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.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Kashmiri Durbar

Privileges enjoyed by ex chief ministers are envied by one and all

VIP protocol for former CMs
• G N Azad : 26 vehicles, 4 houses
• Farooq Abdullah : 6 vehicles
• Mufti Syed : 6 vehicles, 2 houses
• G M Shah : 3 vehicles, 2 houses

ECI considering complaint against Azad’s ‘chief minister’ status

Srinagar: The Election Commission of India has taken note of a complaint about Ghulam Nabi Azad being still accorded the "Chief Minister" status in terms of security and VIP hospitality.

Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswamy told reporters in Jammu that the Commission was ceased of the matter and it will be looked into. He did not elaborate but sources told Rising Kashmir that ECI had received a complaint from some political party stating gross violation of model code of conduct in respect of not downsizing the security and other facilities being enjoyed by Azad.

Sources said that it has been pointed out that he continued to have a fleet of 26 vehicles allotted to him at the time of being Chief Minister. This includes several bullet-proof cars and other luxury and high-end vehicles. This security paraphernalia also requires a battery of security personnel drawn from Special Security Group (SSG) of Jammu and Kashmir Police, which is responsible for the security of Chief Ministers and former Chief Ministers. "This is the highest ever number of vehicles any Chief Minister has been using in Jammu and Kashmir in past 60 years" a top security official said.

It is not only the security. Azad has not even vacated any of the four houses under his occupation since the days of Chief Minister ship. He continues to hold the possession of Hari Niwas Palace which was renovated as Chief Minister's official residence at a whopping cost of around Rs 11 crores. He has also not vacated the Jammu and Kashmir Bank Guest House near Zeethyar Temple which he used as transit residence till Hari Niwas was completed. Sources revealed that the official residence of Chief Minister at Wazarat Road in Jammu has also not been vacated so far. Azad also continues to hold the possession of a palatial house in South Avenue in Delhi, which is the property of Jammu and Kashmir government. It was purchased in lieu of state owned property in Delhi. Azad insisted not to leave it after he took over as Chief Minister in 2005.

Though the former Chief Minister is entitled to have a house in Jammu and Srinagar in accordance with the law passed by NC government in 2000 but Azad is yet to shift to M A Road bungalow which was also renovated as Chief Minister's residence by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in 2003. It is under occupation of former Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig but allotted to Azad. He has also been allotted a house in Jammu, official sources said.

In contrast, two former Chief Ministers, Farooq Abdullah and Mufti Mohammad Sayeed have been allotted only six vehicles each, including those used by their security guards. Their predecessor Ghulam Mohammad Shah is poor enough with one car and two escort vehicles. While Farooq lives in his own houses in Jammu and Srinagar, Mufti is allotted official residences in both the capitals. Shah also has two official residences in Jammu and Srinagar but he has converted the latter into the headquarters of Awami National Conference.

(Rising Kashmir)

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