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

The Village That Time Forgot

Let the ghost of Rajiv Gandhi prevail!

Kumkari – a forgotten village in Kashmir

Kupwara: Believe it or not but it is true that there is a village in Kupwara which is still without power and water supply, not to speak of other basic amenities.

And the villagers of this forlorn hamlet say they are as if living in the “no man’s land”, alleging since 1947 till date “not a single person from higher-ups of administration has paid a single visit to this village”.

Kumkari is the name of this “forgotten village” of 1500 souls in Kupwara, which despite being just 35 kms away from the main township Kupwara, has not attracted an official attention so far.

Now if locals are believed they say the village remains cut off from the rest of the world throughout the year as this ill-fated village is sans road connectivity.

As if this not enough, there is no power, no water supply, no health facilities… “there is nothing!”

“I don’t think we belong to any government or any government belongs to us. This is irony that we don’t have any facility available here. Our children don’t know what an electric bulb is because they have never seen one. We don’t know what a bus or a car is because we don’t have roads. Our pregnant women have to die on way to hospitals because we don’t have doctors here….” said Bagu Malik, a senior resident of the village.

“During winter when over 20 feet of snow accumulate here we are forced to travel a distance of 35 kms to reach SDH Kupwara by foot for treatment,” Malik says, adding “these are the times when we realize we are a forgotten lot”.

“During the past winter only we lost some five pregnant women because of non-availability of doctors here. We tried to lift them to hospital but couldn’t foot the distances as a result of which they died,” said Ghulam Mohammad Poswal, another elderly villager.

When ‘Kashmir Images’ contacted Deputy Commissioner Kupwara, Showkat Ahmad Mir, and told him about the lack of basic amenities in Kumkari village, he assured that the village will be connected with proper roads under the Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY).

“I will myself visit this village in near future and will assess the problems being faced by the villagers at Kumkari,” Mir said.

“We will try to provide them water supply on priority and take up this matter with our higher-ups of administration as early as possible,” assured Executive Engineer PHE Kupwara, Mohammad Hussain Balakhi and P P Singh, Executive Engineer PDD, when contacted by ‘Kashmir Images’ assured “the village will be electrified under the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) scheme on priority.”

(Kashmir Images)

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