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.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Kashmir Simmering

Aditi talks about the resiliance of ordinary Kashmiris in the face of political leaders and media determined to push its own political agenda

(Ms. Aditi Bhaduri's bio sketch is available from the webmaster.)

Kashmir Simmering

Kashmir is being suffocated more by the hartals called by the local leaders. Snapshots of life in the valley as the unrest unfolds…

Twenty-year-old Laila sighed "Why are we being made to pay for whatever is happening in Jammu?"

No cause for concern

Kashmir's leaders were protesting against the alleged "economic blockade" imposed on it by Jammu by calling for strikes. Yet, Kashmiris seemed to be stocked with food. Ghulam Mohammed Dar, a resident of downtown Zeina Kadal, faced no food problem. Even during the bandh, his local butcher and vegetable vendors are able to stock him up with food. This is pretty much true of most residents in Srinagar.

"We have our supplies, enough rice and pulses to last us a couple of months and meat supplies from our local supplier," says Tariq, owner of a modest hotel in Lal Chowk. The problem is with buyers — customers were few and far in between.

A resident of Aish Muqam, working in Srinagar, complains that shopkeepers have been taking advantage of the blockade and rumours of impending shortage by hiking prices of vegetables and rice.

And though "economic blockade" is on the lips of many, few seemed to be affected by it as far as food is concerned. There is no starvation. Kashmir is a society where people are used to hoarding food that sees them through the long winter each year.

Rather than by the "economic blockade" from Jammu, Kashmir is being suffocated by the hartal and bandh calls given by Hurriyat leaders.

Forced to comply

The owner of a handicraft shop on Srinagar's upmarket Poloview Road -- ,is often forced to keep his shop closed. "I don't care which party calls for a shutdown, I'd rather continue with my business, but I don't want to take risks. Miscreants can easily damage my shop and goods and then who would compensate me?" So against his will, he heeds the bandh calls.

And then there are the fruit growers —According to Butt, 60 per cent of the packed fruits ready for transportation to markets have been spoilt. Yet, there was really no need to launch the march to Muzzafarabad, foreseen to fail in any case — the fruit growers wanted to get to India through Muzzafarabad! That Hurriyat leaders would support the march came as no surprise. People have also been wondering why no preventive curfew was imposed on the day of the march.

What followed is there for all to see. But as of now, Kashmir is not starving, simply simmering.

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