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, May 12, 2009

Kashmiri Women Take to Streets

Human Effort for Love and Peace (HELP) Foundation and the Women Against Violence (WAV) take the initiative - Four Reports

Crime against women on rise

Srinagar: Expressing concern over the rise in the crime rate, many women on Monday staged a protest demonstration at Srinagar’s Pratap Park and demanded introduction of moral education in colleges and schools across the Valley.

Scores of people mainly women on Monday staged a peaceful demonstration organized by HELP Foundation to protest the rise in crime against women.

Carrying placards and banners that read “Murder of morality is unacceptable”, “Let’s relive Islam, and its teachings”, and “Let’s strive to make Kashmir safe for women”, the protesters were seeking action against those involved in the murder of two city women - Romana and Farzana.

President, HELP Foundation, Nighat Shafi said that the society in general and the parents in particular have a greater role to play in order to create a crime-free society. She said the introduction of moral education can also play an important role in ensuring crime-free environment in the Valley.

“Parents should keep watch on the activities of their wards. They should inculcate moral values among the children so that we have disciplined and civilized society,” Nighat Shafi said.

“The murder of Romana and Farzana should serve as eye-opener for the society. The need of the hour is to impart moral education to the people so that such incidents don’t take place in future,” she added. (Kashmir Images)

Women Demand Punishment to Romana’s Killers

Srinagar: Demanding immediate trial and punishment to the culprits involved in the murder case of Romana Javaid, students and women from different walks of life staged a sit-in here on Monday against the growing crimes against women.

“If justice is not done fast then such incidents would continue to happen in future. The solution is with the government and we are seeking it,” Nighat Shafi Pandit, chairperson of HELP foundation said.

Pledging to continue the protests for justice to the victim’s family, Pandit said: “She is a martyr and a role model for other girls. She preferred to sacrifice her life rather than succumbing before the culprits. As a woman I am proud of Romana and we all have pledged to continue this campaign until justice is delivered.”

The sit-in was attended by teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers and students.
“Our society has turned insensitive towards these issues. It is an irony that women who hold a say in our society are more interested in attending some formal gathering today rather than raising their voice against the crimes against women,” said Syeda Afshana who teaches at Kashmir University’s Mass Communication and Journalism Department.

“There is male hegemony in Kashmir and such incidents are its repercussions. We are striving to invoke the consciousness of the society to safeguard the rights of women,” said Hameeda Nayeem, who teaches at Kashmir University’s English Department.

Expressing her resentment over the society’s role for not appreciating the position of working women, she said, “Men feel jealous when they see women working and they try to maintain their hegemony by shrugging off most of their responsibilities.

After working for a whole day it is obligatory for woman to serve food, clean house, receive children from school and buy things from the market.”

Asking people to step forward and help Romana’s family seek justice, noted singer Gurmeet Kaur said: “We have become selfish. Seeing all this happening around if we still prefer to remain silent, I must say we are animals then. I have decided not to step back until both the culprits are punished.”

Seventeen-year-old Romana was crushed to death by two car borne eve-teasers on May 03 in Barzulla locality where she had gone for tuitions. Later police arrested Shoaib Daryeel, son of Muhammad Ashraf Daryeel of Nowhatta and Ubaid Ahmed Khan, son of Zahoor Ali Khan of Bulbul Bagh Barzulla and also seized the Alto-car used in the crime. (Rising Kashmir)

Activists rake up issue of increasing crime against women in Valley

Srinagar: Concerned over the increasing crime against women in Valley, people from different walks of life today sent a strong message to civil society and the government to act firmly and put to an end this growing negative trend in the society. Hailing from different corners of the city, they converged at Pratap Park here to lodge their protest by staging a dharna and holding demonstration.

The protestors demanded setting up of a special cell, headed by a judge, to deal with such cases speedily.

The demonstrators included academicians, social activists and students from various educational institutions. Holding placards and banners in their hands, they raised slogans against the crime against women.

The protest, attended by large number of women, was organised by Women Against Violence (WAV), a group headed by Nighat Pandit, a social activist. "We held the protest to register our concern and condemnation against rising crime against women," Nighat said.

The demonstrators not only appealed for an end to crime against women but also demanded speedy investigations into the cases, related to crime against women, to punish those involved into such inhuman acts.

A number of cases including that of Romana, Farzana and Tabinda Gani were highlighted during the protest. Romana of Gulposh Colony-Bag-e-Mehtab here was teased by two boys, who later hit her with a car killing her on the spot on May 3. Police arrested the accused and seized their vehicle. The protestors demanded speedy police and judicial procedures into the case to punish the guilty. The body of Farzana, a house wife of Zainakadal, was recovered from river Jehlum at Sumbal on April 14. Her family members allege that she was murdered by her husband and other members at her in laws' house and then her body was thrown into river. But police claims that she had committed suicide and that they have arrested her husband for creating circumstances through harassment and torture which led to her suicide. The demonstrators demanded fair investigation into the case.

Tabinda Gani, an 8th standard student was gang raped and then killed at Langate-Kupwara on July 20, 2007. Police claimed to have arrested the accused and presented a charge sheet against them in the court, which is yet to give its verdict in the case.

The protestors at Pratap Park demanded that cases related to crime against women should be investigated speedily and their proceeding carried in the courts fast to punish the guilty. The affected families should not wait for justice endlessly, they viewed.

"The civil society must come forward and help in stopping the crime against women. Civil society can not act as a silent spectator to the sufferings of women. It has to act firmly and so has to the concerned government wings, dealing with such issues," said Naila, a college student.

Qurat-ul-Ain, academician and social activist, said the government agencies dealing with such cases show lack of interest during investigations. "Subsequently, the guilty get bail from the courts and remain unpunished. There is a general demand that the persons involved in Romana's murder should not get bail. The police must effectively investigate the case," she said.

Nighat Pandit said creation of a special cell, headed by a judge, to deal with such cases is the need of the hour. "Creation of cell is important for speedy justice. Women should not be made to suffer for the want of justice. The affected women and their families do not get help from any quarter," she said.ÿ

According to her, if the crime against women is not checked at this stage, a day will come when one can not find women on streets out of fear. "I appeal the religious leaders and other concerned people to stress upon religious and moral education. Even the parents have an important role to play in this regard," added Nighat ÿ

Farhina, a protestor, alleged that the government shows a cold shoulder towards the suffering of women and crime against them. Referring to Tabinda, Farzana and Romana cases, she alleged that the cases were not properly followed. "Nothing substantial has been done so far in any case. The cases get lost in the pages of history. No one is bothered,"ÿFarhina said.

Some demonstrators alleged that the ongoing conflict is being used by the government agencies as an excuse to shield their lack of interest towards the cases related to crime against women. "In the name of conflict, government neglects crime. Living in a conflict zone is not an excuse for letting other crimes happen. We have suffered enough and cannot afford all this too," Isma said. She added that the government authorities have to be reminded of their duties every time by people by holding protests.

"We have to knock at their doors to make them aware of their duties regarding human rights and other important issues," Isma added. (Kashmir Times)

GHSS Kothi Bagh holds condolence meet

A condolence meet was held at Government Girls Higher Secondary School Kothi Bagh on Monday for Romana Javaid, who was reading in class 12 student of the school.

The condolence meet was attended by Chief Education Officer Srinagar, principal of GHSS Kothi Bagh, staff and students of the school.

The speakers urged the government to take stern and immediate action against the murderers of Romana. They threatened that no leniency with the culprits will be tolerated. The students while praising the character of Romana raised slogans in her favour.

A resolution was also passed on the occasion and it was decided that a special memory stone will be installed in the school. The participants in the meet also demanded compensation for the parents of the deceased. (Rising Kashmir)

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