of importance during their respective innings.

Their achievements and failures have to be understood and critically analyzed in the light of a 'background role' played by New Delhi and Islamabad. Hurriyat leaders are not the only ones in the game and they don't possess the magic lamp of Aladdin. Are our writers willing to introspect?

A Story of Grit, Resilience and Hope

Afsana reports on a mother that is determined to see justice done even when she has to do it alone

(Ms. Afsana Rashid, 29, was born and raised in Srinagar and attended the Minto Circle High School. She graduated from the Government College for Women with a Bachelor's degree in science, and completed her post-graduation degree from the University of Kashmir, obtaining her Master's Degree in Mass Communication and Journalism. She has received numerous world-wide recognition and awards for covering economic depravation and gender sensitive issues in Kashmiri journals, which include Sanjoy Ghose Humanitarian Award, Bhorukha Trust Media Award 2007, and the 2006-07 UNFPA-Ladli Media Award. Her work on "Impact of conflict on subsistence livelihood of marginalised communities in Kashmir and Alternatives", was recognized by Action Aid India in 2005-06. She has travelled abroad attending a workshop on "conflict Reporting" by Thomson Foundation, Cardiff, UK, and a seminar for women in conflict areas by IKV Pax Christi, Netherlands. In February 2008, she compiled a book, "Waiting for Justice: Widows and Half-widows.")

After losing four sons, Hajra fights for Survival

Srinagar: After losing four sons during the ongoing conflict, Hajra Bano, a resident of Wanigam village of Bandipora district finds it very difficult to carry on with the daily chores of life.
It also becomes difficult for her to take part in the monthly sit in carried out by Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP).

Three sons of Hajra were martyred while as the fourth one was made to disappear.
Aged Hajra lived with her ailing husband till he passed away last winter. With great difficulty the couple eked their living. Now, left to fend on her own, Hajra hardly finds any to share her agonies and trauma.

With sobbing eyes, she feels guilty as she could not repay her husband's couple of debts. "I would love to repay them even if I have to go hungry for days together but it is not manageable," says Hajra adding, "There is no one with whom I could share my pains and sufferings."
Hajra says she lived with her younger son till recently "but he abandoned her, two months ago." She added that her daughters are married and they seldom visit her. "I don't regret that, after all they can't help me much," said Hajra.

After her son abandoned her, Hajra herself has to look for her necessities. "When I last time left for Srinagar to join the protest, I simply had black nun-chai (tea without milk) as I can't afford milk. I take meals once a day. It was one of my neighbours, who donated a sack of raw rice to me. But my son hardly cares…," says the aged-mother.

"Be aasis shaheedain hinz mouj, mya kya gow (I was a mother of martyrs, what happened to me)," said Hajra, who was operated upon few months back owing to certain health ailments. "Doctor had advised me to take medicines. Sometimes, I miss them out due to non-affordability," she said.

"Often" Hajra continues, "My pains turn unbearable but death is beyond your control. Though number of times, I wish to dig a grave for myself at least that would relieve me of my anxieties, but …" laments Hajra.

An apt case for widow-fund, Hajra says she is not its beneficiary. "It involves cumbersome procedure and who will take all those cudgels to get it sanctioned in my favour. Many people approached me with one or other reason promising to help but nothing is visible in the real sense," said Hajra in a fragile voice.

Hajra, a symbol of courage, has not succumbed. Despite all this she continues her fight. She has filed a case in State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) though she is not satisfied with its progress and doubts that she would get a verdict in her favour.

"For the last so many years I am approaching SHRC to seek justice but till date my efforts have borne no fruits. There is no one except Almighty who will help me. I will fight till my last breath," vows Hajra.

Last time when APDP staged the monthly sit in Hajra had few bucks in her pocket. Boarding the first (Bandipora-Batamaloo) bus of the day, Hajra covered a distance of three kilometers on foot (Batamaloo–Lal Chowk) to reach the spot where protest is to be held.

Narrating her woeful tale Hajra says, "Since I had not a penny in my pocket, I sold hen for Rs. 50 to my neighbour and insisted her to pay more keeping into consideration bird's weight. But she refused and I had no other option. Finally, I made it to the spot (where protest was staged by the Association)," said Hajra, while talking to this newspaper.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

When Security Personnel Form a Nexus With Local Timber Smugglers, it is Another Kind of War

The Editorial in the Rising Kashmir plays up one side of the story, but the role of local unscrupulous officials among the State Forest Department is even more dastardly

War on forests

BSF personnel caught smuggling wood points towards a scandalous phenomenon in Kashmir

Ever since militancy erupted in our state, many brutal things happened under the cover of fighting it. Not just life and routine of Kashmir became a casualty to the unbridled powers given to security forces, but our resources too were subjected to a large scale loot and plunder.

The news about Border Security Forces personnel being caught while smuggling illicit timber by the Forest officials in Bandipora district, north Kashmir, is a miniscule part of a bigger phenomenon. There is an eyewitness account that has provided the details of it to the media. The incident is not an isolated one. From past two decades we have been a witness to a large scale felling of trees by unscrupulous elements, both civil and defence.

Since the forest areas have been made, literally out of bounds for a common man, these unscrupulous elements get a free hand in inflicting heavy damage to our forests. All of it may not get reported, rather very little trickles down to media circles but the general impression among the people in Kashmir is that security forces are taking an undue advantage of the circumstances and are involved in stealing the green gold at an enormous level. The concerned civil officials find themselves in a helpless situation because in the border areas and the forest divisions Army and Para military forces are the real masters. No one has the power to stop them from smuggling the wood from the forests of Kashmir. Since in the absence of any civilian check security forces enjoy unrestricted access to forest areas and the fact that none dares check their vehicles, the cutting of trees and smuggling the wood to the areas where they are needed is an easy affair for the security forces.

The news report about Bandipora incident also makes it clear. When the Forest officials, according to eyewitness account, fearing reprisal seized just one log and let the troopers carry the remaining three to their camp, how can one expect that the smuggling of wood can be stopped? When the Forest officials know that the wood is being smuggled for making furniture, which is later carried to the residential houses of security forces outside J&K and still fail to take any action, who is going to help us out?

Although it has not still been reported, but people apprehend that there is a nexus between artisans, labourers, mostly from outside state, and some people among security forces to use the wood smuggled from forests for various works in the security forces’ camps. Hefty bills are later framed against the work done. This way a patterned plunder of our forests is occurring, and there seems to be no end to it, unless the higher officials of the various security forces organisation, including Army, take cognisance of the matter. It is only then that the great environmental catastrophe can be avoided. Also the NGOs working for the preservation of environment can contribute by taking up the issue at national and international level. Even the political parties of Kashmir, both mainstream and separatist, can bring the matter into public domain and let the world know about it. Unless all pool their efforts the great game of plunder is not going to stop.

Staring at the Crossroads of Reason and Rhetoric, a Patriot Suggests a way out

Ayaat has a suggestion for for politicians - the need of the hour is mature leadership to pull us out of the crisis

(Mr. Ayaat Butt lives in downtown, Srinagar.)

Reason must prevail

The voice of reason is not appeasement; it is an acknowledgment of reality. It is more pragmatism, less romanticism. Voice of reason is not prevailing over the rhetoric of hatred, both in New Delhi and Kashmir. It isn’t an issue of intention, it’s an issue of how ideology and sensibility effects the people. Both Jammu & Kashmir and New Delhi stand at the crossroads. The rhetoric is becoming shriller. Those who oppose any accommodation with Kashmir or New Delhi are leaving no stone unturned to issue warnings about the dangers that lie in the path of the reconciliation, invoking history in the bargain. As the infinitely stronger party in the conflict New Delhi must accept responsibility for its failed and oppressive policies. Here, repressive actions on the ground are continuing to feed the trend of radicalization on the pro-freedom side and are strengthening the radical viewpoint. To prove their point, they need only point out how New Delhi has not listened to any requests by the civil society to end those practices that serve to consolidate the occupation or release prisoners.

Hawks think it a mistake to negotiate with Kashmir until New Delhi creates situations of strength around the globe. I fear the Indian Political Leadership & common people would not understand the importance of saving Kashmir unless they saw how that tactical decision fit into the transcendent task of building India as future super power. India needs to blend strength with moral purpose.
The Kashmiri leadership is needed to be reminded what the fight was all about. It was not, in fact, about how the fate of Kashmir might affect its strategic situation in the south east Asia. That is how India and Pakistan thinks. It is about the fate of freedom in the State of Jammu & Kashmir.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., has said that there are times when “we need education in the obvious more than investigation of the obscure.” Think simple, not complex.

Will the leaders of Kashmir, on whom the aspirations of their desperate people rest, show the statesmanship expected of them to break out of the vicious circle or will they succumb to petty and devotee politics? Will they hand over to the next generation a future of peace and prosperity or death, destruction and uncertainty? Kashmiris are watching. We cannot afford now Kashmir going again as an intractable conflict. This time it needs a final push, so leadership needs to act, chalk out a blue print for solving the issue. You don’t need to remind Kashmiri’s the history of dispute, it is now in our blood. India also knows what Kashmir wants. They have heard much of We want sloganeering since 1947.Shows of strength and unnecessary hartals have been enough. We don’t need leaders with magnificent command on speeches and quasi-philosopher quotes or having bio-datas of jail service. We need to have negotiators, managers and experts. There is a need of very limited number of individuals who will be deciding the negotiating positions and tactics.

Lack of foresight and leadership has cost us dearly in the past. Kashmiri leadership should come forward with a masterstroke of astuteness. They have shown the representative Character. Let them challenge New Delhi to come forward for a seemingly open-ended dialogue and as such disassociate from the dead-end politics.

Despite what our political leaders say, there is a political solution to the conflict and there are partners for peace. If anything, we of the peace movement must not allow the powers-that-be to mystify the conflict, to present it as a “clash of civilizations.” The New Delhi-Srinagar conflict is political and as such it has a political solution.

Learning from history, India’s first prime minister displayed great statesmanship during the early years of Independence. India invited Lord Mountbatten to be its first Governor General. In that one gesture, all the acrimony of 200 years of colonial rule was forgotten. Later, when India became a republic, Nehru devised a formula whereby India continued to remain in the British Commonwealth. There is dire need for such statesmanship in the higher echelons of our leadership today.

Historically, longstanding and bitter conflicts have been resolved when leaders have shown statesmanship accompanied by magnanimity, a spirit of accommodation and the ability to put behind the past for the sake of a happy future.

In the 15th century, Yorkshire, represented by a white rose, and Lancashire, represented by a red rose, fought the famous War of the Roses. Ultimately, Henry of Lancaster defeated Richard III of York at the Battle of Bosworth Field to become Henry VII and found the House of Tudor. Henry promptly married Princess Elizabeth of York, in an act of reconciliation, uniting England. Rivalry has existed between Lancashire and Yorkshire ever since, although it is mainly on the cricket field, although Yorkshiremen still say that the only good thing to come out of Lancashire is the road to Yorkshire!

Both England and France, which fought each other for hundreds of years from the 14th to the 19th centuries, are today co-members of the European Union. The English still call the French “frogs’ and the French ridicule English cooking, but that has not stopped them from joining the two countries with the help of the ‘Chunnel’, a tunnel under the English Channel.

Where would we be today if world affairs were carried out in a primitive and schoolboyish he-pinched-me-first manner? Would Britain and the United States still be smarting from the American War of Independence? Would the American North and South still be wanting revenge on each other following the four-year Civil War in which over a million people died. In fact, one of the first acts of Abraham Lincoln was to set in motion the process of reconciliation.

The West has realised that a policy of forgive and forget yields far better results than vengeance and reparation. Allied leaders showed little statesmanship after the First World War, when they imposed extreme conditions on a defeated Germany by the Treaty of Versailles, creating an environment which gave rise to Hitler. The five-year Second World War resulted in millions of casualties, but this time victory also brought in its wake generosity, resulting in the establishment of the United Nations and the introduction of the Marshal Plan to revive a war-torn Europe.

No country suffered more in the Second World War than the Soviet Union, which lost 20million people, one-tenth of its population. Yet today Russia wants to join the European Union and NATO. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the country gave back to Poland the part it had usurped after the War. It also granted the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania their freedom.

In the east also, a Japan which had carried out the attack on the American fleet at Pearl Harbour and which became the only country to receive an atom bomb became the staunchest ally of the US.

Nearer present times, the United States lost nearly 65,000 men in their fifteen-year war in Vietnam. The US bombed Hanoi and mined Haiphong harbour during that war. Yet just a few years after the Americans departed from the top of the US embassy in 1974, the two countries are on friendlier grounds. A US president has made the first official visit to Vietnam and Vietnamese are flocking into the US.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Kashmiri Capitalism at its Best

A true capitalist has no ideology other than to extract financial gain from his clients

Bravo ‘beggars’

With immense faith in hospitality of Srinagarites particularly during the blessed month of Ramadhan, many so-called beggars from far-flung areas of Kashmir have started to throng the city. Undeterred by the violence across the city, these’ beggars’ have taken over almost every Masjid and shrine.

As non-local beggars had to shift their Darbar outside the state following the turmoil, the locals beggars are having a free run. You name the place, they are there and in every situation. And they are not alone. They are accompanied by all the ‘products’ rather children of all sizes and ages, some with tangled and other with oiled hair. And they consider the newborn babies as an asset rather a passport to hassle free begging.

They are quick enough to give you a chase. If you are caught walking with a girl be it your colleague or relative, they consider it as golden opportunity to earn quick bucks. They with shower the couple you with all praises and even pray for bright future of their children. “Khuda Aap KI Jodhi Salamat Rakhay,” they frequent chant like humming of a bee to the much embarrassment of the unfortunate ‘couple’.

Recently when people were fighting pitched battles with troopers in old city, an aged woman, braving the tear gas shells, approached the angry youth saying ‘please give me money.’ However after failing in her mission, she raised her voice and started to taunt the troopers praying for their defeat. Pointing towards the CRPF troopers laced with batons, she said ‘Almighty Allah will save from these brutes if you pay me alms.’ Finally, the old women succeeded with her Public Relations skills and managed to get enough coins for a big feast.

These self-styled beggars were also found roaming freely during the recent curfew. And they didn’t even spare the troopers. “May God protect you,” a beggar told a trooper. Elated to hear prayers for his safety after tasting the heavy doses of Azadi slogans and helplessly watching Ragda Ragda dance recently, the trooper was quick enough to pay the price. And the beggar emerged as a winner rather an objective beggar.

(Greater Kashmir)

When Greed Meets Opportunity

Spurious medicines in Kashmir is a relatively recent phenomenon and can be attributed to growing lawlessness in the society

Sale of sub-standard, spurious medicines surges; authorities in slumber

Zeenat Zeeshan Fazil (Kashmir Images)

Srinagar: An alleged nexus between pharmacists, medical representatives and corrupt doctors is being blamed for mushrooming of illegal medical shops across the Kashmir Valley. A senior official of Drug Control department, requesting not to be named, said, “The nexus is promoting the sale of counterfeit and sub-standard drugs in Kashmir.” He said even the supplies which are being purchased by different hospitals of the Valley “are of sub-standard quality”.

According to him, the mushrooming of illegal medical shops in the Valley has not only given rise to the dangerous trend of self-medication but is forcing people to consume sub-standard drugs. “Not to speak of rural areas, even in Srinagar city there are scores of such outlets,” the official confessed.The drugs, which are supplied to government hospitals, usually do not conform to the specifications laid down in the Drug Act, he informed. As per the terms of supply, drugs supplied should match the specification laid down in the Drug Act and payment to the suppliers is to be released only after successful test are conducted on these drugs by the Drug and Food Control Organization.

Chief Medical Officer of SMHS Hospital, Dr. Altaf Ahmed told ‘Kashmir Images’: “Outside the SMHS Hospital, 60 percent medical shops are illegal and the drugs available are usually of sub-standard quality, the higher authorities are aware of it but they hardly take any action.”Such shops are opened at every corner of the city, he regretted, adding that someone who has works only for three months in any medical shop, opens his own shop in the fourth month “and in this way they are playing with the lives of people and nobody is stopping them.”He further informed that when the contract of any drug is given to any company, “at that time the samples received by the department are up-t-the-mark, but later that quality is not maintained and that happens because there is nobody to check it.”

When asked how many times the drug department has visited the SMHS Hospital in the last three months, Dr. Altaf informed: “To my knowledge they have never visited even though I request them to visit frequently in order to check diverse samples … If they do so, they will also serve to the society.”

With Tourism Having Tanked, Can the Cross Border Commerce Bring Some Hope?

As the tourist trade sinks, the hope shifts to upcoming visit by a Pakistani business delegation (two related stories)

Pak business delegation to visit state

Jammu: A 15-member traders’ delegation from Pakistan-administered Kashmir is scheduled to arrive in Jammu and Kashmir later this month to finalise commerce between the two parts of the state.

According to official sources here, the delegation will be arriving in Srinagar, the summer capital of the state, Sep 22 to hold talks with Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) and other business organisations to finalise the cross border trade between the divided parts of the state.

The delegation, said the sources, would also hold meetings with the state government officials and hold similar talks here Sep 25 and 26.

‘A list of articles to be traded (across the de facto border between India and Pakistan) has been prepared by either side. They include 13 Pakistani items that can come to this side while there are about 26 Indian items that can go there,’ said president of Chamber of Commerce and Industries in Jammu Ram Sahai.

Pakistani items that can be marketed in Indian Kashmir include precious stones, namdas (small rough wool embroidered carpets), furniture, medicinal herbs, embroidered items, pinenuts, spices, dry seeds, dry dates, Bengal grams, pulses and rock salt.

Traders from this side of the border would be sending carpets, wall hangings, paper machie, shawls, crewel embroidery, Kashmiri woolen products, cricket bats, silk, Kashmiri dry fruits, Kashmiri wazwan (special food delicacies), basmati rice, fresh fruits, black mushroom, red kidney beans and green tea besides other items.

The trade is expected to start from two points — Uri-Muzaffarabad in the Kashmir valley and Poonch-Rawalakot in the Jammu region.

A similar delegation from Indian side of Kashmir will be visiting Pakistani side in October this year to give final touches to the quantum and tune of trade to be carried out between two sides,’ said the officials.

The trade between the two parts of Kashmir is expected to start in late October.(ENS)

Turbulence trounces tourist industry: More than hundred thousand would-be-tourists back out

Srinagar: At least 1,50,000 tourists have cancelled their trip to the Valley during past two months of uncertainty in the State causing a huge loss to the tourist industry- the backbone of the State economy. According to official figures, more than one and a half lac tourists have dropped the idea of spending their holidays in the Valley during past two months owing to the ongoing turmoil in the State.

Tourist industry, considered as a backbone of state economy, has incurred huge loss as the main season of tourist influx- June to September- witnessed a sudden uprise of people against transfer of land to Amarnath Shrine Board by the State government. With the onset of summers, hundreds of thousands of tourists started pouring in to the Valley from within the country and abroad. But the land row forced these tourists to cut short their visits and they started fleeing from the Valley as soon as protests against land transfer started picking up.

It would be pertinent to mention that during past few years, number of tourists, both national and international, had increased manifold as the normalcy, although for a short period, during these years had attracted tourists from all across the globe.All the sections of the society, directly or indirectly associated with the industry, have sustained losses and demand they be compensated by the government.“I had booked vehicles and hotels for two months before land controversy as the season seemed promising owing to the huge influx of tourists early this season. But the land controversy turned everything upside down,” said a tour operator Ghulam Muhammad, adding “Now it is my humble request to the authorities to compensate those who have incurred losses.”

Mushtaq Ahmad, who runs hotel at Boulevard road, while narrating his story of losses said “Come to my hotel and see it is deserted. It is really painful when you see all the rooms of hotel are vacant”.“Earlier this season, we had to return tourists who asked for the lodging as all the rooms were occupied”, he added.When asked about his business, Abdul Rehman, a Shikara owner, while pointing towards Boulevard road said, “The deserted look of this otherwise busy road tells everything”.

With Most Private Schools Per Capita in India, Kashmir has yet to Produce Outstanding Academic Scholars on a Consistent Basis

And here is the reason why - three related stories on issues of the day disturbing the young scholarly minds in Kashmir ...

School children burdened with extra classes

Srinagar: The announcement of curtailment of holidays and holding of extra classes by most of the educational institutions to compensate for the loss of working days in the wake of the recent mass agitation has not gone well with the parents of lower class students. They believe that such measures are suitable for the higher classes only as small children need more time to comprehend the lessons.

Many parents spoke to Rising Kashmir regarding the “inaptness” of holding extra classes for primary class students with curtailment of holidays. Parents blamed the school authorities of overburdening the students of primary classes by assigning them many assignments with tight deadlines.

One of the parents, Kuldeep Kour expressed serious concern for “coercing” the children to complete the already large syllabus by the school authorities to meet the examination in time without bearing in mind its negative effects on the children.“Due to heavy workload in school my son who is in 4th standard felt unconscious and subsequently became febrile,” she said.

Muhammad Rafiq another parent said, “With the pending of the syllabus, the school authorities besides conducting frequent classes give tough assignments to the children, which is really frustrating for them.”Rafiq said the timetable for examination has been set taking into account the programme of the Coordination Committee which indicates that the schools are more eager to rid themselves of the burden rather then sincerely thinking of compensation of the loss of working days.

Parents are of the opinion that the students of primary classes should be promoted to the next class in time and if felt necessary the examinations of the previous classes can be held during the first or second month of the new academic session.“This way any loss of time is made good and no one escapes from being examined properly,” added Rafiq.

Commenting on the issue, Director Education, Shagufta Parveen said, “I don’t think the primary classes have huge syllabus. But since the parents are complaining about it, we will look into the matter for its immediate solution.”

Sopore college students stage demo : Demand relaxation in time, syllabus

Sopore: Students of Sopore Degree College on Monday staged protest demonstrations demanding reduction in syllabus in view of the time lost due to strikes and curfew imposed in the Valley.

Infuriated over the decision of Kashmir University to hold examinations on time with complete syllabus, hundreds of students protested in college campus demanding relaxation in time and syllabus.Shouting slogans against Kashmir University and government, students said the varsity decision of holding examinations on time is injustice with them. "We have just completed 20 percent syllabus. We were ignored in the meeting of Principals where the decision of conducting examinations was taken," said a student Javid Ahmed of B.A 3rd year. "They should change time of examination or reduce syllabus otherwise we will take to streets now," said Tunfail Inafayat, a student of final year."We have already lost time of two months due to strikes and curfew.

It seems that they are taking revenge on us for taking part in protests by holding examination on time," the students said adding that they will continue with the protests.Later the students dispersed peacefully after submitting memorandum to the Principal of the college demanding relaxation in syllabus.The class work was hit in the college as students took part in protests.

Students appeal to KU authorities

Srinagar: Students from various professional colleges today appealed to the Kashmir University authorities to allow them to take their vehicles into the campus premises during examinations period. A group of students of Government Medical College here said they were not allowed to take in their vehicles into campus. “We appeal to the authorities to treat our admit cards as vehicle passes,” said a women student of pre-final. The students said they have to walk a long distance to reach their respective centres.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Bible of Resistance that the Hurriyat Conference wants us to follow is apocryphal

Mehmood: If the resistance-calendar framed for us by Geelani Sahib constitutes the Genesis of this book, then sorry to say, it is not about creation; it is about annihilation

(Mr. Mehmood-ur-Rashid, mid-30's, lives and works in Srinagar.)

Reverse the order of things

Geelani SahIb walks down the Mount Resistance and hands over to his people the commandments for protest. It enjoins on us to carry forward the programme of protest; succinctly put, it includes Just a few days of routine work, interspersed by programmes of protest, punctuated (punctured!) by the strike calls and half-strike calls (Fridays) and concluded with the call to assemble at Lal Chowk.


Not encouraged to undertake any detailed analysis or critique of this programme of protest, one can terminate the topic only by saying this much; this programme is disappointing, if not ridiculous. And that is to say the least. There cannot be any better and easier way to burn the resources of resistance than the continued disruption of life that was announced by Hurriyat Conference. To buy from Orwellian improvements on language, it is an un-programme, rather than a programme. It is like switching off an entire nation.

It never means that disruption and protest has no significance in any Resistance movement. What it means is that exclusive reliance on cessation-of-routine and disruption-of-life is an indication of resistance movement being shorn of vision and bereft of purpose. It uncovers the dark and nasty side of resistance; one that has always paved the way for chaos and bloodshed. It also speaks of how tentative this leadership is and also reveals their inability to think long term and positive. It casts a shadow of doubt on the very outcome of this Resistance.

An easier way of keeping the unwilling and questioning people at bay is to ask for alternatives. If people don't protest, go on strike, pelt stones, and shout slogans, then what shall they do? (Really what shall they do? That is the question to be answered.) It is a readily available stone that can be hurled on the cynic's head. Geelani Sahab can very well shout back on all those who disagree with his programme, and ask for an alternative course of action. It may not be, making an honest confession, all that easy to produce one; and this too is a fact that one who leads a people amidst crisis of this magnitude knows the situation better. He has also the advantage of being in the thick of it. His is the first hand experience. An armchair analyst is ensconced far away from the heat of things to comment on how to negotiate with the situation, not to speak of questioning the pioneers and leaders of the Resistance. But does that mean we should stop questioning? Does that entail an unlimited, unhindered, and on the nod acceptance of whatever is revealed from Mount Resistance? Geelani Sahab must not have forgotten the basics of his ideological manual that anybody, except God and His Prophet (SAW), can be questioned about his word and deed; so all of us reserve the right to question. And there are a good number of people who, not just for the considerations of material loss and gain, find the recently issued periodic table of resistance highly wanting in any constructive scheme of empowering the people, so that they can better resist the onslaught of power.

Real problem with Kashmiri Resistance is the wrong order of things. We are being forced to believe that first freedom will dawn on us and then we have to work on the making of this nation. Essentially it is a suicidal thought. It makes resistance not only costlier but also prone to failure. It may require a detailed discourse to explain this idea but off hand one can point out that the inverted pyramid style of revolutionary change through resistance is potentially a dangerous idea. It is because of this that chaos sets in the very matrix of resistance- society. One of its characteristic features is the devaluation of human life. Gallons of blood flow painting the ground red, but everyone convinces himself that this is the cost of change. Another hideous truth about it is that such movements succeed only to fail. As it gives rise to an extremely fascist system of power that breeds on suspicion and complete disregard of peopel's aspirations it concludes in a state of endless strife. The above thoughts don't emanate from cynicism or paranoia but are very well borne by historical facts. The reason for India being a success and Pakistan a failure is that Pakistan was a product of haste while as India was the outcome of decades of toil and hardwork by Congress. The roots of democracy were deeply embedded in the scheme of things when it comes to India. In case of Pakistan it was contrary. Result of all this is in front of us. In the not so remote past mankind has witnessed many bloody revolutions that occurred without the required amount of ground work having been done. Bolshevik Revolution of Russia and even before that French revolution, are some of the glaring examples. Why go in the back of beyond, Afghanistan is right in front of us. The failure of Mujahideen leadership in consolidating the gains in battlefield, once the Russian forces withdrew, was the direct fall out of not having established a democratic leadership that could put the people of Afghanistan on the path of reconstruction. All these examples stare us in the face. Do we still need any clarifications? If we are still stand convinced that unless India leaves our land nothing constructive can be done, then let us for a while presume that India was scheduled to pack off the very next day. Just imagine what will follow? What will hold us as a single people and who will manage the land, its people and recourses? The thought only sends a chill down the spine.

Here Hurriyat Leadership, more importantly Geelani Sahab, need to do a rethinking. They are under an obligation to reverse the order of things. A gradual, calibrated and measured ways of bringing about any grand change, need to be explored. Instead of making a roster of sorts for the people to follow, Hurriyat should chalk down a course for its leaders following which they can lay the foundation of a capable, democratic and enlightened political force that can negotiate with the State; while it stays here and also when it agrees to dissolve the status quo. If this is not done, it will not only cost us more lives, but in case we make it through it will ensure the emergence of an authoritarian regime, that will justify itself either in the name of religion or national security. That day we will realise that we had only been fighting for failure.

So the first thing to be done is to democratise Hurriyat Conference. Up till now it constitutes of many close associations, mistaken for parties, and people hardly know who is who in this conglomerate. A ring of mysterious darkness surrounds this political platform; and to begin with the rings needs to be lifted

There is no Such Thing as Half Pregnant

Jehangir notes that even the supremo is unable to open (or close) the gates of anarchy at will

(Mr. Jehangir Rashid, 34, was born in Nowshera, Srinagar. He completed his school education from Green Land High School in Hawal, Srinagar, and his college degree from the Department of Distance Education, University of Kashmir. He earned his Master's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Kashmir. He is currently employed as a Chief Correspondent in the Daily Etalaat, and worked as a special correspondent for the Kashmir Times. Jehangir won the Sanjoy Ghose Humanitarian Award for Writing for his reporting on the 2005 earthquake. He enjoys listening to old melodies and watching old movies and cricket matches.)

Rein in these miscreants!

Srinagar: Giving damn to coordination committee’s call that there will be no shut down on Saturday miscreants in uptown localities resorted to stone pelting forcing the shopkeepers to down their shutters in the morning. The chaos even forced pedestrians to retreat from the civil lines areas to escape the disturbance.

Importantly, Hurriyat-combine coordination committee had asked people to carry on normal business on Saturday. Even prominent separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani emphatically asked people not observe shut down. The statement in this regard was issued by some of the dailies here.

A group of miscreants in the morning on Saturday appeared in Lal Chowk, Budshah Chowk, Regal Chowk, Abi Guzar and pelted stones on shop keepers and forced them to observe hartal. The miscreants even smashed the show cases of shops around Regal Chowk. Not only they pelted stones on the shops, they even used abusive language against the shopkeepers in this holy month of Ramzan

Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar and Yasin Malik owe an explanation to the people about the frequent stone pelting incidents which put people in trouble more than the security forces. They must realize that the security forces thereafter, go berserk and attack the residential houses and beat up whosoever come their way. Even the old and ailing are not spared.

The same happened today when police as well as CRPF troopers entered the houses in the Sarie Balla area and beat up the inmates. They damaged the window panes of these houses and hurled abuses on the inmates.

These leaders need to ponder over the issue and identify the miscreants responsible for creating chaos in the society when world community is watching the Kashmir situation with apt interest.

The leaders should also realize that everybody including education department as also university authorities extended their co-operation to the Hurriyat leaders’ programme of resistance and they accordingly set the calendar of holding exams and entrance tests.

The parents were worried more today because the students were taking entrance test at different institutions like SP college and women’s college in Regal Chowk. The parents could not park their vehicles in the area given the disturbances. Thanks to the miscreants and their unholy activities.

These people also faced the wrath at the hands of police as well as security forces. The parents were waiting for their children to finish their exams and then they could accompany them to their homes. As the disturbance started showing its effects the police as well as CRPF cops resorted to baton charge and beat up the parents who were waiting on the pavement as well as over bridge.

Today’s activities annoyed Syed Ali Shah Geelani to the extent that he spoke to Yasin Malik and conveyed his dismay over the activities of miscreants in the up- town areas which is considered to strong hold of Malik.

There was let up in the stone pelting incidents in the afternoon in most of the areas even though the same continued in areas like Sarie Balla and Maharaja Bazar. Late in the evening the stone pelting incidents were reported from Chota Bazar, Habba Kadal and Rainawari.

Incidentally, here is the Hartal Schedule:

September 8 2008 --- General Strike
September 9 to September 11 --- No Strike
September 12 (Friday) ---- Strike after 12:30 pm and protests after Friday prayers till 5pm.
September 13 to September 17 ---- No Strike (Conduct of professional Exams)
September 18 ---- Protests at all District Headquarters
September 19 (Friday ) ---- Strike after 12:30 pm and protests after Friday congregation prayers till 5pm.
September 20 Saturday --- General Strike
September 21 to 25 No Strike
September 26 Jummat-ul-Vida Syed Ali Geelani will address Friday congregation prayers at Hazrabal, Mirwaiz Muhammad Umar Farooq at Jamia Masjid and Muhammad Yasin Malik at Chrar-e-Sharief. Peaceful protests after the prayers.
September 27 to October 02 No Strike
October 06 Lal Chowk March