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.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Changing the Paradigm is a Hartal Infected Culture

A commentary in the Rising Kashmir reflects on Kashmiri mass hysteria to shoot first and ask questions later

Asrar story triggers rethink on social response to crime

‘We should think before we protest’

Srinagar: By Police standards Asrar Mushtaq’s murder was a plain case of crime and so was that of Amina Masoodi’s, a college girl from Kupwara. Kidnapping of a minor from Baramulla, too, was no different. But all these crimes triggered massive anti-government protests in North and Central Kashmir during which the first finger of suspicion was directed toward army or other government forces. At least four persons died with scores injured so far in the mob fury these incidents had triggered. Police have already nailed Asrar’s killers and kidnappers of the Baramulla girl with investigations into the college girl’s murder in Kupwara going on.

Why did masses take to streets with the banner of revolt against state administration and asked for Azadi rather than justice and crime control? Kashmiris have different answers to this question but the majority view pegs on the urge that people here should resist the temptation of turning any ordinary crime into a full blown Azadi campaign. “We should think before we start protests. Then there are killings and injuries. We get excited and chant slogans but when everything boils down to causalities we start repenting. Azadi is a sacred slogan, I think we should keep its sanctity and should not mix it with our responses to social evils or crimes,” says Imtiyaz Ahmad Ganai, a high school teacher from Baramulla.

Many citizens in Srinagar and Baramullah regret the hasty reactions to the crime incidents from separatist groups including Hurriyat factions. Wajeeh Siraj, a poet and freelance electrician from Pulwama, says, “Increase in crime rate is not a good sign for which the society ought to raise voice. But when separatist groups plunge into every other happening it kills the cause of justice and people are left with no option but to uphold big slogans of Azadi and start praising these leaders. I think the civil society should intervene and make the separatist groups understand that responding to social issues and matters related to public affairs should be left for civil society intervention. It is surprising that the separatists who have a bigger cause are trying to use every space for their political activity. People support their calls; they share the slogan these leaders chant. Leaders too have responsibility to show right path to the people.”

Aside from this popular aversion to mixing social response to crime and general sentiment for political rights, most of Kashmir watchers believe the credibility of government institutions has chronically been poor. “This credibility deficit has created a huge psychological problem. People don’t trust government institutions. This fact was acknowledged by chief minister himself when he responded to Shopian incident. I think people alone are not to blame for such reactions. Government too will have to share part of responsibility and go for corrections within the system,” says a top pro-India politician who did not want to be quoted by name.

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