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, February 1, 2009

Incredible as it Sounds India Catches up With Kashmir on Moral Policing

Mehmood discusses human traits that do more harm than good. He should have pointed to those newly erected abominable hoardings in Karan Nagar as well

(Mr. Mehmood-ur-Rashid, mid-30's, lives and works in Srinagar. His commentary is published by the Rising Kashmir.)

A thundering nuisance

When virtue becomes vindictive violence pitches its camps for an extended stay. This is the time when reason is squeezed out from morality and compassion no more makes a part of social change. It all becomes soul-less, sense-less and consequently ruthless.

It is here that ‘solutions’ become problems, disallowing the refreshing breeze of change to reinvigorate the society. Throughout the history of mankind changes in individual and social behaviour came gradually and only when there was a willingness to change. Abrupt and forcible changes only amount to disruption. Any act to thrust change or demand a particular behaviour from an individual or a collectivity has never succeeded. Even structured force, like states, have failed in imposing a change on an unwilling people, how can an amorphous and unaccountable force, like religious and cultural groups, make a change stay in any society. It has not happened and will not, as long as human behaviour declines to be decided by others.

Just recently Indian national newspapers carried the news of some youth, claiming their allegiance to a hitherto unknown Radical Hindu group, Sri Ram Sene, conducting a vigilante attack on a pub in Manglore city of Karnataka. The photograph of the angry youth of the organisation, menacingly attacking people in the pub, caught the attention of readers. It was typical of an angry mind driven by the force of hatred towards other as he looks at the world from the ramparts of his own morality. He may be doing all this with the good intention of ‘purifying’ the society from ‘unwanted’ elements. He may be acting in ‘good faith’ to contribute towards the ‘betterment’ of society. But the all important question is that who gives him the right to define a society that he is only a part of. If people belonging to groups like Sri Ram Sene assume that India is a Hindu society and should necessarily fall in line with Hindu tradition, others may have their own ways to understand this society and act accordingly. Even if in the contestation the Hindu society and Hindu tradition of rightwing parties holds, how can they impose their moral standards on others who no longer want to be a part of this society or subscribe to its ideals? Any Geography and Economy does not necessarily belong to a particular version of History or a Society. The obsession with ‘Good’ has always made the wheels of evil spin. This is not the first occasion when a Hindu rightwing group, in the name of purifying Hindu culture from alien practices, resorted to violence. It has been happening in India now from quite some time. New Year parties, dance clubs, western dress, valentine’s day – there are a number of occasion when such forces pop up and hog the headlines.

Did India change? It did not. Contrary to any change for better it filled the society with more anger, hatred, and ultimately violence. Moral policing, radical politics and violence came increasingly closer to each other, giving birth to a monstrous shaped creature.

One may not defend those who believe in no-holds-barred, defending their way of life in the name of liberalism, utilitarianism and making–the-most-of-this-life, but one can also not be comfortable with exclusive definitions of morality. The diversity of beliefs and practices is the dominant fact of human civilisation. The debate of Good and Evil cannot be clinched in the streets by resorting to moral policing.

In Kashmir when we discuss the behaviour of Hindu radical groups imposing their version of morality on others things become easier to talk about. Feathers ruffle when finger points within. If a Sri Ram Sene member can be criticised for his behaviour in forcing down a particular version of morality on others, how should one feel about a Muslim organisation raiding restaurants in an attempt to catch the erring youth ‘red-handed’? How is that organisation different from the Hindu radical group? The argument for moral policing is the same. Either we have to reject both or accept both. It is not about Hinduism and Islam. It is about a particular mindset and behaviour that wants things happen in one particular way.

Here one should also not miss the fact that such groups become easily available for any radical politics that ultimately takes recourse to violence. Anti Terror Squad may or may not be able to establish a link between Sri Ram Sena chief and the Malegoan blasts, but it is most likely that such groups become a part of a dirty game that mobilises people in the name of some grand political project that encompasses the entire globe and brings them in clash with whatever they find on their path to ‘Glory’.

It all ends up in inflicting severe damage to the society, making it easier for evil to flourish. In the heydays on militancy, in Kashmir, we had a group that got the wine shops closed. Now does anybody know to which zoo the Tigers have fled who once roared in the name of Allah! If Kashmiri society abhors wine and rejects it, it is because the family values stealthy and silently transfer to the next generation. This is how values stay in a society. Had force and hatred been a part of social change prophets would not have been gradual and compassionate in their approach.


In an interview on a local channel, when Asiya Andrabi was asked to comment on Geelani’s remark that there are 3000 brothels in Kashmir, she not only ‘eagerly’ accepted the figures but was sure that actual number was more. Now one may ask, both of them, if they don’t take any offence, who gives them the right to abuse this society. Police has a habit of looking only for evil, otherwise there more good things happening around.

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