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, March 22, 2009

A Victim of the Urban-Rural Divide

Musavirr describes the tragedy of being born poor and helpless in the valley

(Mr. Musavirr Wani, 28, was born in Srinagar and attened the Burn Hall School. He graduated from the Meerut University and joined the Kashmir Times as a reporter. Loves driving his car and surfing internet to seek out workshops and fellowships so that he can travel and present the true picture of Kashmir.)

Poor man's travails: Children with eye impairment and a blind administration

SRINAGAR: With both their children born with impairment in their eyes, there is no end of worries for Mohammad Sultan and his wife. The couple is barely in a position to bear the expenses incurred over the treatment of their children which has robbed the family of serenity and peace.

"We have already exhausted whatever resources we had," says Mohammad Sultan Chopan, father of the children. "I have already sold my house and the piece of landÿÿ for their treatment. Now, I live in a small shed. Sometimes there is nothing to keep the pots boiling in the kitchen," he adds.

The family lives at Baghna Noor Khah in Uri which is few kilometers away from the Line of Control. There is no end of hardships for them as they live in a village which remains cut off from the rest of Kashmir due to absence of road connectivity. The village also lacks basic amenities of life. Inspite of these hardships the couple managed to reach different hospitals for seeking treatment of their sick children but all in vain.

Sultan who works as a labourer says his monthly income is Rs. 700 and the cost of treatment of his children at Indore Eye Hospital, Amritsar figures in lakhs.

"I went to many medical institutions and hospitals here for the treatment of my kids but the doctors straightway expressed their helplessness. Then I explored other options and went to Amritsar where doctors told me that both children ought to be operated and the treatment would incur three lakh rupees," says Sultan.

Pointing towards his children, he says, "No one in our family faces such a problem". The family even approached faith healers but that proved to be a futile exercise.

Rukhsana Sultan (7) and Mohammad Musharraf (4), Sultan's two children, unaware of the happenings around, gave a patient hearing to their parents. "Musharraf's condition is more serious as his right eye often bleeds and that frustrates us more," says the father with tearful eyes.

While his father was expressing his feelings, Musharraf chipped in "there is a swelling in my eyes". On this account the grieved mother continues, "...Our troubles started when our daughter, Ruksana, was born with this impairment. We started her treatment when she was just two months old. When doctors in Srinagar failed to cure my daughterÿÿ we shifted her to Amritsar.

However, doctors charged hefty sum of Rs. two lakh which was beyond our income capacity. After some years our second child, Musharraf, too was born with same impairment and we went to Amritsar again where doctors told us that the cost of treatment is three lakhs. Condition of our son is worse,"

After a brief pause, Sultan picks up, "We approached Taj Mohi-ud-Din thrice; however, he out rightly rejected to offer any financial support to us."

"Three years ago, we approached Deputy Commissioner Baramulla for help. They have asked us to submit the total budget estimate of the treatment. However for this purpose, we have to move back to Amritsar and that too incurs Rs. 30,000 to 40,000 which is not manageable for us.
"Even for preparing an estimate I have to admit my children in Amritsar Hospital which is virtually impossible owing to lack of financial resources." Adding insult to injury, Social Welfare Department, in the name of helping the needful family has just sanctioned meager amount of Rs. 300 in favour of both children thus making it a case for mockery and ridicule.

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