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.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Neglecting Heritage is akin to Promoting Talibanisation

Abdul speaks for many in his letter to the Greater Kashmir

(Mr. Abdul Salam Qureshi, 69, was born in Srinagar. He studied at the Sri Pratap College, Srinagar, and completed his B.Sc. in Agriculture and his M.Sc. in Pomology from the University of Jammu & Kashmir. He joined the State service and at his retirement held the position of Director, Project Planning and Monitoring, Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST). He enjoys reading and gardening.)

Who is responsible for the neglect of our heritage?

It has been a practice to organize functions on any historical event or occasion, by holding seminars, lectures, exhibition or walks etc, to justify our otherwise forgotten existence through print and electronic media. Traditionally the world heritage day was also recently observed in serene and cool atmosphere of Pari Mahal garden. When it is a hard fact that state archeological department with its sister central unit has fallen into deep slumber from nineties onwards as the valley was surprisingly overtaken by the turmoil. Nevertheless, we should be thankful to the various armed organizations, which were running the show then, as they did not act like Taliban of Afghanistan, who damaged the world famous Bamiyan heritage site of Lord Buddha, inviting worldwide condemnation.

However, it pains to mention that our own people, residing around the various sites encroached and usurped them either individually or collectively under the garb of some religious and social institutions. The worst hit site of this criminal negligence is the illegal possession of Kalai (fortification) depicting complete insensitiveness and neglect on the part of people of Srinagar city. This historical structure was built by King Akbar on his first visit to Srinagar in 1586-97 around Hari parbat hillock, in order to provide timely succor to the starving people of the city, which was badly damaged due to devastating floods. Major portion of the Kalai have been plundered and even illegally held by the land grabbers patronized by invisible organized land mafia, having support of political goons for petty financial considerations.

The municipal authorities compounded the problem by providing facilities like tiled lanes and drains as well. Paradoxically, PHE and PDD(s) rushed with water and electric connections possibly under pressure from known quarters for vote bank politics. When left unchallenged, the encroachments have been extended up to Malakha (major graveyard) as well. New structures (concrete) have come up on both sides of Kalai including graveyard with tacit support of employees of Muslim Waqf Board. Considering the alarming and appalling condition of the historic kalai and Malakha, the concerned departments (Archeology, Waqf Board, Municipal Corporation, Revenue and Police) should have a pro active policy and move in unison in order to curb and vacate encroachments to save the threatened heritage sites from extinction for our future generations. The illegal possession should be asked for original land records of 1946-47 with allied information, as has been asked by LAWDA authorities from Dal dwellers.

The political organizations can be requested to keep their hands off from this sensitive issue, in order to save our prestigious heritage for present and future generations. The other heritage site, which also demands attention of the government are; Budshah tomb, Pathar Masjid, Grave and house of Mullah Ghani Kashmiri, Martyrs site of 1931 uprising, and gates of Residency (emporium garden).

The gates (royal type) of the emporium garden located at eastern and western side of the residency were built in second half of the 19th century, when official residence cum office was built for British resident stationed in Srinagar. The gates having artistic wood work, design and majestic look need to be listed and saved from further damage.

No comments: