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.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Civility of Engagement

Mehmood brings a fresh perspective on an old topic

(Mr. Mehmood-ur-Rashid, 36, was born in Srinagar. He graduated from the Amar Singh College, Srinagar. He has been active in journalism for over ten years, and currently works at the Greater Kashmir, having worked in the past at the Rising Kashmir as the Features Editor. The columnist is presently the GK Magazine Editor.)

Good India, Bad India

Past week went with Eid preparations followed by two days off. So it was relatively a newsless time making it a bit difficult writing a column. Nevertheless there are some permanent themes in Kashmir that keep popping up every now and then. In fact they are always present and only become more present at times. One such theme is how to deal with India; be ‘pragmatic’ and make merry, act intelligently and get some concessions, go about recklessly and keep dying; or else be wise and honest and save both purpose and people. Till now we have seen all the responses except the last one. One reason for not coming across an honest and wise response may be our suspicion whether any such thing exists at all in the realm of political possibilities of Kashmir. Even it is felt that it simply makes a play of words, actually meant to make things easier for India to establish control over daily matters of Kashmir. The performance of Unionist parties, old and new, and the outcome of all the attempts made by Resistance groups and persons, bolsters this impression. This probably is the reason that any opinion that stations itself away from extremes stand almost summarily rejected. On the one hand there are parties like National Conference or PDP that avowedly want India to rule Kashmir; in fact they compete in facilitating things for her. It is in this competition to win Delhi over to their side that they occasionally take recourse to a Kashmir-centric diatribe. Where it ultimately matters some Ali Muhammad Sagar stands up in the Assembly and tries to explain the inability of India to revoke AFSPA; or some Muzaffar Beig stealthy makes inroads for things to pour into Kashmir from Delhi. A detailed study of the decisions taken in the Assembly can make horrendous exposures in this regard.

The other extreme is completely taken over by Geelani-politics. It means an endless pelting of stones, unceasing calls for hartals and recurrent appeals for protests. Although it will be a gross injustice to deconstruct this extreme to just protest politics but a common perception is building up in the masses that it doesn’t go beyond this and is fast losing its impact. Is it so, or is it other way round; it needs a dispassionate and patient exploration.

Meanwhile what feeds both the extremes are some crusted impressions about India and a reluctance to accept that things might have changed in India or a change can be worked out, or at least contributions can be made to a change, that can open up multiple channels of engagement with India. If both the extremes and the different variants of moderates, whatever they are, can explore and later exploit those channels, it can ultimately work to the advantage of Kashmir. The results may not be immediate and immense, nonetheless it can dimly work for the brighter moments. It should not be mistaken for all those state initiated and state perpetuated groups that were sneaked into the deeper recesses of Resistance to create a niche for India when she was struggling to get a foothold in Kashmir. The likes of Nayyar and Tarkunde in early 90s did more damage than all the killer forces that later emanated from the counter insurgency grid. Honesty and wisdom must steer clear of all those wave breakers.

First thing that is in need of serious debate is the possibility of making things travel from Kashmir to India. Small beginnings can be made. Academic institutions, media organizations, personal contacts, legal leverages, even political alliances can be thought of. No wonder if the level of intellect, amount of information, expanse of independent contact matches the required levels, Delhi can find herself stuck on more than one point. The entry to Kashmir may compulsively become decent, if not willingly just. The heinous crimes committed by the Indian machine in Kashmir can be taken up one by one and dealt with separately. After all India cannot afford doing all the bad things at one place all the time. There was a time when Gujrat, as a state, engineered the carnage of Muslims, but the inherent tendency of Indian party politics to work occasionally to the advantage of oppressed started doing its job. We may be genuinely disbelieving about the proceedings that end up in bringing justice to some of the victims, as it can be a case of one party trying to curtail the impact of other, but it has to be accepted that the apparatus of law and administration, backed by the stimulation from media, has the power to act against the perpetrator. Just recently we came across the Ishrat fake encounter case in Gujrat. The blood that had dried as terrorist appeared fresh as innocent; high ranking officers and the entire government of the day are in the dock. May be not justice, but an inherent expression of law is zeroing in on them. There is a good likelihood that noose might tighten around the necks of perpetrators. Earlier we saw it happen in Punjab. By taking an initiative that covers wisdom, sagacity and astute handling of things (all such things fall into generalities ad are in need of explaining) there is a likelihood that a break is applied to the extreme exploitation of our social and natural capital.

But all this hinges on a change of mind. A change about how to view at India; state as well as people. It is not beside the point if we talk of a change that settled in Muslim world about the West. For some time Muslim world considered West as a monolith and the responses were engineered the same way. Later the realization dawned that the monolith-construct doesn’t work and responses started travelling along multiple lines. Although the relations between the two are largely antagonistic, and the happenings in Iraq and Afghanistan regularly feed that hostile relation, but it stands accepted that West is not all about what it is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan. It acts as a check on the proliferation of animosity and hence a deterrent in letting only one kind of mind decide the matters fully on either side. If we get ready for a change in case of India, things have a potential to work for us. We can discover a good India and seek its support in fighting the bad India. But if we persist in the rejection of revisiting things we can only grow in loss and perpetuate in self infliction.

Rotten to the Core

Firdous laments on corruption in high places

(Mr. Firdous Syed, 43, was born in Bhaderwah, Doda, and had his schooling in Jammu. He is currently the Chairman of the "Kashmir Foundation for Peace and Development Studies," and associated with the J&K National Conference. Between 1989 and 1991, he led the Moslem Janbaaz Force, a militant group, and was jailed from 1991 through 1994. In 1996, he publicly renounced the gun culture, and is an active member of the Kashmir civil society.)

Corruption Everywhere

Few days ago, five police officers including SSP Jammu were suspended for destruction of evidence in a murder case. This incident is too stunning to be taken lightly. Disciplinary action by the administration indicates some intolerance towards delinquency. Nevertheless it highlights spread of decay to the inner most core. Suspension of SSP Jammu, SP City (South), SDPO, SHO, Sub Inspector and a Havaldar-cum-Munshi, allegedly involved in a criminal conspiracy, come as a rude shock. It only happens in Bollywood movies, wherein notorious characters buy entire police station to cover-up their crime. What happened in Jammu is bizarre. It is difficult to believe whether it is a real life incident or reel life drama. Infamous contractor backed by his ill-gotten wealth could purchase entire chain of police command; to save his son accused in a murder case is worrisome. This is a crude reminder that nowadays everybody and anybody, is buyable and has a prize tag attached. Brazenly police and criminals ganged-up to subvert long arm of the law. But more alarming is the fact that police officers had no fear of the system they were serving.

It is high profile case. Son of an ex-MLC was killed in broad day light just outside his home by son of an influential contractor; it was allover in the press. Even then police officers could think of destroying the evidence for huge monetary considerations, only shows the spread of corruption and to the levels it has seeped. So called custodian of law can stoop so low? The Lawyer and former politician had the resources to knock the doors of high-ups for justice; she could jolt the system. But what happens to the people, having no access to the higher echelons of the administration is not difficult to envisage. The short shrift common man gets at the hands of callous and corrupt officials is a matter of routine. People have lost touch with the justice delivery system; rather they want to maintain a safe distance with the court and the police. It is cliché, nevertheless worth repeating, does police and police station invoke a sense of security within a law abiding citizen or feelings of terrible anxiety?

Corruption has virtually rendered criminal justice system ineffective; it has almost lost its relevance. Investigation, prosecution and judiciary are main pillars of justice delivery system. If these institutions are not plagued with corruption, then why there is huge backlog of the cases in the courts? Why most of the time prosecution fails to prove the charges? Why moneyed is able to avoid the dragnet of law invariably. Money clubbed with muscle has become a lethal combination; hardly any rich criminal gets convicted. Only poor who cannot grease palms of police and clerks rot behind the bars, rich and influential go scot-free. An honest judge and committed police officer can insure delivery of justice; in the process also create fear in the minds of criminals. Perhaps both have lost their character? As a result corruption has become a way of life. It is typical case of fence eating the crop. When lawmakers and dispensers of justice become lawbreakers and begin shielding criminals, it is but natural for the lawbreakers to not fear punitive justice system. Corrupt have emboldened, they can subvert the system at their will. Wide spread corruption is sickening, but frightening is unabashed behavior of the corrupt.

Earlier individuals were dishonest, now entire system is corrupt. Previously, corrupt practices used to be an exception, it’s standard behavior now. Honest are in minority, therefore misfit in this crooked system. Very few in present set-up are left with some integrity; most have lost their moral fiber. Day in and day out, newspapers are full of reports pertaining to collapsed overhead tanks, sinking of large stretch of roads, bridges falling, dams bursts and grid stations malfunctioning. But how many times, we get to hear about corrupt engineers losing their job, and contractors put behind bars.

Generally roads all over valley, are in depilated condition. Owing to greater wear and tear and some negligence also, roads in Srinagar were in much worse shape. Driven by vote bank politics, present dispensation with much hullabaloo initiated macadamisation of roads in both capital cities, at a whopping cost of half a billion Rupees. Some roads may have been paved and blacktopped. But actually engineers and contractors are the real beneficiaries. The kind of inferior raw materiel being used in the macadamisation of the roads is for every body to see; R&B minister even suspended some engineers. Besides all the roads have been macadamized below/under specifications, these are ill built to withstand heavy traffic of the city. If the newly surfaced roads will not crumble due to growing traffic pressure, they will collapse under harsh weather conditions. These roads are not fit to bear the burnt of even first snowfall. Let winter come potholes will sure resurface, therefore defeating very idea of better roads. Only roads do not deteriorate beforehand, every building and bridge crumbles well before their estimated time span.

Government each year allocates crores of Rupees to PHE, for expansion of water supply schemes and distribution of potable water to the people. Most of the time PHE supplies its consumer’s raw water (if not muddy), unfit for human consumption. This untreated/semi treated water supply is common for everybody; Chief Minster to down below, man on the street. How come an engineer can supply untreated water, without any fear of reprisal? It is not only engineering departments which are badly inflicted by corruption; each and every segment of the administration is swarmed by wrongdoers. Rural development is the most corrupt department. Only twenty to twenty five Pisa of a Rupee allocated for a scheme sees light of the day, the rest is pocketed by the officers and politicians. There is huge forest department, yet forest cover is decreasing with each passing day? In the presence of forest protection force, why forests are being cut indiscriminately by smugglers? Dull protection is most talked about; despite hundreds of crores of allocation, why Dull is shrinking fast? Do not we know spurious/inferior medicines are supplied to hospitals? Is it a secret that bureaucrats live beyond their legitimate means and have disproportionate assets? Forget, bureaucrat, engineer and police officer, even teacher here does not lag behind. Is it not a fact that midday meal meant for school children ends at a provisional store? It is a free for all, corruption is not only rampant it is blatant.

Thieves use to decamp with the booty silently in the middle of the night; they had some fear and were also ashamed of their actions. Modern-day dacoits plunder during the day as matter of right, having little or no regard for any authority. Why it happens? Simply because everybody in the system has become corrupt and is on a treasure hunt. In the past corruption was confined to Patwri, Thanedar, Overseer, and petty clerk. Latter on, engineer, high ranking bureaucrat and police officer joined the party. Politicians relatively were less corrupt, but now they have crossed all the limits of decency. Politics has become so murky and costly an affair that it is next to impossible for an honest politician to survive and flourish as well. Situation has reached such surpass that even Judges are accused of making money through unfair means. It is nexus between politician, bureaucrat and police, you scratch my back; I scratch yours. Everybody is busy in pillage; no body is interested in probity. In such a bleak scenario, if somebody claims fighting the corruption, either he is boasting or simply lying. It is a rotten system it cannot be reformed, it is to be changed only.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kashmir's Receding Ice Cover

Yusuf laments about a rapidly dying glacier in the valley caused by easy human access and improper tourist management

(Mr. Mohammad Yusuf, 56, was born in the Dalgate area of Srinagar. He attended Government Schools in Drugjan, Sonawar, and Batwara, all in Srinagar, and completed his college studies at the Sri Partap College, Srinagar. Following his graduation, he briefly attended the University of Kashmir, and in 1980, joined the Physical Education Department of the University of Kashmir. Mr. Yusuf teaches aquatics and adventure sports (swimming, mountaineering, snow and water skiing, rafting, parasailing, skating, kayaking, canoeing, etc.) and has won many local sports trophies. He has led many exploration expeditions in Kashmir, and is the Treasurer of the Winter Sports Association of Jammu and Kashmir, General Secretary of J&K Aero Sports Association and the J&K Ski & Mountaineering Association, Secretary of Srinagar Winter Sports Association, and Vice President of the J&K Yoga Association. In his leisure time, Mr. Yusuf engages in social work, gardening and writing.)

Thajiwas - The Glacier of Tragedy

Lot is written and discussed about Kolahoi and other glaciers of J&K State but little attention is paid by highly rewarded and awarded environmentalists and Glaciologists towards the protection of fast receding Thajiwas Glaciers in Kashmir Himalayas. Thajiwas is, in fact, a valley within the Sindh valley. It runs south-east to north-west to join the Sindh River at Shitkari below Sonamarg. It is surrounded by many lofty rock walls and challenging peaks like Mosquito,4612 mtr, Arrow/Blade, 4830 challenging peaks like Mosquito,4612 mtr, Arrow/Blade, 4830 Mtr, Valehead, 4750 mtr, Umbrella, 4789 mtr, Cefn Carnedo, 4800 mtr, Innominate, 4900 mtr, and Kazim ridge, 4970 mtr. on its south and easy grassy Zabnar (4040 mtr) on its north. Two very difficult types of sandstone and soft lime rocks form its boundaries. The eastern side of the valley is blocked by the Hapatnar Bal (Bear Valley Col). Melting glaciers form a stream at the base which later joins the River Sindh at Shitkari Bridge near Hung.

Thajiwas is also known as ‘The Valley of Glaciers’. In recent past it was abode of six fairly well defined glaciers lying in between different pinnacle shaped peaks, crags and cliffs. Most of the glaciers, running from mountain tops through gullies, were meeting each other at the base of the valley and was therefore known by a single name of Thajiwas glacier but the position of these glaciers is today entirely different. The moraines running from these glaciers to the foothills indicate that a large portion of these glaciers is receded for last some decades. These Glaciers are now shrunk to a great extend. Just before independence some sporting activities like climbing and ice crafting were actively conducted here by the British officers. These glaciers offered best possibilities of undertaking high adventures here. Surprisingly most of these glaciers are now hanging on the cliffs, waiting for their sudden death. Glacier 1 overlooks the ‘Meadow of Gold’ (Sonamarg) and lies directly amidst of two peaks, ‘Greater Thajiwas’ 4727 mtr. and Lesser Thajiwas, 4546 mtr. It is on the pattern of other glaciers, steep of snout. Glacier 2 lies between pattern of other glaciers, steep of snout. Glacier 2 lies between Greater Thajiwas and Wallow Crag walled behind by Arrow and Cefn Carnedo peaks. After Glacier 2 there was a snow bed, called Amphitheatre Gully, which is totally vanished now. One can find seasonal snow on this Gully till April/May but due to high rate of ablation it melts down fast. The snow clad Umbrella peak lies on the upper reaches of this gully behind Wallow Crag. Glacier 3 is situated between Umbrella and Valehead peaks. Kazim ridge forms the back wall. This is the largest of the six glaciers and the most active. It is roughly triangular in form. Glacier 4 and 5 are close to each other and lies at the foothills of Valehead and Mosquito peaks. The long and serrated north ridge of Valehead peak divides Glacier 3 and 4. Its lowest buttress, named Sunday Crag, dominates Glacier 4. Glacier 6 lies at the head of the valley over Bear Valley Col. It bends down from the very heart of Valehead Peak, beyond Mosquito Peak, in a smooth curve.

About four decades back it was possible to ski the whole Thajiwas Nar till late July. Glacier 6 was not crevassed and provided good ski runs in May and June. Glacier 3 would make a fine ski mountaineering expedition to the peaks “Valehead” and “Umbrella”. Even till 1988 these glaciers offered challenge for ski-touring. An Indo-Swiss expedition, with this writer as one of the members, skied down the entire Thajiwas Nar starting from upper reaches of Hapatnar Col to Sonamarg in May-June 1988. At some places it offered Extreme Skiing with nearly 8 kilometers of ski run in one go. Snow condition was excellent and kilometers of ski run in one go. Snow condition was excellent and fantastic. Another expedition, organized by the J&K Ski & Mountaineering Association undertook Ski-Paragliding flights from top of Glacier 1 to the base in May 1989. Not only global warming but the increasing human activity in higher areas is equally responsible for disappearance of glaciers. Due to high rate of ablation and heat produced by increasing number of tourists, Gujjars/Bakarwals (Nomads), herdsmen, restaurants, School excursions and campers the glacier seems visibly retracting. The Glacier 5 has pushed out a tongue of ice into the main valley. There is need for taking tangible steps for addressing the receding Thajiwas Glacier.

The Jammu and Kashmir Government is undoubtedly duty bound to promote tourism in the state. It is making its all out efforts to promote tourism in a big way but the growing tourism harms our eco system as well. In its endeavor the Tourism Department is increasingly organizing different adventure programs, carnivals, fame tours, and festivals etc at high altitudes one or the other day. Conducting of Rafting Championships on Sindh and Lidder streams has become its regular feature. During such adventure activities a large crowd is gathered at higher places. Besides, a large number of domestic tourists are now regularly visiting these places. Hundreds of tourists and local excursions are frequently visiting the easy accessible Thajiwas glacier every day. The glacier is visited by nearly 50,000 to 60,000 tourists just in 120 days of tourist season every year. It is not possible for a common/pleasure tourist to visit Kolahoi or any not possible for a common/pleasure tourist to visit Kolahoi or any other high altitude glacier in a day. Surprisingly Thajiwas glacier is just 2.5 kilometers away from black topped road head. To seek pleasure by organizing snow fighting or zooming down the glacier on a Sledge the tourists from Indian planes always prefer to go to Thajiwas glacier because it is nearest and has easy approach. The increasing tourist inflow to Thajiwas is its deteriorating factor. Not only day tourists but a good number of Gujjars/ Bakarwals (nomads) and Chopans (herdsmen) are residing here during summer months. Many others have been permitted to set up Tea Stalls and Campsites in the narrow Thajiwas valley, unaware of the fact that due to increasing human interference the heat is generated in a larger quantity and thus proving disastrous to the glaciers. The Campfires, stoves, Cholas and burning of wood to make charcoal accelerates the heat here. Since Thajiwas is bounded by wall like high mountains on its three sides it leaves less space for heat to escape. The Sonamarg Development Authority must immediately shift these campsites to other places like Sarbal, Nilgrath and main Sonamarg but away from water bodies as well.

Finally, there is need of setting up a monitoring station by The Energy Resource Institute (TERI) here as otherwise we will lose this nature’s renewable storehouse of freshwater. On the other hand these hanging glaciers could also be dangerous for tourists who often try to reach out to these glaciers. Two years back five tourists were buried alive in a hanging glacier when it suddenly collapsed. We will have to minimize the tourist inflow to Thajiwas so that melting rate could be minimized and the glaciers are protected. The Government will be minimized and the glaciers are protected. The Government will have to prepare extensive project to protect these glaciers.

Return of the Native

While Razdan describes challenges inhabiting the return of Pandits back to the valley, the majority community should also get concerned about continuous trickling out of residual Pandits from the valley unable to find adequate economic and political space in Kashmir

(Mr. P. N. Razdan, 70, was born and raised in Srinagar. He completed his master's degree in Statistics from the Patna university and joined the J&K state service. He rose through the ranks to the post of Special Secretary, Department of Planning and Development, Government of Jammu and Kashmir. After his retirement in 1997, he was appointed as Advisor, Planning and Development. He currently lives in the National Capital Region. In his leisure time, Mr. Razdan stays engaged by doing consulting and social work, and by writing occasional commentaries on Kashmir for various newspapers.)

Why Kashmiri Pandits don’t return to Valley?

The return of Kashmiri Pandits to the valley has again assumed media attention due to the renewed interest of the newly elected government in the state for this subject. The NC led government announced a series of financial incentives both in the budget speech and separately through a mega plan by the Revenue and Rehabilitation Minister for the return of Pandits. The wholesome package covers all the relevant concerns like repairs of houses, orchards, restarting of business, employment and housing.

Despite the attractive terms of package, the response of the migrant Pandits has been lukewarm. Only about 300 families have expressed their interest in the return package so far besides the 934 families that registered last year after the announcement of a package by the Prime Minister. This is just 2% of the 55476 families registered as migrants in Jammu, Delhi and other states. Why is the response of the Pandits so brazenly cool to the package? We try to analyze the reasons for this diffidence of the migrant natives.

The apprehension foremost in the minds of Pandits is that of insecurity. It is not the overall insecurity, like a bomb blast on the roadside or a cross firing that results in death and disability, but the individual targeting that is the prime concern of the migrants. Pandits were targeted on the basis of their religion in 1990 and later, a fear that continues to bother them. Kashmir is an unsettled issue but for the last nineteen years post migration, the issue has not been de-linked from religion. Events of late like Amarnath land agitation, regardless of its genesis, have only aggravated these fears. So long as Kashmir problem is associated with religion and a theocratic state like Pakistan that has a dismal record of minority handling, the worry of the Pandits used to a secular and pluralistic way of life in the valley, is logical. Pandits would not like to return only to be thrown out again. Their heart goes back to Kashmiriyat, and its revival.

A lot of this fear of insecurity could have been lessened had the return plan been backed up the locals. While the individual bonhomie and warmth of the local Muslims with the Pandits continues as before (if not more), there is no collective social or political initiative for the return of Pandits. This is probably because there is a fear that this step may dilute the attention on the Kashmir problem and reduce the pressure on Indian establishment for working out a solution.

The other reason for a lukewarm attitude for return is the lack of housing. About 80% of the Pandit families have disposed off their immovable properties either willingly or under threat of encroachment. There is a small section of people in Srinagar and some major towns whose houses are under the control of para military forces. Despite petty rents followed by delays and insensitive attitude of the State Police for their payment, these people have refused to sell their properties with the hope of an eventual return to their homeland. But even these properties are not available at present due to their continued occupation by the forces and refusal for their vacation. In reality there is therefore no accommodation, transit or permanent, for Pandits to start with. This problem has not been addressed in the return package. It would be helpful if the government makes arrangements for transit accommodation for the returning Pandits both as a welcome gesture and also to have a first feel of the largely safe and secure valley.

The problem of permanent housing can easily be solved if large-scale housing projects are taken up both by the government and private builders of repute. It is however important that housing projects be made available for a mix of population with majority percentage fixed for migrants. Exclusive tenements for Pandits defeat the very argument of security and plurality.

There is also a genuine concern particularly among the youth, about the lack of professional employment in the valley. The state has remained static on development front for the last two decades because of unstable political and security conditions. Industry, IT, tourism, communication, health services etc. have not seen the progress recorded in other states of the country. There is mounting unemployment particularly in professional categories. Government continues to be the sole employer and Pandit youth even if absorbed in the meager professional openings, would have no lateral movement. Already there are scores of Kashmiri Muslim youth working as doctors, engineers and IT professionals in all metropolitan cities of the country pointing to the difficult professional employment situation in the valley. With better openings available outside the valley, offer of employment for return therefore does not seem to be a workable proposition at least for professionally qualified youth. Linking employment to the return is meaningless even otherwise, since anybody who takes up employment in the valley would have to stay there itself.

Then there are tiny little grounds like affinity with the newly created neighborhoods, health services, schooling of kids etc. that may discourage the reverse migration of Pandits. But as the author has observed in one of his earlier articles that, Pandits may have improved both socially as well as economically after migration, but their biggest loss has been the loss of their identity. And a majority of them are prepared to exchange anything for its redemption. However, they can do so only if there is a will to help them. The government seems to have come out openly in this cause. It is now for the civil society to play its part.

Not Bad, Even a Beggar Can Make Rs. 10,000 a Month

In a perverted way there is more open and fierce competition on the street than in offices that are occupied by babus running fiefdoms of inefficiency and corruption

Non-State beggars to have field day on EID

Srinagar: Unsatisfied with Ramadan earnings, the non-State beggars are all set to have a field day on Eid-ul-Fitr. “Eid al-Fitr is a three-day celebration and we are here to stay,” a beggar from Rajasthan said. The lucrative profession is giving these beggars more returns than the skilled laborers who come from outside states.

Reason, they say, is locals’ ‘power to donate’. “People give us money. Unlike other States, people here are generous,” was a common voice from a group of non-local beggars from Haryana, which consists mostly women and toddlers.

But what is the total number of non-state and local beggars who have been begging these days and what has been their earning power during past month may be a mystery, but here is what an independent researcher has to offer.

“Currently there are 4500 local and non-local beggars in and around city centre alone. Their average earning each day is 300 rupees. While the total beggar industry is 3.5 crore monthly,” says a social activist Abdul Qayoom Shah, who has done a detailed study on the professional beggars.

Shah said during Ramzan, Sadakat-ul-fitr, which is obligatory for every Muslim to pay before Eid prayers, is the key reason why a large chunk of non-local beggars are here.

“They virtually leave no stone unturned and reach almost every Masjid let alone places where large eid congregations are held,” he says. Shah, however, says that it would be better if government could come up with the actual figures of local and non-State beggars. “That would actually clear how much they earn a day. And government can easily do it,” he says.

Meanwhile, the emergence of non-State beggars has influenced the income of local beggars, who now are looking forward towards the next two days. Salam Ganaie, a local professional beggar from Sopore, is hopeful that on Eid he would earn good bucks. He also accepts that the local beggars lack begging skills when compared to non-locals “who even drag clients by their clothes when needed.”

Ganaie, who keeps himself near the shrine of Hazrat Dastgeer Sahib (RA) at Saria Bala, said, “There is a good competition from the large number of non-local beggars in Srinagar.” He said that there is a stiff competition between local and non-local beggars owing to which, “Our income has gone down considerably.”

(Rising Kashmir)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Natural Springs of Zainpura

Iqbal provides a historical perspective of Zainpura village situated on the Anantnag-Shopian road and about 11 kilometers from Bijbehara

(Mr. Iqbal Ahmad, 48, was born in Parigam Chek, Kulgam. He is a graduate with Diploma in Numismatics, Archaeology and Heritage. He is an archaeologist, writer, and a cultural historian. He is employed by the Jammu and Kashmir State Government. Mr. Iqbal Ahmad has published 12 reference books on Kashmir archaeology and heritage.)

Preserve Natural Springs

This is an old Kashmiri proverb which is often spoken in south Kashmir, it means that sources of one place, instead of its own people are being utilized by others. In fact about 360 springs of fresh water are recorded in varies traditions to had been rising from the village Zainpura-Pulwama, and instead of irrigating the lands of its own village have been irrigating the lands of Safnagar which is below Zaiapora. As such all the water flows to the lower villages. The village lands are flourished on plateaus and uplands while the springs rise from their feet’s. Despite of its number of rising springs, the village’s lands had to face water shortages and the fresh waters of its springs used to irrigate the lands of Safanagar (a village below Zainpura). In this context the old saying mentioned above, suits well to these springs.

Zainpura, a famous village of south Kashmir is also known for its various qualities of apple and flower plants. The village had got a good mention in historical annuals too. It is situated on the Anantnag-Shopian road about 11 km from the historical town of Bijbehara towards its western direction. The village is said to had been founded by Zain-ul-Abidine a famous Sultan of Kashmir on his own name in early 15th Century AD. He had laid several gardens and constructed few beautiful houses with in his gardens. The Sultan not only visited the villa but also stayed for several years in this village. He is believed to have also built a royal place in Zainpura. Sultan Hussain Shah Chak (1562-69) who was succeeded by Ali Shah in 1569 AD is said to had left Srinagar and spent his lost exile day at Zainapura, the Sultan later breathed his lost in the village.

Despite of their historical events attached with this village the place was never explored. Although the village at some times incidentally exposed few antiquities of its glorious past. The Shahli Wooder (one of the plateaus so named) still possesses the traces of the Bad Shah canal, which the Sultan constructed here. He used earthen pipes at required spots of the canal, few years back during a digging near Zainsuith (the name of the canal built by Badshah) a beautiful stone sculpture made its appearance. It was identified Dashavtara (a Siva incarnation) the sculpture was brought to Srinagar ad housed in Sri Pratab Singh Museum. The sculpture is dated to 9th Century AD which clearly speaks of artistic activities of Zainpura period to Badshah'’ period.

`There are few sites of the village still pronounced by their earlier names, on the plateau of Shahli Wooder a spot is known by the earlier name of Razdani, revealed a local Master Ji, he said, `it is widely believed here that the spot might had been earlier occupied by royal houses of Sultan Badshah.’ The Sultan also believed to have built a big house for Sheikh Shamad-ud-Din Baghdadi (RA) a famous spiritual saint of his times. Of the old glorious constructions, the shrine of this saint is well preserved here.

No remnants of any other ancient structure or site are visible on the ground surface of any wooder, however, a Mughal period graveyard in neglected condition is seen in the feet’s of Shahli Wooder one of the grave’s inscription reads Zilhaj 1120 which correspondence to the reign of Muhammad Muzam Qutub-ud-Din. The inscription on the other side reads Ya Gaffar Guffura in Arabic.

The village of its historical and water resource significance needs proper exploration and archaeological survey so that the more traces of Zain-ul-Abidine’s period are brought to light and 360 springs as recorded in various traditions to had been once rising here are searched. These days only few springs are seen rising from the village lands, which included the war nag and most famous Nilnag. These springs where well preserved till Pandiths lived here, claim few locals , they say that these pandiths used to take care of these springs , howevere , with the migration of pandiths, the springs of the village also got neglected. Most neglected has become the Nilnag. During my visit to this spring I could also see the Nilnag was in utter neglect.

It has become a waste dumping pond where I saw the branches and stems of Chinars occuping its floor and banks. One is unable to understand that on one side crores of rupees are being yearly spent on tube well and lift irrigation schemes to provided irrigation and drinking water facilities to the people, but on the other hand the water sources bestowed by nature to this glorious valley are not taken care of. It is not at Zainapora , that one can see the kashmeri springs in neglected condition ,it is every where that village springs are not taken care of. We should preserve all the springs included that of village Zaninpora. Let these springs, then continue to irrigate the lands of Safnagar village.

Connecting History With Tourism

The Mughal Road project is the restoration of an ancient road that could revive native interest in history and provide a new vista for tourists. An editorial in the Kashmir Images, followed by related articles in the daily

Mughal Road

The Mughal Road that connects Kashmir valley with Poonch is a prestigious project not only because it has a historical importance but also because it will enrich the surface communication of the state. Kashmir valley has only one link, surface-wise, with the rest of the world and that is 300-KM long stretch of Srinagar-Jammu highway. However with the opening of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road, one more link has been established but given the restricted travel and business on this route, Srinagar-Jammu remains the only tangible surface link.

In this backdrop, the construction of Mughal Road that connects Shopian in south Kashmir with Poonch would be opening fresh travel prospects for Kashmir on one hand and on the other, it would help people of Poonch and Rajouri to have choice of markets – Srinagar or Jammu. Like the other side of the Line of Control (LoC), Kashmiris living in the valley have relations in Poonch and Rajouri and for meeting them have to travel all the way to Jammu and from there to Poonch or Rajouri.

The Mughal Road, when ready for travel, would shrink the distances and thus help people to visit their relatives more frequently. Besides the opening of the road would give flip to the economies of both Kashmir as well as Rajouri-Poonch as most of the people of these districts would prefer to establish business links with Kashmir. Need is to ensure that the work on this road is done on better pace. It is heartening that the Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah has decided to travel on the road in coming to personally have a on the spot feel of the pace of the work.

This historic road is surrounded by a wealth of cultural heritage which has remained unattended till date. There are scores of historical monuments dotting the road from Shopian to Poonch but these monuments are lying in pathetic conditions. Though some of these monuments are supposed to be protected by Archeological Survey of India (ASI), the protection is seen just on the papers of the said organization as the present condition of these monuments is enough to tell the tale. Nobody has ever cared to look towards these monuments are there are no care takers and thus the natural calamities, weather vagaries and human greed has left these monuments in a shambles.

Now that the road is being laid down and the work on it is going on, one would expect the ASI and state’s own Department of Archaeology and Architecture to pull up their socks and move ahead to protect and preserve these monuments. If the heritage sites along the road are properly maintained, the road will undoubtedly become a tourist attraction. Heritage lovers all over the world be attracted to the wealth of heritage sites that lie scattered along this road that saw Mughal king Akbar entering the valley and thus making it part of broader Hindustan. Let the construction of the road be completed on priority basis and it be thrown open for heritage tourism.

Mughal route had inns at every 10 miles for travelers

Even though the Mughal route connecting Kashmir Valley with the outside world through Pir Panchal pass existed much before the arrival of Mughals, however, until the Mughal caravans started using it, the route had no political or strategic importance.

Mughal administrators showed a great interest in renovating this route earlier known as the ‘Salt-route’. They renovated the route and built inns and residential accommodations along this route to facilitate easy travel of their caravans.

There is archeological evidence suggesting that inns were constructed at a distance of every 10 miles all long this route and each of these inns was spacious enough to accommodate huge caravans.

The total length of this route from Srinagar to Gujarat (now in Pakistan) measured around 300 miles. At Gujarat it was connected with the Lahore highway.

Traveling on this route one could still find the ruins of Mughal structure at various destinations. Several of the constructions have preserved their courtyards and other ornamentations while a few have lost their structural form and are now visible only as ruins.

Moving from Srinagar along this route, one could see the stray ruins of Kakapoura inn, for instance, even though the actual Mughal structure has totally disappeared here. Historic literature also has reference of the Mughal era inn at Kakapoura, which is also substantiated on ground by stray finds of Mughal style bricks, which the villagers often come across while digging their lands. From Kakapoura the Mughal route takes one via Pulwama and Shopian to the historical village of Hurapura.

Hurapura, now famous for its potato cultivations, even to this day carries in its laps the next Mughal inn. Although the inn is poorly maintained, it provides a picture of Mughal style of inn construction.

Proceeding forward on the route one comes across another inn at Dubigen meadow. This inn which has somehow retained its structural form is locally known as ‘Suka Sarai’. The history of this inn reminds one of Afghan period as well as it was renovated by the Afghans when they ruled Kashmir who superimposed their own structure over it. This inn is in open meadow and presents a glorious look reminiscent of its erstwhile grandeur.

After crossing the long Dubigan meadow, one could see the last Mughal construction in the Kashmir valley side. This is a larger inn, called "Aliabad Sarai’ located at an important place.

This inn is believed to have accommodated and served the largest caravans. Caravans from Valley and opposite direction used to halt for the night in this inn.

Caravans starting from Srinagar early in the morning would reach Aliabad at sunset. This inn consisted of several open rooms and had a capacity of accommodating hundreds of travellers.

Aliabad inn has also preserved its four walls and even to this day is being used as a temporary shelter by the troops stationed in the area. Walking beyond the Aliabad, Mughal route winds up on to the top ridge of Pir Panchal called Peergali.

From here, one could see the area of Poonch on other side of the Pir Panchal range.
Peergali serves as an entrance gate. The shrine of Sheikh Karam Sahib (RA) is located here. About Sheikh Karam Sahib (RA), a Sufi saint, it is said that he was born Hindu and later embraced Islam at the hands of a Sayyed.

The annual Urs at this shrine is celebrated every year during the harvest season and participants include the people of far-flung areas of Poonch district. From Peergali, Mughal route takes slopes down the Pir Panchal range and leads towards the Panj Sarai area of Poonch district.

From Hurapura to Panch Sarai, it is a queue column with no permanent human settlements visible anywhere. However, during summers, nomadic shepherds – the Bhakerwals and Gujiars could be are seen moving on the route along with their herds of livestock who stay here in temporary settlements for some time.

Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot – and Akbar crossed Pir Panchal riding Gulfam

The first Mughal emperor who was invited to Kashmir was Jalal-ud-Din Mohammad Akbar, and he was also the first Mughal king who followed the Pir Panchal route now known as Mughal route.

It was the month of Rajab, 996 AH, when Jalal-ud-Din Akbar, then camping at Lahore, decided to visit Kashmir about which he had heard many things. Yousuf Khan, history has it, was the first governor of the newly annexed province (Kashmir) of the Mughal Empire. He was intimated about the royal caravan’s journey. Qasim Khan, another Mughal official was subsequently summoned to Lahore, where he was entrusted the job of clearance and repairing of the Pir Panchal pass, which later later came to be known as ‘Mughal Shehra’ because maximum Mughal royal caravans entered valley through this way.

Qasim Khan after following the directions engaged thousands of sculptors and cleared the route up to Harpura (Shopian), where a grand gateway was laid and decorated for the entry of the royal caravan.

At Harpura elaborate arrangements were made to receive the Mughal caravan and people from all walks of life, who had heard of the proposed visit of the Mughal caravan gathered at Harpura to witness the royal spectacle.

The historical accounts reveal after all the preparations were done, the royal caravan of the Mughals reached the first camping ground of ‘Pan Sarai’ (Poonch) to the south of Pir Panjal. Pan Sarai is nowadays represented by few villages of Chandimund, Bahrqmgalla, Pooshana.

The Pan Sarai was named so as the Mughals had built several inns there. The ruins of those inns are even today visible in Chandimud area. From here the caravan is recorded to have proceeded towards Pir Panjal to reach the top of Panjal called Ratanpir on the very next day.

The Caravan was guided to the Valley by their famous swift footed horse fleet called Gulfam. Even though it was not an easy journey but the sheer enthusiasm of seeing the Kashmir Valley made things easy for them.

The caravan was given a splendid welcome at the Harpura. Besides, the Kashmir’s Mughal governor, nobles, poets, writers, intellectuals and musicians who had already gathered at Harpura with a variety of gifts welcomed the royal caravan.

The next day, the caravan is said to have reached Srinagar.

It was 25th of Rajab, 996 AH when Akbar arrived at Srinagar. A big congregation was held at Bagh-e-Hussain (the present-day Khanqah-e-Naqshbandia). Akbar was accompanied by Mughal nobles and soldiers as he gave his first speech in Kashmir, addressing the people of the Valley at Bagh-e-Hussain.

In his address to Kashmiris, he directed his forces not to enter or neither stay in any Kashmiri house. Akbar later visited Shahab-ud-Din Pura.

In Kashmir, he is said to have granted high posts and Jagirs to many Kashmiris.
From Srinagar, Akbar went to Pampore and then to Bijbehara, from where he left for Nandmarg to enjoy the scenic splendour of the nature. Nandmarg is situated below the Kounsarnag to the southwest of Kashmir.

Akbar is said to have spent about a month in Kashmir and then Qasim Khan was again directed to clear the way back to Lahore.

Only few of the scores of inns along the route are now visible

From Peer Gali at the top of the Pir Panchal, the Mughal road slopes down towards Panj-Sarai zone and Chandi Murh which represents its own cultural and social life.
The people of this zone speak Pahari language and are continue with their old traditions and customs.

Noori-Chamb, a health resort is situated is this area. It comprises a grand waterfall, where Noor Jahan, the wife of Emperor Janghir had build a ‘Sheesh-Mahal’ for herself. The impressions of mirror on a rock near the waterfall are still visible.

Panj Sarai comprises of several villages including Poshana, Digrian, Behram Gali, Peteni, Parkote Manza, Bagala, Akroth Pathri etc. In this area, Mughals had built not only the inns but also some residential houses. Today one can see only the remains of these Mughal constructions.

From district Poonch, the Mughal road leads to district Rajouri via Dera Gali Pass and first inn of the district Rajouri is situated at Thanamandi. This inn is in good condition and is nowadays occupied by the Muslim Education Trust. From Thanamandi the next inn is situated at Fatehpur Rajouri. But this ‘Sarai’ is in ruins.

After the Fethpur Sarai there comes one more Sarai at Chengus. Chengus is a place of much historical importance as it was here that Emperor Jehangir died while leaving from the Kashmir valley. His body was then shifted from this place to Lahore for last rites.

The sequence of such inns continues all the way up to Lahore, although only a few of these inns are visible now while the rest have fallen to the vagaries of weather and human vandalism over the years.

So far as the Mughal reign is concerned, it has been a constructive period for Kashmir as a whole. Mughal emperors not only produced a composite culture in the region but also restored the traditional arts and cultural heritage of the region. Kashmir was, for instance, beautified with superb constructions and magnificent gardens.

Mughals invaded Kashmir in the time of Sultan Yousuf Shah Chak and conquered it very easily. No doubt that politically it was an attack on the integrity and sovereignty of Kashmir, but economically and socially it was a new era for Kashmir history.

The superb Mughal architecture - mosques, forts, tombs and gardens, are yielding dividends for the tourism sector even today.

The ‘Sarais’ or inns which they constructed on Mughal road form a uniform architectural pattern. There inns were kept square in shape, consisting of many indoor rooms and with large gateways. The material used in their construction comprises of bricks and red-lime.

Nothing is more interesting in these inns than their form, strength and grandeur.
After the Mughals, the Mughal road continued to the serve the Afghan caravans as well. Afghans who followed Mughals, all arrived in Kashmir through this route only.

They were in turn followed by the Sikhs, who also adopted the Mughal route. During this long period, Mughal road served as a backbone for the Kashmir economy. Kashmir carried its trade with Punjab through this route.

During winters Kashmiris used to earn their livelihood in the regions of Punjab and this route provided them the shortest journey to those regions. Mughal road was of great importance until the Sikh period. Sikh administrators made sure that this road, given its strategic and economic importance was kept well maintained through regular repair and renovations.

But as soon as the Dogras emerged on the political screen of Kashmir, the Moghal road started to face neglect. No attention was paid to reconstruct it on modern lines. Instead, the Dogra rulers adopted Baneihall pass and constructed a modern road through this route to connect Srinagar with Jammu.

Although time and again, the successive regimes have talked about restoring the Mughal road, however, for political reasons such promises very never kept.

Once Rs 70 crores were allocated for the construction of this route and a separate engineering wing known as Moghal Road Construction Division was created, but still the major portion of the route remains untouched.

Several times work on the route was suspended without government or its agencies citing any specific reason.

Of late, from the Valley side, the Mughal route has been made motarable up to Harpura and from the other side up to Chandimud. However from Harpura to Chandimud, which is one day’s foot journey, the pace of work has been fairly slow much to everybody’s dismay.

Exploring the Mughal Road

Although the map and geography of the Mughal route stands already established, certain local paths followed by Mughal caravans to different directions of Kashmir are also being rediscovered.

As history will corroborate, Mughals strictly followed the earlier ‘Salt route’ (now known as Mughal road) while entering the Valley. It was in 996 AH that Jalal-ud-Din Muhammad Akbar, who was then at Lahore decided to visit Kashmir and dispatched a group of officials under the guidance of Qasim Khan for the clearance and construction of this route through Harpur (in Shopian). Hurpur was a famous town at that time.

The group besides identifying the possible passage undertook the construction of ‘Sarais’ (inns) for the convenience of the Mughal caravans. The ruins of those Mughal constructions are still visible on the highway at several places.

Harpur, the gateway of Kashmir welcomed almost all the Mughal caravans right form Akbar’s period to the later Mughals. The place served as the entry point into Kashmir even to Durrani and Sikh invaders.

From Harpur, the Mughal caravans had a choice of several local routes leading to different parts of south and northern Kashmir. Historical records which are now being confirmed by archaeological and numismatic finds reveal that Mughal caravans branched out to interiors of the Valley through various other routes in addition to Shopian-Shadimarg-Srinagar highway. These paths went to Nila Nag (Verinag), Anantnag and Bijbehara.

There are also numismatic and archeological finds corroborating this. The numismatic findings comprising few Mughal coins at village Chikoo and Harman were reportedly followed by the unearthing of traces of the debris of some Mughal structure at Mughal Maidan Hajan in the recent past.

These findings have provided ample evidence to establish that this path was being used by Mughal caravans to travel to south-eastern parts of the Valley, the experts believe. What lends further credence to the belief is that these routes are not only nearer to each other but even located in the single direction.

While providing the details, Iqbal Ahmad, a senior Archeologist said that Mughal Maidan was basically a rising plateau on the bank of a stream. “As the plateau was ideally located, it is most probable that Mughals might have constructed some rest-houses on it for the convenience of caravans,” he said.

He further said the site was not investigated by anybody despite the fact that plateau was named after the Mughals. Besides a hoard of copper coins of Mughal era were found at village Chikoo near the Mughal Maidan, he said.

It is believed the emperor Akbar took the Jamal Nagri route to visit northern part of Kashmir when he visited Kashmir in 1001 AH. Today it is recognized by the name of Jama Nagar. The village is located to the west of Mughal Maidan at a distance of 20 km.

The places are situated in a single direction. There are enough reason to believe that some Mughal caravans had used this way to visit Achabal and Verinag, says Iqbal Ahmad.

The road is macadamized today and connects Shopian with Anantang via Kaddar. The people living in the area even today remember the route by its earlier name of ‘Mughal Shehra’.

However, a systematic archaeological survey is required to gather more evidences to establish it properly and to develop it as a historical route, Iqbal Ahmad says.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wildlife Preservation is J&K - Issues and Challenges

Mansoor covers a wide canvass on an interesting ecological issue dealing with wildlife management

(Dr. Mir M. Mansoor, 54, was born in Shopian. He completed his schooling from the M.L. Higher Secondary School in Shopian. He attended the Government Degree College in Anantnag, receiving his B.Sc. degree in Natural Sciences, and subsequently received a degree in Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry (BVSc & AH) from the Ranchi Veterinary College, Rajindrea Prasad University, Bihar. He has received mid-career post-graduate training in Advanced Wildlife Management (AWM) at the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, and a post-graduate diploma in Conservation Breeding & Management of Endangered Species (CBME)from the University of Kent at Centerbury, U.K. Dr. Mansoor is the Chief Wildlife Biologist (Veterinary) in the J&K State Wildlife Protection Department. He has received the "Bharat Jyoti" Award and the "Glory of India" Gold Medal and has 30 publications to his credit. In his leisure time, he enjoys nature photography, travel and browsing on internet.)

Man-Wild Animal Conflict in J&K State


Human history is witness that man and wildlife have had an intimate relationship. In the beginning, man used to be a prey for big predators just like other prey animals and a competitor for herbivores. With the passage of time, and the advent of tools and weapons, man himself became a successful predator and the wild animals became his prey, which he exploited as a resource. But, during the course of time equilibrium was established, when he became a cultivator. His crops and domestic livestock acted as a powerful lure for wild animals, while man was able to snare, trap or shoot them either in the act of preying, feeding, or while they hung around his fields. As bulk of the animals still lived far away from human habitation and the hunting methods were simple. There was little or no trade in wildlife and its derivatives. The number of animals killed was not large enough to endanger their existence. But with the advent of automatic guns, vehicles, new techniques of agriculture and increasing scope for the trade in wildlife products, the equation got vitiated.

In Jammu and Kashmir like other states in India, the interface between man and wildlife narrowed down as the explosion in human population in the 20th century pushed human settlements deep into the remotest parts of our wilderness. The entire countryside became a neighbourhood of man and wildlife. There was little legal protection for animals in the colonial times, with the result wildlife lost its habitat to agriculture and huge numbers to hunting and poaching. Though the official response to this drastic loss came in the form of promulgation of various rules and regulations to regulate hunting, at the national level in the form of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (WPA) which created a strong framework for directing the future conservation efforts of the country.

However, Jammu and Kashmir State, due to its special status, promulgated its own law called Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife Protection Act, 1978, though, the act was almost similar to Central Act. The Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife Protection Act, 1978 was founded on the fact that wildlife is a natural resource which could be preserved if consumed carefully. It proposed creation of a set of graded protected areas, namely national parks, sanctuaries, closed areas and game reserves, where animals were to be fully protected while prescribing conditions under which animals could be hunted and traded in other areas. However, with the passage of time central wildlife act kept on upgrading from time to time through various amendments, which was not the case with the J&K WPA-1978, resulting into a great void and clash in managing the wildlife resources of the state. Ultimately, the J&K WPA-1978, was amended and updated in 2002 thereby filling up the void, which proved a milestone in managing the J&K State wildlife resources.


It is clear that conservation comes at a cost but the costs are distributed unevenly in the society. The government bears the limited cost of maintaining the staff and developing the infrastructure. This cost is negligible when compared with the direct and indirect costs incurred by the local people in terms of lost economic opportunities, crop raiding and livestock depredations. For example in Jammu and Kashmir 101 human deaths, 680 human injuries took place during the period from 2004-2008. In addition there have been some reports of considerable number of cattle depredations by common leopard (in and adjacent to forest areas of Jammu and Kashmir) snow leopard and Tibetan wolf (Ladakh & Kargil areas) and crop raiding especially by black bears, porcupines and monkeys, which generally goes unreported, as there is no record of the extent of damage to crops so far. During the said period 100’s of wild animals, mostly black bears in south Kashmir and common leopards in north Kashmir got also killed in retaliation.

Like many other states, in J&K State also we go for paying some kind of ex-gratia amounts for the injury and loss of human lives, but no such provision exists for compensating livestock depredation and crop damage losses. There are neither attempts to estimate and compensate these costs, nor efforts to alleviate these problems and minimize the costs. Due to inherent conflict between the conservation programmes and the local people, there is little popular sympathy left for wild animals. Some urban elite, the environmentalists and the conservation agencies are the only ones who support conservation. The local people, at the most, want their forests protected but do not want wild animal species in their neighborhood, to which they loose their crops, livestock or some times life of their nears and dears. It is almost impossible to convince them of the reasons for protecting these wildlife species, except as a vague righteous belief in the right of all living beings to live. But in the face of the severe economic hardships that these animals perpetrate, even these traditional beliefs do not stop them from killing these animals.

Estimation of Crop Damages:
Although no studies on the quantification of damage are available in Jammu and Kashmir, even empirical guesstimates suggest that the quantum and spread of this damage is quite astounding. However, before going into further discussion in this regard, it is very essential to clear the minds of some progressive thinkers about a common myth that the man-wild animal conflict is a result of over abundance of some wild animal species. Generally, this expression is used with reference to situations where wild animals cause extensive damage to life and property of man. The perception that there are over-abundant wildlife populations of some species is not well founded. The notion of abundance is based on the fact that wildlife causes widespread damage to human interests, not based on their numbers. The reality is that wildlife is not at all abundant outside a few high profile protected areas like National Parks and Sanctuaries; it only looks abundant on the basis of the damage it causes to our crops, property and life.

A rapid survey, based on interviews with villagers, was conducted in some north and south Kashmir villages near forests in 2008-09 to assess the crop and livestock damage by wild animals. The data suggested that maize, fruits, (including dry fruit like walnuts), vegetables, especially potatoes, turnips, carrots etc. are the crops which are generally damaged by wild animals. The list of raiders most of the time included black bears porcupines and monkeys. Such crop damage attributed to wild animals was found gradually decreasing in village beyond 1.5 kms from the forest boundary. Although these exercises were empirical, but gave us an idea of enormity of the problem. It is obvious that the actual damage to crops, coupled with the opportunity cost of protecting the crops is so high that it deserves a serious attention of the authorities. Equally serious is the loss of quality of life of the people of the vulnerable villages in terms of lost comfort and sleep. Spending close to 100 nights, year after year, perch precariously built machans in cold and wet weather must be a very exasperating experience.

It is obvious from the above that wild animals, both herbivores and predators are a serious issue in the lives of the rural people, especially the tribal communities and other poorer sections. While predators have to pay the price in terms of poisoning, snaring and in some cases electrocution deaths. Therefore, it becomes mandatory for us as wildlife managers to deal the problem not only as conservation oriented one but as socio-economic one as well.


There are some fallowing mentioned possible strategies which can prove a better deal if applied to address the man-animal conflict problem in the state.

As long as man and animals share common habitats, damage to life and property of humans is inevitable. It is true that the extent of damage depends upon the density of the problem populations around croplands and human habitations. The preventive strategies can be based on either keeping the numbers of animals low or putting barriers (both physical and psychological) between the wild animals and croplands / human habitations. Since, in most of the Indian states including Jammu and Kashmir human habitation is intimately interspersed with wildlife habitats, therefore putting fences on forest or PA boundaries may be worthwhile at only very few locations.

Another option can be putting power fences around vulnerable villages, leaving corridors for wild animals between the power fences. In fact, a combination of both the approaches, based on site-specific requirements, will have to be adopted.

Population Management:
Scientific management of predator populations is of critical importance to their well being, as otherwise, the populations may explode in already shrunken habitats and push themselves, and their sympatric species, into extinction, by destroying their own habitat and prey base. Population management is all the more important in situations where these populations earn human hostility by damaging their life and property. The problem animals outside PAs, where they are in serious conflict with local human interests are in serious and imminent danger of being wiped out, because they are not wanted there. These problem animals can only be saved if they lose their nuisance value or turn into a positive resource for the people concerned. Translocation (with least impact), culling and sport hunting are the only solutions for managing populations.

a. Translocation
Translocation of wild animals is a routine activity in some African and European countries as the technique is mainly used for trading animals and stocking new protected areas or private game reserves. But, in India, as a whole, we hardly have so far considered translocation of wild animals at such a large scale. However, any translocation at a reasonable scale could only result into temporary relief by shifting or avoiding the problem for some time, as in most of the individual problem animal translocation cases, either the problem animal has reiterated back to its original habitat or has repeated to create problems at its new place of release.

b. Culling
Culling term is more often used to describe an operation when management agencies decide to kill large numbers of animals, of selected age and sex, to balance the population size, or its growth rate, to suit the available habitat. But, the issue is what to do with dead animals in the light of the legal prohibition against utilizing the products of culling for consumption or trade.

c. Sport Hunting
Sport hunting, through permits, is the only viable way of managing wildlife populations in the long run. Hunting is one of the most popular recreation activities in the world for which people are ready to pay any amounts of money. Wild animals near human habitations are generally being killed by local people through poisoning, snaring, or in some cases by deliberate electrocution. Besides, occasional permits are also issued by the wildlife department for killing problem animals, who otherwise could pose serious threat to life and property of people. If such animals are officially harvested, which otherwise become victim of retaliatory killing, and share the returns with the communities, the same animals can become a source of revenue. This will tend to minimize poaching as the local people will have an incentive in guarding the animals.

Where the damage to life and property of man is inevitable, it becomes mandatory for the state governments to compensate these losses because by feeding the animals on their crops or domestic livestock or killing the humans, the farmers are directly bearing the cost of maintaining our wildlife, at least partially. Many state governments have compensation schemes in place but generally prefer to call it ex-gratia because the amounts offered are not comparable to the losses incurred.

In most cases, the system of investigations before a payment can be made is so cumbersome that it is hard to imagine any money reaching the affected people at all. Therefore, the schemes are not really serving their obvious purpose of controlling the hostility of the people against wildlife. As everybody knows that the poorest people are already paying the cost, it is reasonable for the government authorities to set norms and fix some criteria for footing such bills. Though it sounds utopian, such systems already exist in the western countries. In Great Britain no assessment of actual loss is required as the loss will depend on the number of birds/wild animals seen in a private property.


Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1978 (amended up to 2002) in its current form does not support any population management options. Section 11 gives a very restrictive definition of ‘Scientific management’ of wildlife as ‘translocation of any wild animals to an alternative suitable habitat’ or ‘population management of wildlife without killing or poisoning or destroying any wild animals’. Section 10 (1) (b) of the Act, permits hunting of wild animals belonging to Schedule II, III and IV, if they become dangerous to human life and property, including standing crops. There is a glaring contradiction between these two sections. What section 10 permits us in terms of permitting ‘hunting’ problem populations, section 11 has taken it away by putting serious constraints on the term ‘management’. As we have no expertise in mass translocation of wild animals, we are in no position, at all, to manage our problem populations. However, we can hunt these populations to their extermination without calling it ‘management’ as section 11 permits hunting in all its expressions, such as killing, poisoning and destroying etc. Hunting and translocation are the only tools for scientific management of wildlife. But, while translocation is an emergency response in selected situations, hunting is a routine operation for managing wildlife populations all over the world. By outlawing hunting we have almost totally eliminated any chances of serious attempts at alleviating the suffering of forest dwelling communities.

Scientific management of wildlife is a tool to draw maximum benefits from this resource as well as to minimize the losses due to human wildlife conflict. These benefits can be drawn only through a system of ownership, utilization and trade of wildlife products such as meat, trophies etc. The Act does not permit any of these enterprises. Under such circumstances, management of populations, over abundant or not, is irrelevant.

In response to the wide spread hue and cry against crop damage by nilgai, wild pig and black buck, in many Indian states, such as UP, MP, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, etc. have already permitted their hunting, except black buck, under severe restrictions. Madhya Pradesh has permitted killing of nilgai and wild pig but as per reports no one has applied for permission because of impossible and impractical conditions imposed.

Pluralism, Not Polarization, is the Answer to State's Future

Shahil bats for democracy, pluralism and inter-community dialogue

(Mr. Sahil Showkat, 24, was born in Badripora Naina Sangam, near Awantipora, in Pulwama district. He graduated from the Government Degree College in Anantnag, and his post graduation in Political Science from the University of Kashmir. He is currently a M. Phil. scholar in the Department of Political Science, University of Kashmir.)

The Problem of Identity and Regional Demand

The post modern thought recognizes two basic human urges; one for identity and other for unity. Both would be crushed in forcible uniformed communities. The process of modernization, democratization, information explosion and technological revolution has sharpened the urge for identity. Unity and identity are quite different things. Unity in international perspective is a political feeling whereas identity is local and regional issue, rooted in imagination and is the work of culture.

In fact, there is no singular construct of identity. Identity has multiple natures making people live many identities at a time. This is because of the cross cutting nature of social cleavages and oceanic evolution and formation of identity. Yet what is more pronounced is regional identity. Even the individual's objective acquires regional specificity. It is the performative variation in identity that distinguishes one region from other. We may presume that the regional identity and entity as significant bearing an approach taking towards the demand, or the regional configuration. These regional identities - its formation, expression, assertion, has been a complicated phenomenon. Most surprisingly regionalism or autonomy movements are based mainly on the concept of identity in Jammu and Kashmir.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir is constituted by three main regions: Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. The internal politics of the state is marked by internal tensions and has influenced the attitude of the people on their external affiliations. In each of the three regions of the state, there is a different perception and attitude on the issue of accession. A sort of local nationalism has developed in all the three regions of the state. People's alienation from the national identity has been constant problem in Kashmir from long time. They tend to give more importance to ethno - religious and regional identities than to considerations of unified state and the nation. In Jammu and Ladakh regions, regionalism developed as a reaction to the politics of the Kashmir valley where the special status propped the accession of the state to India.

While as the people in Kashmir like to put more emphasis on the issue of autonomy of the state, in Jammu, people in the existing set up, prefer a strong state-centre relation. The Kashmir people mount pressure for the state as against the centre where as people of Jammu demand autonomy against the Kashmir domination. Like the people of Jammu, the Buddhist in Ladakh has also been mobilized against Kashmiri domination. The leaders from Jammu region would usually club Ladakh with Jammu region. Thus, whenever there is a movement against Kashmir domination, they would often allege that people of both Jammu and Ladakh regions do not receive fair and equitable treatment. They insist that the government should ensure a sense of equality among the people of three regions and the existing regional identities should be maintained and kept intact. Therefore, the entire fabric of politics in the state has been mainly based on two issues; the relationship between the Kashmir valley and the centre on the one hand and the relationship between the Kashmir valley, Jammu and Ladakh regions on the other.
The political divergence mentioned above has often become the basis of politicization by the political groups and organizations situated in the three regions of the state. Right from the time of state's accession in 1947 politics has been generated around the issue of Jammu's regional interest vis-à-vis Kashmir. The political discourse of regional discrimination and political deprivations claiming themselves has popularized the movements either for trifurcation of the state or for the demand for regional autonomy between these three regions. In this context of political divergence, the inter-regional relationship makes the process of peace most challenging. The local sensitivities in this context assume importance because the issue of political divergence between the Jammu and Kashmir is highly computable to peace process initiated by the govt. of India. The Government of India should also take cognizance of the fact to involve the political leadership that claims to represent the people of the three regions. However, the complexity to the issue of peace and dialogue is provided not as much by the multiplicity of political voices as by their divergence. It is in this context of political divergence that the idea of an intra-state dialogue has acquired prominence. This demand for an intra-state dialogue has not been raised only by the Jammu based political leaders who fear marginalization of their voices in the peace process but also by the Kashmiri separatists who concede the possibility of failure of the process in the absence of an internal synchronization of political views. Abdul Gani Lone, the leader of the People's Conference, was among the first separatist leaders who recognized the need to engage the voices outside the separatist politics to evolve a broad - based consensus towards the resolution of Kashmir problem. He had organized the first such meetings in Jammu where leaders across the political spectrum were invited to voice their opinion on the issue.

However it should be noted that the intra-state dialogue assumes importance in the context of the multiple identity politics within the state that has been sharpen since accession. Most of the identity politics, operating in terms of ''we'' and ''they'' has created polarity between different regions and sub - regions. Thus, it is not only the politics of ''Jammu versus Kashmir'' or ''Kashmir versus Ladakh'' that has been sharpened in the last few years, but also the politics of ''Leh versus Kargil'', ''Jammu versus Doda'' and Jammu versus Poonch - Rajouri etc. The internal polarization that has taken place, consequently, has dangerous potential as it can give substance to divisive agendas. To nip such divisive tendencies in the bud, it becomes important to build bridges between the regions and sub - regions through the process of dialogue, otherwise it may generate tensions within the state. To mitigate these diverse agendas of identity, the number of such formulas have been floated from time to time like the Chenab Formula, the series of formulas offered by the U.S Based Kashmir Study Group, or the more recent Musharaf's Multi - Regional Formula (as well as the internal demands of organizations like Jammu State Morcha and Ladakh Buddhist Association to reorganize the state by separating Jammu and Ladakh from Kashmir). These formulas, do not matched with the ground realties and clearly negate the traditional tenor of the region. That is why these formulas are not being taken very seriously at the local level.

To conclude, we can say that the regional analysis of the popular political aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir is based on a ''cause and effect'' relationship. There is no consensus among the people living in different regions of the state with respect to their political future. They stand divided along the regional, religious and ethno lines. Considering the physical and social diversity of the state, its spatial and cultural ties with its neighboring countries, any effort to make Jammu and Kashmir either an independent country or a part of Pakistan or a part of India will not be acceptable to the people of the state entirely.
In order to find a permanent solution to the Kashmir crisis, the people of all regions need to be consulted, to ascertain their regional aspirations. More importantly the people of the state need to be allowed to have an inter-ethnic, inter - religious and inter-regional dialogue to develop consensus to fulfill the mutual political aspirations of the people living in different regions of the state.

Hence, there is a need to develop a democratic, federal, plural and non - centralized type of model that alone can ensure harmony among diverse identities of the state and make them a source of real strength and model for other states of India.

Padmashri P. N. Kaula Remembered by a Close Associate at the University of Kashmir

Padmashri Prof. Prithvi Nath Kaul, world known Library and Information Sciences Specialist, left this world on 31st August 2009. Following is a Tribute by his close associate Dr. Abdul Majid Baba

(Dr. Abdul Majid Baba, 51, is the Deputy University Librarian at the University of Kashmir. He was educated at the University of Kashmir and the Delhi University. A distinguished scholar, Dr. Baba has strong academic credentials in Library Sciences, having completed his M.A , M.Lib.Sc, M.Phil (Lib.Sc), Ph.D (Lib. Sc), and qualified in the first batch of the National Educational Test (NET) in 1986 conducted by the University Grants Commission (UGC) of India, and holds the distinction of securing the First Position in Library & Information Science. He joined the University of Kashmir in 1979 as Senior Professional Assistant and has risen up the ranks to the position of senior most Deputy University Librarian. He has participated in national & international conferences, and contributed in national & international journals and attempted three Books. His publications have been well recieved especially the paper, "Vajpayee-Musharaf Agra Summit: A Chronology of Events." Dr. Baba is widely traveled in India & abroad. In February 2009 he recieved the "BHARAT EXCELLENCY AWARD" at a function in New Delhi at the India International Center.)


Prof. Prithvi Nath Kaul (Commonly known as P.N. Kaula in the Library Profession) was born in a lower middle class family at Haba Kadal Srinagar Kashmir on March 13, 1924. His contributions on Library & Information Science had come to my knowledge when I was a student of B.Lib.Sc. at the University of Kashmir in 1978. It was 1982 when I met Prof. P.N.Kaula at Lucknow during Indian Library Association Conference. A tall bald headed man to whom I had never seen before but apprehending him as Prof. Kaula.

I was introduced before this gigantic personality of the International Librarianship. At the first sight, he questioned me, are you same Mr. Baba from Kashmir University who has co-authored Library classification book with Prof. Moti Lal Wali. I told, yes Sir. This was the beginning of our close relationship. Later on, we developed Professional Relationship as well as Family Relationship. I feel it is my moral duty to present a tribute to such a great personality on my behalf and on behalf of the Library Profession and above all he was the son of the soil (Kashmir).

Prof. P. N. Kaula worked against the different positions viz (i) President Indian Library Association, (ii) President Indian Public Library Association, (iii) President Indian Association of Teachers of Library and Information Science, (iv) Chairman Council of Literacy and Adult Education, (v) University Librarian, Professor and Head Department of Library and Information Science & Dean Faculty of Arts Banaras Hindu University, (vi) Emeritus Professor (UGC) Lucknow University (vii) UNESCO Expert and Consultant, (viii) Counselor, International Council for Professional Education, (ix) Chairman, Panel of Library & Information Science (UGC).

He was honoured by several awards for his contributions in the field of Library and Information Science at National / International level viz Padmashri Award (India) Gold Medal- Mundi Beneficio Medal (Brazil), Deutsche Bucherei Medal (Germany), Commemorative Medal of Honour (USA).

Prof. Kaula was the Editor of two International reputed journals of Library Science viz (i) Herald of Library Science (ii) International Information, Communication and Education.

The Times Library supplement, London (UK) has described Prof. Kaula “one of the most influential Librarians in the world”. There will be hardly any country Prof. Kaula had not visited. He lectured in (27) countries and lectured in over (50) Universities including America, UK, France, Germany, Brazil, Spain, Canada.

International Prof. Kaula Festschrift volume has been published in honour of Prof. P.N.Kaula on his 50th birth day in 1974. The eminent contributions to this volume have rightly acclaimed him as a person of meritorious achievements.

He has authored 60 plus Books / Monographs, 6 Professional journals (Founder-Editor), Over 400 scholarly papers, over 400 reviews, 43 Bibliographies and 6000 notes.

In India we have Prof. Kaula Endowment for Library And Information Science formed on 13th March, 1975, the birthday of Prof. Kaula and its Head Office is at Guntur (Andhra Pradesh). The Endowment has decided to award “Prof. Kaula Gold Medal and Citation” to a person who distinguished himself as a Librarian, Documentalist or a Teacher of library & Information Science at International Level. Some distinguished persons all over the world have received the Award selected by the International Award Committee. The Endowment has decided to institute a similar award for Indian Librarians and Information specialists. The award is named “Ranganathan-Kaula Award” and is awarded to an Indian Professional who has made distinct contributions in the field. Prof. Rangnathan is regarded as the “FATHER OF LIBRARY SCIENCE” and Prof. Kaula was his DISCIPLE.

If we will look at the journey of Prof. Kaula from Srinagar to other parts of the Country / World, he started his career as a Librarian in DAV College, Srinagar and had returned after receiving training from Prof. (Dr.) S.R. Rangnathan. He transformed his mission of life and started a campaign for Library development in the J&K state-May 1946-August 1947. He unlocked the almirahas of books and kept Library open upto 6 p.m. He wrote and published (108) articles in the State Press- “Khidmet”, “Hamdard”, “Desh”, “Nav Yug”, “Ranbir”, “Chand” and “Kashmir Chroncle”. He drafted the scheme for the Library Development of J&K State as well. He wrote a small book: “Kashmir me Ilmi Inqlab”.

He laid down the mission of his life in the following Urdu couplet:

“Har Raz Ko Bay Niqab Karna Hai Mujay
Har Zara ko Aftab Karna Hai Mujay

Gareeb Jahil Bay Bus Logoo Ko
Ilm Say Baar Yaab Karna Hai Mujay”

(Prof. Kaula)

“I have to unfold the secrets of the world:
I have to transform every atom into a sun:
To the poor, ignorant and down trodden people
I have to enlighten them with knowledge”.

He wrote and published poems on education and Libraries.

He was invited by the then Vice-Chancellor to draft the plan of the Jammu and Kashmir University Library and also prepared a Library Development Plan of the Sri Pratap Public Library at the invitation of the then Education Commissioner.

In 1947, he received an order from Birla Education Trust, Pilani appointing him the Librarian in lecturer’s scale and joined there. Later on, he joined Delhi University Library as Junior Library Assistant leaving the post of Librarian that was in higher scale. It was simply to work and learn from Prof. Dr. S.R. Rangnathan who was at that time in Delhi University. Prof. Kaula took this risk leaving the higher post. From Delhi University, he rose to higher positions. Though Prof. Kaula spent most of his life outside Kashmir, but he could not afford to forget his land of birth. While remaining outside, Kashmir was always in his mind. He used to come Kashmir off and on. He depicted its scenic beauty, cultural heritage and secular nature of its in habitants through his writings. I used to meet him off and on during seminars / conferences and had telephonic conversations; he always used to discuss Kashmir regarding its educational and Libraries development.

Prof. P.N.Kaula was very close to late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. The State of Jammu and Kashmir would have enacted Library bill / act and the Library development plan prepared by Prof. Kaula and submitted to the then Prime Minister late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1951. Unfortunately political developments changed the priorities in the state. The then Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah had agreed to enact Library act, but before it could be done, his ministry was dismissed in 1953. Later when he became the Chief Minister in 1975, he immediately appointed a Committee vide Govt. order No. 1867 GD of 1975 dated 18-09-1975 to go into working of the Department of Libraries & Research and also to recommended improvements which were necessary to run the Department on Scientific lines.

Last-time,I met Prof. Kaula at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) during International workshop held during January 24-25, 2009 where he had to deliver keynote address. He was looking very weak and the Vice-Chancellor of AMU supported him while coming on the dice. But there was no change in his voice and Prof. Kaula was famous for his voice.

Prof. Kaula settled at Indra Nagar, Lucknow. By passing away of Prof. Kaula, important chapter of Library & Information Science has been closed. If we describe Prof. Kaula, it can take hundreds of pages. Even the World’s First D. Litt thesis in Library and Information Science has been written about his works, contributions and impact on International Library and Information Field.

Crimes Against Kashmiri Women by Domestic Sources on the Rise

Zeenat's report indicates that the society has a tendency to publicise police atrocities while downplaying domestic violence which is slowly dwarfing other causes

Kashmiri Women on the Receiving End

Zeenat Zeeshan Fazil (Kashmir Images)

Srinagar: Rising incidence of molestation in Kashmir calls for demilitarization backed up with proper and broad-based social initiative both at individual as well as collective levels, says an expert who has studied the problem here.

Molestation, this heinous crime against the women, especially in the domestic settings, was unheard of in Kashmir until recent past. However, during past couple of decades, incidents of molestation regularly make it to the news and experts believe that the past 20 years of political turmoil have intensified this problem.

“The molestation of women inside as well as outside the domestic framework, especially of the younger age groups, represents brutal action which hurts the women absolutely,” says a study by Valley’s noted sociologist, Prof Bashir Ahmad Dabla.

Dabla’s sample of survey comprised 200 women respondents across the Valley. And according to the study, while in domestic framework, most of the times, people involved in molesting women included cousins, distant relatives and neighbors, in out-of-domestic context, office colleagues and armed forces and armed militants were found involved in more than 60 percent of the cases.

On the places where acts of molestation are committed, the research reveals that most of the cases occurred at residential places and offices followed by agriculture fields.

The researcher studied 66 molestation cases which had occurred in 2000-2001. However, only five of these cases had been reported to the police, which shows that majority of such cases go unreported.

On the cause responsible for the acts of molestation, the research points out that “16 percent cases occurred during raids by the armed forces, 11 cases resulted in over-crowded public places, love-related matters accounted for percent, enmity and jealousy of working women for six percent, sexual lust seven percent, indecent dress of women contributed for four percent cases, while physical beauty of women accounted for two percent cases, acts of juvenile delinquency were responsible for six percent and impact of films another six percent cases.

On the short-term and long-term implications of molestation on victims’ lives, most of the respondents, the research reveals, preferred silence. “This response may be explained in terms of the tendency to hide the actual details. However, a few respondents conveyed the consequences of molestation as losing good reputation, creating marital problems, compelling some to commit suicide, difficulty in getting proper match for girls, developing psychological problems, and extreme and negative reaction of men,” the study reveals.

Dabla says the percentage figures of molestation cases in 2009 will be much higher than what it was in 2000-2001.

“It has increased both in contexts of modernization, westernization as well as militarization,” he says, adding “the militarization aspect has increased more as compared to modernization and westernization.”

On preventive measures, Dabla said, “Demilitarization should be initiated with solid commitment on part of military hierarchy. They should order their forces and train them to learn and respect the cultures and sentiments of the local people.” Dabla says, “There should also be broad-based social initiative on part of individuals and groups to stop the menace.”

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pathetic State of Kashmir's Lakes and Waterways

Musavirr provides an update of the worsening problem

(Mr. Musavirr Wani, 28, was born in Srinagar and attened the Burn Hall School. He graduated from the Meerut University and joined the Kashmir Times as a reporter. Loves driving his car and surfing internet to seek out workshops and fellowships so that he can travel and present the true picture of Kashmir.)

Water Bodies In Kashmir Under Constant Threat

The water bodies in Kashmir are under constant threat. Kashmir is also called the "heaven on earth" because of the lofty mountain peaks and the natural water reservoirs. There are numerous springs, lakes, channels and rivers whose origin lies somewhere in the heart of mountains. Among such unlimited water bodies is world famous Dal Lake.

The water of the Dal Lake was considered to be fit for drinking but the manipulations done to the same has made it so dirty and filthy that most people do not like to wash their hands with its water. The main reason which is responsible for water pollution in Dal Lake is the human touch. All the outlet pipes and the waste pipes of hotels and houseboats reserve their wastes in the Dal only. Due to which not only the water of the Dal has been polluted but the aquatic life of whole Dal Lake has been under the threat from last two decades with the result of which several species of flora and fauna are under extinction day by day.

Besides, the known factors, like human settlements (60,000 people), hotels (300), floating gardens, and even dhobi ghats on the periphery, are contributing to the lake's slow death. The lake, which has shrunk from 75 sq kilometers to mere 11.56 sq km, has ammonical nitrogen of over 1.57 mgl, with the maximum permissible limit being 0.5 mgl.

Another indicator is the chemical oxygen demand (COD), which was 41.8 mgl at the Nehru Park basin. Though the permissible level of COD is 9 mgl, it varied from minimum 18.76 mgl to maximum of 41.8 mgl, says the report.

The phosphates concentration, which should be less than 0.1 mgl, was also found to be increasing, with 1.18 mgl recorded at Hazratbal Basin, and a constant increase recorded all though the Lake. The report also states that the dissolved oxygen was found to be declining at various basins of the Dal. The pH value was also put on a higher alkaline side, with 7.39 at Nehru Park basin to 8.16 at Nigeen basin.

The depth of the lake has also decreased from 17 feet in 1970s to less than nine feet. The regular surveys of Lake and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) have also shown a rise in pollutants, though the department authorities say that the government was seriously working towards saving the Dal.

In addition to the houseboats where some 7,500 people live, another 50,000 people live on little islands within the lake area. The lake's environmental deterioration can be attributed rightly to human settlements within and near the lake.

Brightly coloured floating vegetable gardens have also become big sources of contamination. Dal Lake's floating gardens on rafts made of reeds make it one of the Indian Kashmir's biggest vegetable producing areas. Pesticides used by farmers find their way into the lake, causing colossal damage to its fauna and flora.

Shocking Statistics About Women's Health Care in Kashmir

Kashmiri women are twice as likely to have reproductive health issues as women in rest of the country

61 % of married women suffer from reproductive problems: Study

Srinagar: The two decades of conflict has resulted in one or more reproductive health problems in almost 61 percent of married women in the State, a study by National Family Health Survey (NFHS) has revealed.

“The impact of Kashmir conflict on women here has resulted in drastic increase in the incidences of reproductive health disorders,” Help Foundation CEO, Iqbal Lone told Rising Kashmir, while quoting a study by NFHS conducted in 2008.

Against national percentage average of 39 percent, he said, the study has found almost 61 percent married women reporting with one or more reproductive health problems.

“Prior to 1989 the percentage was same as in rest of India which is 39 percent. The upward slant is a result of conflict,” Lone said.

The same survey, he said, has revealed that the prevalence of reproductive health problems in Kashmir generally decreases with age and that reproductive health problems are slightly more common among rural women (61percent) than urban women (57 percent).

Quoting from study, Lone added, “The reproductive health problems are far more common among Muslim women which is 72 percent, than among Hindu which is 47percent and in Sikh women, it is just 32 percent.”

Lone said that violence and trauma has deeply scarred women and children, particularly the widows and orphans.

“Increase in violence against women in Kashmir, cases of rape, juvenile delinquency, domestic abuse, atrocities against women are all directly correlated to increase in psychosocial disorders among people,” he said. He said that ever growing incidence and cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other psychosocial disorders among the victims of conflict are particularly women and children.

Meanwhile, a psychiatrist Dr Majid said the chronic stress is associated with hypertension, peptic ulcer disease, fluctuating blood sugars in diabetics, menstrual irregularities, abortions and other reproductive problems.

“All these could be due to irregularity in hormonal levels in HPA (Hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis), which indirectly controls the emotions and responds in stressful situations,” he said.

“Actually psychological implications in women living in conflict zones are a hidden diagnosis. It exhibits iceberg phenomenon which means most of them are not reported,” Dr Majid added.

The psychiatrist believes it is mainly women who suffer more than men in any armed struggle. “So need of the hour is to increase awareness about clinical manifestation,” he said.

(Rising Kashmir)