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.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

SHRC Suffers Under Benign State Neglect

There is no excuse for the J&K Government to marginalize the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC)

‘Toothless’ SHRC Seeks More Powers

Arif Shafi Wani (Greater Kashmir)

Srinagar: In a bid to ensure compliance of its recommendations and make itself a vibrant autonomous body, the State Human Rights Commission has sought more powers from the Government.

“I have written to the Governor, NN Vohra, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, to grant more powers to the Commission,” the chairperson of SHRC, Justice (Retd) Bashiruddin told Greater Kashmir on Sunday.

Constituted in 1997 the SHRC is governed by Jammu and Kashmir Protection of Human Rights Act 1997. By virtue of the which, the Commission can order investigations in cases of human rights violations and recommend measures for effective implementation of laws and safeguards provided by the Constitution to protect the human rights.

“Without meaning to cast shadow on the Legislature in proclaiming the Commission’s autonomous character to safeguard, protect, spread and promote human rights, the provisions of the Act and rules in practice have not yielded desired results,” The chairperson said.

Elaborating he said, in many cases realization of human rights to life, liberty, opportunity and dignity has “remained illusory.” “Even public servants have not been made accountable for their omission and commissions.”

He said over a period of time, non-accountability of public servants combined with “lax attitude” had given currency to widespread impression that the Commission’s recommendations were not meant for compliance or implementation.

“Though the provisions of the Act at the first sight give an impression that the Commission is an autonomous body, but the it’s closer examination proves that it is not so. To make the Act effective and purpose oriented it needs to be amended to bring it with tune with times,” he said.

The Commission has sought amendment to section 12 of the Act which pertains to failure of the public authority to initiate action and complete follow up within stipulated time. “We should be empowered to take action against the officers who fail to implement our recommendations,” he said, “The Government should provide us with a nodal officer or authority to stall the attempts to kill or delay our time bound recommendations.”

The Commission has asked for appointment of its members and full powers and re-fixing of the chairperson’s term as per the provisions of Central Human Rights Act, 1993. Besides it has sought the Commission’s headquarters at Kashmir and Jammu for its wider reach.

It has also demanded amendment to section 22 for making grants instead of providing budget to the Commission.

Pertinently during the PDP-Congress alliance in 2006, Justice Ali Muhammad Mir had resigned as the chairperson of SHRC to protest against the non-implementation of the Commission’s recommendations. Mir’s resignation besides causing embarrassment to the Government, had propelled the then opposition National Conference, to accuse the coalition regime of failing to curb the rights abuses in the State.

► Powers To Punish Non-Complying Officials
► Nodal Officer To Follow Recommendations
► Funds As Grants Not As 'Budget'
► Headquarters At Srinagar, Jammu

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