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.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Voice and Conscience of Disabled Community in Kashmir

Javed makes a feverish pitch, denounces the State government for denying a peaceful march on the Helen Keller Day, and meets with the Vice President (three related stories)

(Mr. Javed Ahmad Tak, 35, was born in Bijbehara in the Anantnag district. He received his schooling from Government schools in Bijbehara, and his B.Sc. degree from the Government Degree College in Anantnag. Unfortunately, at the age of 21 he became a victim of a terrorist bullet which hit his spine and disabled him for the rest of his life. However, he overcome mental and physical odds to complete his Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Kashmir, and also completed certificate courses in Human Rights and Computers from the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). Although wheel-chair bound, Mr. Tak is recognized as a leader who has relentlessly and with extreme passion taken up the cause of disabled people in J&K, seeking full citizen rights guaranteed under the J&K Disability Act but never implemented in the past. He is a founder-member of numerous NGO's dealing with issues and sensitizing public about challenges faces by physically handicapped people in Kashmir. He has received numerous awards and citations for his selfless work and has attended numerous workshops on disability rights around the country.)

Allocate 3 p.c. budget for us: disabled community

Syed Basharat (Kashmir Times)

SRINAGAR: Ahead of budget session 2009-2010, Humanity Welfare Helpline Organisation (HWHO)-an NGO working for the welfare of disabled community in Jammu and Kashmir, has asked the minister for finance and planning to allocate three per cent budget as per reservation quota in favour of the disabled as a rehabilitation package which can improve the education, employment and access level of the community.
In its letter forwarded to state finance minister, Javed Ahmad Tak, chairman HWHO has said though under Jammu and Kashmir Persons with Disability Act 1998, they are guaranteed with equal opportunities; protection of the Rights and full participation but at the policy level disabled community is kept at margins. "A sympathetic approach is related to us. This makes us more handicapped and victimised by social stigma," Tak adds.

The chairman HWHO has further said the government has failed to protect their rights which are guaranteed under various laws. He has added that the disabled community in the state does not seek any undue favours but their rights be protected under law. "The time has come that as per reservation quota three per cent budget allocation be made in our favour. That will decrease our problems."

Tak, in his letter, has lamented that disabled community is being denied reservations in professional courses and competitive exams. This is because there are no proper facilities for children with disabilities at primary schooling level, he has said and added that thus most of the children with disabilities turn to be dropouts and few reach to secondary level and fewer to the higher education level.

"So far we are a crippled lot who do not have access to courts, government offices, transport and public places. Because such places are not disabled friendly at all. We have to face humiliation at the every entry point," Tak said and added that the intelligent human resource is made handicapped by promoting and providing destitute pension in the name of social security.

"These funds on practical grounds create insecurity and disgrace to physically challenged in the society. A grant of Rs 400 per month or Rs 4800 per year is simply to add insult to our injuries. Can a person with disability manage his needs with such a little amount? Is it security or insecurity? We need a full time commissioner who would look after the matters of disabled community," Tak has demanded.

The letter reads further: "Before giving a finishing touch to the under process budget we should be taken in consideration and three per cent of budget should be allocated for the complete rehabilitation of physically and mentally challenged (the disable people) so that we can get proper education, appropriate employment and access to anywhere we need."

While talking to the Kashmir Times, Tak said that the government has always treated disabled community with a step motherly approach. He said the infrastructure needed by the community is a long pending demand before the government, which has always ignored the same on different pretexts.

"I fail to understand why the good sense does not prevail on our leaders? Why do they ignore us? Are we not human beings? Why the government fails to protect our rights? Is our disability our sin?" Tak rues.

Disabled denied permission to protest

Srinagar: At a time when, every political party and people with vested interests sponsoring engineered 'shows' in Srinagar have a free access to any pocket in city to hold what they called 'protest against muzzling their rights'; the genuine and the most neglected (disabled) community in our society has been denied permission by the district magistrate to highlight their genuine concerns.

Abiding by the legal procedure, Humanity Welfare Helpline Organization (HWHO) a group of few disabled youth working for the welfare their community, had sought permission from the deputy commissioner Srinagar to hold peaceful protest rally on the birthday of great and renowned (disability) activist Helen Keller on June 27. But the same has been denied by the additional deputy commissioner on a pretext that situation was not 'favorable' to allow any protest rally.

"We had planned to organise a rally which would include children, youth and women with disabilities. The protest rally was scheduled to march from press enclave and culminate near chief minister's private office at Church Lane in Sonawar, where we had decided to submit a memorandum to chief minister. But we have not been allowed to go with our programme for reasons best known to authorities," said Javed Ahmad Tak chairman of HWHO.

The group has been working for the rights of the persons with disabilities, running a school for disabled children at Bijbehara in South Kashmir and has collaboration with other NGO's in Srinagar as well, who also run schools or homes for the disabled people.

The aim of the rally, Tak said was to highlight the disability issues and sensitise the common man and state government towards the protection of rights of persons with disabilities. "We will not protest in ugly way or raise any slogan that might harm the national integration or communal harmony. But our rally will be peaceful just taking banners and play cards highlighting the problems of the persons with disabilities," reads the application submitted by Tak.

Tak in his application hopes that the administration will definitely allow them to highlight their issues to gain equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation as guaranteed by the JK- Disabilities Act 1998.

"The additional deputy commissioner denied any written denial. I fail to understand that when the situation is not favorable for us how the administration allows employees, political parties and other groups to hold protest demonstrations in this situation,' asks Adil Rashid, a member of HWHO who had submitted the application before DC Srinagar on behalf of Tak.

It is pertinent to mention here that Jammu and Kashmir has over three lakh disabled people and the major contributor this figure has been the two decade old conflict, which forced the state government to enact a law for the protection of their rights. Time and again, HWHO has called for an increased cooperation between the government and NGOs to ensure better care, protection, welfare and rehabilitation of the people with disabilities, as the number of number of disabled, both physical and mental, has increased manifold in the state due to the ongoing conflict.

What adds to the gravity of problem faced by these people is the government's failure to chalk out a comprehensive plan for rehabilitation of this vital component of the society. "In 2003 the state government had hiked the monthly pension of the disabled people from Rs 150 to Rs 200 and it was proposed to be taken to Rs 500 in a phased manner. But any sane person can understand that is it enough on government's part. The government treats us beggars but we want it to make clear that we are for the protection of our rights and not for your alms," Tak rues.

A delegation of persons with disabilities met Vice President of India

A delegation of persons with disabilities met His Excellency the Vice npresident of India under the leadership of Honorary chairman Humanity Welfare Organisation HELPLINE NGO working for the Rights of the persons with disabilities in J&K. The meeting took place at Raj bavan at 6: PM. The delegation requested Jenab Ansari regardding the implementation of the draft policy framed by the J&K social welfare department in 2006 for the Welfare of Persons with disabilities in lieu of JK persons with Disabilities Act 1998 and UN convention of persons with disabilities recently ratified by INdia. Instead of Pension the delegation demanded the rights based approach from the government. In addition the implementation of recommendations made by the working group meant for the rehabilitation of the victims of the armed conflict. The working group was formulated by the honorable PM of India of which Jenab Hamid Ansari is the headhead.

His Excellency The Vice President of India assure of taking the matter at both state and cental level.


As you wish said...

Dear Blogger,
I came to know about your blog by a chance hit. I am also suffering from locomotor disability. I have done PG Maths, MBA, DCO, PGDJMC. I struggled a lot for dignified livelihood. In 2002 I applied for Asstt. Director's post through JKPSC. I enclosed my PH certificate with application. In 2004 JKPSC conducted written exam (6 descriptive papers)as the advt. didn't gave category breakup. I qualified the exam and called for interview on the condition to submit my PH certificate on revised format. A letter i got from JKPSC in this regard which i submitted and appeared in interview.On 30.12.2006, JKPSC declared result of selection. I was nowhere. I was only PH candidate who had qualified the exam. But the autonomous body "The Jammu & Kashmir Public Service Commission" didn't bothered to include one candidate of Ph category out of 33 selected candidates.All other categories were dully represented except PH category. Although the post of Assistant Director Statistics is an identified post suitable for PH candidates. If such is the situation of autonomous bodies then what to think about 'AUTONOMY" We are at the mercy of almighty. The state government is insensitive to dignifying living of disabled people. In other states, PWD people are given 3% vertical reservation but our state is special it has modified that into horizontal one. Pity on leaders and the high bureaucrats.Every now and then they got their salaries and perks inflated on the expense of masses and develop myopic vision after tasting coziness of power chairs. Hey all, I call upon you to stand united and canvas one to one to overcome these hurdles. Judiciary is active, media is vibrant and masses are aware. Let us take these leaders head on. They cann't do any harm to us as their ill-will and antagonism shall stand exposed if unitedly fight a determined planned fight.
An under current is brewing amongst PWD. If a handicapped person is gentle then he can be most dangerous too. As his determination is more firm, his dedication to cause is imbibed in his blood. Since God has deprived him physically but blessed him with inner strength. This inner strength is more in Handicapped persons than normal persons. Now, it is upto Govt to decide whether it want support or coup.

javed said...

Dear Brother
please contact me on 9469064964
We are with you.