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, June 14, 2009

Finding Political Gains in a Colossal Tragedy

Khayal laments about utterly poor quality of Kashmiri leadership without recognizing that in most cases people generally get what they deserve

(Mr. Ghulam Nabi Khayal, 70, was born in Srinagar. He received his schooling and college education in Srinagar, and completed his Masters degree in English. Mr. Khayal is considered a doyen among Kashmiiri journalists, having worked for both Indian and international newspapers like the Statesman, India Today, the Guardian, Voice of America, and others. He is also a topnotch Kashmiri writer having bagged numerous awards at local, national and international levels, including the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award in 1975. Mr. Khayal has published 24 books in Kashmiri, Urdu and English languages. He is the owner of a journal, Voice of Kashmir, published weekly from Srinagar.)

Kashmir on boil

And a leaderless nation wanders aimlessly

Any sensible person, or a group, or a party, that too having a deep sense of patriotism and claiming to be the saviors of millions of suffering and humiliated people, cannot rely upon a meaningless practice of giving frequent calls for strikes and shut downs. But a new and ugly chain of unnecessary hartals have been there disgustingly, further crippling Kashmir’s shattered economic set up and causing unimaginable hardships to the people in general. The so called people’s representatives should not forget that a colossal loss of seven billion rupees suffered by the people alone during one week long shut down last week, cannot be justified by them for, it amounts to playing with the bruised psyche of the hapless Kashmiris.

The fresh fuel, added to already simmering fire of discontent and dejection among the tortured and subjugated Kashmiri nation, has been a very deplorable act of reported rape and brutal murder of two women of Shopian in south of Kashmir Valley. Such heinous happenings, invariably attributed to the Indian forces, need to be strongly condemned and authorities forced to a time bound probe to dig out truth of such incidents through an impartial judicial system. But, as has been a long political practice in this State, such occasions provide a readily available opportunity to both the so called nationalist and secessionist political activists to foment further trouble and not to extinguish menacing flames of this wild fire engulfing the honour of Kashmir. They lure the common man to offer sacrifices for the sake of the nation and its dignity but themselves, they are playing the role of the merchants of death and destruction.

During the last 20 years, they have not contributed to the uprising in a positive way but have only amassed wealth beyond their genuine and known sources of income. The entire Kashmir knows where from this wealth running into crores of rupees came and for what purpose it was given to them through underhand means. One may ask as to what kind of sacrifices these hypocrites have offered from their own families. What right they have to ask others to face teargas shells, cane beatings, thrashing and even bullets in the streets. Have any of these tear-shedding crocodiles ever led a street protestation facing the wrath of the police and paramilitary forces? Instead, they enjoy staying comfortably in posh drawing rooms of their clandestinely purchased sprawling bungalows and pass dictates to the people with impunity.

Syed Ali Geelani’s call for shut down beginning 1st June, when Molvi Omar Farooq stayed out of it, stands disapproved by one and all for obvious reasons. This bitter reality is also known to these politicians of Kashmir today. They should still hold themselves answerable before millions of suffering people to the question that have their miseries not been multiplied with these frequent calls ultimately proving detrimental to a hard working poor Kashmiri?

In connection with the prevailing Kashmir situation, both the authorities and the secessionists are seen waiting for any development so that they earn political mileage out of the situation created by the circumstances automatically. on their own they are almost paralysed. About the Shopian incident, people’s spontaneous response was very much in solidarity with the affected and agonised family and not to appease Geelani. This, he must bear in his mind clearly.

The fragmented Hurriyat leadership must be quite tired. After all, they have achieved the goal of plebiscite, freedom, dignity, and honour for the people. It is therefore high time that it doesn’t subject itself to further exhaustion but take rest, rather permanently. As usual, the non-existent and incompetent State government has also been playing to its ugly tune of casually ordering judicial inquiry whenever an incident like Shopian takes place. These imaginary inquiries are never held honestly, and their outcome is never made public. May we ask how many para military troopers were punished for killing of more than 60 innocent Kashmiri youths in streets during last year’s Amarnath row and how many were brought to justice for murders in Khaigam, Aloochi Bagh, downtown Srinagar, Pulwama and several other areas across the Valley? Would the government reveal their names and other antecedents before the public?

Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Chief minister Omar Abdullah also lost no time to announce that an impartial inquiry into the Shopian incident would be conducted and completed within one months time, but in the same breath, he surprisingly stated that rape or murder of two Shopiani ladies have not been proved. This is ridiculous.

On top of these unsavoury current developments, Mirwaiz Omar Farooq has now offered initiating talks with the Indian government again staging a U-turn against his earlier stand that his Hurriyat faction could only open a dialogue with New Delhi if the later accepts that Kashmir was a disputed territory and its resolution would be sought in accordance with the wishes of the people of the State. Before making this pronouncement, Mirwaiz should have waited for a couple of days to go thorough the statement made by William Burns, US under secretary for political affairs, who said in clear terms while addressing media in New Delhi Thursday, “it remains our view that a resolution of Kashmir issue has to take into account wishes of the Kashmiri people.”

One may not presume as early as today that the cat is out of bag and behind the scene maneuverings are very much on for yet another “1975-like sell out” of the people and their suppressed emotions and natural feelings. In his 5-point charter of demands, for the Central government, Mirwaiz has not made even a passing reference to his Conference’s stand to ascertain the wishes of the people for the final settlement of Kashmir issue. What does it mean? As far as the current chain of uncalled for anti-people shut downs and a viable solution of the Kashmir tangle is concerned, these are two separate identities and need to be dealt with a different outlook in different perspective.

It is imperative that the Kashmir leadership learns a lesson from the people of Jammu who came out in streets under the banner of Hindu communal forces most violently during the Amarnath controversy last year, but did not opt for any business shut down because they are too conscious about their commercial life and its significance. They imposed an economic blockade for the people of Kashmir but didn’t affect their own normal economic activities under any circumstances.

Whereas continued peaceful, and not violent, protestation is the people’s basic right which cannot be denied to them and they have every right to go for it undauntedly till the culprits are brought to justice, self-styled Kashmiri separatists, playing havoc with a devastated Kashmir, must think twice before imposing yet another futile hartal as to what purpose it serves for the people whose champions they say they still are? Does it help them achieve expediently their invisible goal of “nothingness” on the path of their ambiguous and vague politicking? No, not at all.

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