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.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Getting Something for Nothing

Few outsiders can or do comprehend the psyche prevalent in Kashmir

Valley reels under darkness, PDD blames people

99% consumers resort to power theft: Chief Engineer

Naseer A Ganai (Greater Kashmir)

Srinagar: The commissioning of 450 MW Baghlihar power project it seems is not going to help out people of Kashmir this winter. The Power Development Department (PDD) has started massive curtailment in almost all districts including Srinagar creating crises like situation. Even the metered areas are not being spared with the department going for eight to 10 hour power curtailment every 24 hours.

“But we are not responsible for the crises,” says the Chief Engineer, Power Development Department (M&RE), Aftab Ahmad, Without mincing words he accused people of theft and said if there were power cuts they were themselves responsible.

But people are not impressed. They say the department was heavily charging them in terms of billing but when it comes to supply of electricity it has failed. “I wonder what bills we get,” said Manzoor Ahmad, a resident of old Barzulla.

Things are not different in districts. For past 10 days Bijbehara, Arwani, Anantnag town, Doru Shahabad, Ashmuqam and almost all rural belt in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district is being subjected to heavy power curtailment.

The situation is not different in north Kashmir’s Varmul district. The complaints are pouring in from Varmul town, old town Varmul, Chandusa and other areas. Even the metered colonies like Kanlibagh, Friends Colony, Noorbagh are being subjected to long power cuts.

“In our area there is no schedule for load-shedding and it is up to PDD employees to curtail the power and they exercise the curtailment option frequently,” said Munawar Hussain of Khawar Varmul.

In Sopur town, the unscheduled power cuts are a norm. The residents of Noorbagh, New Colony, Batpoora, Armpora, Khushal Mutu are also facing unprecedented power cuts.

In Srinagar, complaints of power curtailment is pouring in from all areas. “We are facing regular power cuts for past one week even when the area is fully metered,” said a resident of Lalbazar. “The problem intensifies in the evening and the area is completely blacked out for several hours,” he added.

Despite being a metered area, Khonakhan Dalgate, which houses many hotels, is without round the clock power supply. The residents said the PDD officials had promised 24-hour power supply to the area while installing meters in 2006. “However, despite passing of over two years, we have to face power cuts for six hour daily. This is sheer discrimination as PDD was providing round the clock power supply to a part of our area which houses secretariat employees and former renegades,” the residents said. In Chanapora, Hyderpora, Rambagh, Sanatnager, Bemina people are complaining about the unscheduled power cuts. “There are still many days left for Darbar move but PDD by going for massive power cuts has indicated that the winter would be harsh this winter,” said Abdul Aziz of Gulbahar Colony, Hyderpora bypass.

The business of many companies in Srinagar have suffered due to power cuts.

Muhammad Shafi of Always Computers at Munwarabad said he had to keep his shop closed due to unscheduled power cuts during past week. “As I deal with sale and service of computers, my business has been badly affected due to unscheduled power cuts. I have no option but to keep my shop closed,” Shafi said.

Residents of Khrew on Tuesday came on roads and held demonstrations against the PDD department. The angry protesters were demanding immediate change in new curtailment schedule announced by the department.

The Chief Engineer PDD says that people are resorting to theft and hooking. He said even in posh colonies people resort to hooking creating problem in smooth supply of electricity. “There is problem in perception and reality and soon we are holding a press conference to disclose number of people involved in hooking and power theft,” he said.

But wait, there is more. Only in Kashmir, which abounds in purveyors of Human Rights, can we get such legal advice (for free naturally) ......

'PDD labeling metered consumer as thief is HR violation’

Srinagar: Legal experts have lashed the Power Development Department (PDD) for accusing Kashmiris of power theft adding that to brand any metered consumer as “power thief” on mere raid by the department amounts to “human rights violation” as only the Court of law can decide on the matter.

Lawyers say such an affected consumer, who could be implicated on false charges, can move to the Court of law and file a case against the power department.

“As per a latest Supreme Court judgment,” noted lawyer Mian Abdul Qayoom said “everybody is innocent till the guilt is proved” adding that any consumer being labeled as a thief by the PDD amounts to “human rights violation.” “Nobody should be condemned unheard,” he added.

Another legal expert said “It’s the high handedness of the government that they label the consumers as thieves.”

“Only Court can return a finding whether her or she is a thief or not,” said an advocate. She said the PDD’s statement was a “mere allegation”. “Same can hold true for them (PDD) as well and consumers could call them thieves.”

The legal experts say “in no case should the PDD release the names of the accused to media. “It’s derogatory.”

To mention for the past few years since the PDD installed meters in the city, its sleuths have been raiding the metered areas and releasing the names of those accused of theft, in print and electronic media.

Besides, during press briefings, the department gives a presentation of pictures of the theft, which they claim where shot during raids.

Hundreds of names of Srinagairites accused of power theft have been published in PDD advertisements while fines worth thousands of rupees were recovered from them.

Meanwhile, advocate Mian Qayoom who also heads the Bar Association said the severe power curtailment was a “conspiracy of the government to deviate the attention of the people from the ongoing freedom movement.”


1. PDD has no right to call any consumer a thief.
2. Nobody should be condemned unheard.
3. Court hearing is necessary.
4. If innocent, a consumer can file case against the PDD.

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