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.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Pursuing Human Rights, Cafeteria Style

Two news items that you will not find in valley newspapers supporting human rights, except when it applies to the minority community

83 acre land belonging to displaced Pandits encroached in Kashmir

JAMMU : Jammu and Kashmir government today said that 1,608 cases of trespassing and encroachment of properties belonging to displaced Kashmiri Pandits have been detected in the Valley.

Replying to CPIM MLA, M Y Tarigami’s question in the Assembly, Minister incharge for revenue said that 1,608 cases of encroachment and trespassing have been reported in connection with properties belonging to displaced KP's.

Nearly 83 acres of land belonging to displaced Pandits in the valley has been encroached. The process to evict the encroachers is on and 1,160 other encroachment cases have already been disposed of, he said.

He said that no immovable property of displaced Pandits has been taken into custody in terms of Section 7 of Jammu and Kashmir Immovable Property and Preservation, Protection and Restraint of Distress Sale Act of 1997.

There are total 58,618 displaced families including 33,351 Kashmiri Pandits, 2,231 Muslims and 1,701 Sikhs residing in Jammu and Kashmir and outside.

HC: Displaced workers entitled to HRA, CCA

Jammu: A Division Bench comprising Justice YP Nargotra and Justice Vinod Kumar Gupta of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has dismissed a batch of letters patent appeals arising out of various judgements passed on petitions of government employees, who on account of the turmoil had migrated from the valley, by virtue of which they had been held entitled to House Rent Allowance (HRA) and City Compensatory Allowance (CCA).

In 1989 and 1990, militancy forced members of a particular community, including government employees, to flee from the valley. The displacement of government employees resulted in their absence from duty, not on their own accord but due to changed circumstances in the valley.

In the ordinary course, absence from duty would have invited disciplinary action leading to their dismissal from service. However, the government came out with rehabilitation policies. While it treated the period of displacement as earned leave and the remaining period of absence as in-service for being counted for the purpose of pension, it deprived the displacement employees of the benefits of special pay and local allowances, including HRA and CCA.

The single Bench held that the petitioners were entitled to all benefits, including HRA and CCA, when a number of writ petitions were filed drawing analogy with certain government employees, who were being paid the allowances.

The government challenged the judgement of the single Judge on the ground that the petitioners had not claimed the benefits of HRA and CCA in their individual rights on merit.

The Division Bench, while dismissing the appeal of the state on Thursday, observed that “their entitlement to HRA and CCA is being disputed only on the ground of they not performing any duty. Therefore, if the government did not choose some of them for the performance of duties at any place or post, it was not their fault and they could not be penalised for not performing duties. In terms of para (e) of the government order No. 605-GAD of 1991, all displaced employees were bound to report for duty at any place within or outside the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Therefore, the government would not be justified in paying HRA and CCA only to those employees who were performing duties and not paying the same to those who were left out for the purpose of performance of duty. Therefore, the exclusion clause incorporated in para (e) of the government order No. 605-GAD is bad in law being arbitrary and discriminatory in character. And being violative of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India it cannot be legally sustained. We, therefore, quash the same and hold the writ petitioners entitled to the benefits of HRA and CCA.”

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