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, March 25, 2009

Kashmir University Hosts a Civil Society Initiative Against Torture

Basharat reports on a workshop on custodial torture held in the Department of Law

(Mr. Syed Basharat, 29, was born in Kreeri, Baramulla, and did his schooling in Kreeri, and later in Uri and Sopore. He graduated from the Degree College in Baramulla and completed his Master's degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the Kashmir University in 2005. He has been a reporter for Kashmir Images, a Srinagar based daily, London based website Gaashonline.Com, and a Srinagar based journal, Globe. Currently, he is working as a special correspondent with Jammu based daily newspaper, The Kashmir Times.)

Experts call for constructive initiatives within civil society

SRINAGAR: In what can be called a pragmatic approach to deal with the different facets of a conflict, a prominent human rights worker Kirty Roy today observed that people of Kashmir must take initiatives to redress the problems of victims of human rights violations and not make their support conditional to the final settlement of Kashmir issue.

Roy's observation came in his inaugural address at a two-day workshop on custodial torture held at the department of Law in Kashmir University. The workshop has been organised by the Human Rights Law Network in collaboration with MASUM (Manav Adhikar Suraksha Manch), a West Bengal based NGO working against torture in India.

Stressing on the documentation of cases of human rights violations in Kashmir, Roy who is also the president of MASUM, said that hurdles which come in way of justice can only be removed once a proper documentation of human rights violation is obtained. "The data speaks for itself," Roy said and added that it was not impossible to get justice once the perpetrators of human rights violations get exposed at various fronts.

He further deliberated upon manifestations of custodial torture, highlighting various laws which deal with the subject. Roy said that he was perturbed by the incidents of human rights violations particularly torture incidents which took place in Kashmir.

Parveena Ahangar president of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) while narrating a painful story of resilience and struggle against the enforced disappearance said that the government must come clean on the issue of disappearances and if serious to redress the issue, it should establish an impartial commission that will come up with the facts.

"I have resolved that our struggle will not culminate unless we know facts about our missing sons," Parveena said. She further narrated an ordeal of mental trauma she had undergone since her son's disappearance in 1990. "Since 1997, I am waiting for sanction of prosecution against the army personnel involved in enforced disappearance of my son," she added further.

Parveena said that nobody except a few conscious people in the society came to the help of families associated with her organisation APDP. "There are many mothers associated with the APDP who are not in a position to feed themselves. In this situation what has kept them alive is the hope that their missing sons will return one day," she observed.

Prof. Syed Afzal Qadri who was present on this occasion said that the impunity provided by various laws enforced in Jammu and Kashmir has barred the judiciary to deliver justice to the victims of human rights violations. "Similarly section 197 CRPC is hurdle in way of central government sanction of prosecution against the accused army personnel," Prof. Qadri added.

Besides, Advocate Hanjura, academician Qurat-ul-ain, Advocate Faisal Qadri, Advocate Narjees Qadri, Advocate Mir Hafeez-ullah, Dr Muzaffar Bhat, Dr Ghulam Rasool, many victims of torture and students of law participated in the workshop.

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