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, July 23, 2009

The Unavoidable Truth

Dr. Dabla presents timely information that is usually lost in the din to blame all crime to non-local offenders for political expediency

From Crime-Free to Crime-Ridden

Dr. Bashir Ahmad Dabla

It is generally believed that the traditional Kashmiri society of 60 – 70 years back was completely a crime-free society. It follows that crimes were neither committed in an organized way nor were reported by people at large. The dominant majority of people lived a peaceful life in which they hardly witnessed or heard about any heinous crime been committed. In Kashmir there existed a non-violent social ethos in its extreme form and any kind of violent/criminal act was considered highly undesirable and condemnable.

Crime-ful Society

But, this situation has changed radically. As a result of this change, crimes have emerged as the prominent feature of the present-day Kashmiri society. Consequently, various trends of crime have developed and have engulfed entire social life in the Kashmir valley.

The following overview of daily reports about various crimes in Kashmir in the local print and electronic media reflects these trends clearly:

- The father was killed/murdered/stabbed by his son/nearest relative;
- A person was butchered/beheaded/blasted by the gun-holders;
- A woman/girl was raped and murdered by security forces/outsiders/local men;
- Hundreds of theft, cheating, burglaries, fraud, pick-pocketing, threat and robbery cases take place daily in the valley;
- About 750 cases of suicide involving both men and women of all age groups in rural as well as urban areas were reported in past three months;
- Police caught many gangs of drug suppliers and drug users/abusers in a local college/school. Many youngsters, both boys and girls, were using drugs regularly.
- A college-girl was followed, teased, hit and murdered by her institute male students in a posh colony in Srinagar;
- Nudity, moral degradation, ethical degeneration and violation of cultural values are spreading fast among the Kashmiri youth;
- The parents in general feel perturbed about the involvement of their children of teen-age groups in deviant and delinquent tendencies and activities;
- Violence against women has reached to its climax in the murders of Romana, a school girl, and Farzana, a married woman;
- Domestic violence against women, which reflects in their harassement, dowry demand, bride-burning, separation and wife-beating, has increased and intensified in Kashmir significantly; and
- The cyber crime has also started invading the valley of Kashmir

The above statements reported/quoted by local media do not stand for abstract theoretical propositions but essentially portray the actual situation of crime in present-day Kashmir. They also reflect a transition of the Kashmiri society from a crime-free society to crime-ful society. Again, this reveals a basic shift in the Kashmiri society from a crime-to a crime-prone situation which has got minimum degree of social legitimacy and institutional support.


Crimes have been explained as “those acts or failures to act that are considered to be so detrimental to the well being of a society, as judged by its prevailing standards, that action regarding them cannot be entrusted to private initiative or to haphazard methods but must be taken by an organized society in accordance with tested procedures.” Ideally speaking, the crime takes birth in a situation characterized with certain degree of anomie. It has five specific characteristics of harmful to society, intentional act, legally forbidden, having criminal intent and having prescribed penality. Emphasizing on the causation of the crime, an eminent sociologist, Robert K. Merton, says that “poverty does not cause crime but when poverty is linked with a cultural emphasis on monetary services as a dominant goal and a poor individual cannot compete, because of his poverty, for the cultural values, then criminal behavior is the normal outcome.”

Sociologically, the emergence of crime in Kashmir can be explained in terms of factors which explain such a development in other human societies. The environment of inequality, completion and conflict is created through the processes of modernization, urbanization, industrialization, material development and so on. In this particular social dynamics, the sociological-pathological factors of social disorder, disorganization, lesser socialization, least family-school social control could not be avoided and were considered as co-relates of this grand transformation.

Again, the features of deviance and delinquency, especially among early youngsters, could also not be avoided. The added factors to the emergence of criminal trends were media exposure and Information Technology [IT] revolution. In actuality, these processes proved the accelerating factors. This entire situation led to the emergence of crime as a social trend which attracted the younger elements in society and was solely aimed at to get maximum material gains. This has happened in other societies irrespective of their differences in region, religion, culture and ideology. This has also happened in the Kashmiri society where crime is nowadays viewed as a social phenomenon.

But, the different feature of the emergence of crime in Kashmir is its relationship with the armed conflict between militants and security forces from 1989. In fact, this conflict and its implications proved accelerative and intensificatory factor for crime. It follows that conflict increased and intensified the criminal trends and provided much-needed social-institutional support and organized form to the existing crime. Though the introduction of gun was not socially legitimized, it provided the minimum motivation for its personal and partisan ends. The contribution of the gun to the crime also dehumanized the entire social ethos, particularly agencies and organizations of crime control.

The political factor made the situation more complex. Some parties, especially media at the global level, characterized Kashmir as a ‘global spot of crime and terrorism’. All these factors led to a cumulative effect of’ criminalization’ of the Kashmiri society according to which every sector and section of this society has developed a criminal trait at individual as well as collective level. In this background, all in-family and out-family activities have developed violent character and every individual lives under the threat to his life, dignity, property and status.

It was reported that thousands of men and women [old, young and children] were murdered during the conflict period of last 19 years. Though murder in itself is considered an inhuman act in a civilized society, these murders were carried out in most dehumanized forms. While somebody’s throat was slit or head separated, others were butchered in to pieces or blasted alive. All these extreme form of brutalized acts were in addition to the war crimes committed by the security forces. There is no authentic statistics available about the number of persons murdered in Kashmir during last two decades. According to an unofficial but very conservative estimate, more than 70,000 people [who composed of militants, army-security forces and common people] were killed intentionally in the war-like conflict situation. Most of these killings represent extreme type of murders by all parties involved in the conflict.

The second major type of crime committed in Kashmir was molestation and rape of women, especially of younger ages. The fact stands with sufficient evidence that this crime was started in Kashmir by the Indian security forces. The famous incident of mass rape in village Kunan Poshpora in the valley in 1990 is still remembered as the first of its horrible experience. Subsequently, the outsiders [undesirable] were involved in this crime in different areas of the valley, urban as well as rural. Finally, the local too committed this crime at many places and at different times. The criminal trend of molestation, rape and murder of women by inside or outside elements has been established in the valley.

In this case also, correct and authentic statistical details are nit available. In the decade of 1980s, the National Crime Records Bureau, New Delhi gave the following information about number of rape cases in J&K state:

[i] 1985 207 cases
[ii] 1986 187 cases
[iii] 1987 171 cases
[iv] 1988 211 cases
[v] 1989 176 cases

If this trend of increasing rape cases continued afterwards, as is expected logically, the number of such cases must have gone up to thousands. There is no official data on the occurrence of rape in Kashmir after 1989 when militancy started here. It has been observed that hundreds of rape and mass-rape cases have taken place in the valley. But, these cases have neither been reported nor documented properly.

(Rising Kashmir)

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