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.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wanton Destruction or Planned Pruning

Zeenat sees a Mahabharta being played out in Hazratbal with University officials behaving as Kaurav brothers

University Destroys Kashmir’s Chinar Heritage

Zeenat Zeeshan Fazil (Kashmir Images)

Srinagar: Vice Chancellor, Kashmir University occupied multiple columns on the front pages of most of the Valley based daily newspapers claiming to develop Naseem Bagh as ‘Chinar Heritage Park’, to protect ‘endangered Chinar trees’ within the campus.

January 21 - Chinar trees in Naseem Bagh were resembling Draupadi whose Wastharran (striping) was done shamelessly by the Karaus of Kashmir University. Scores of Chinar trees within Naseem Bagh Campus have been pruned within past few days and the process goes on, sources said.

The processes of making the trees more ugly by chopping the branches, insiders say, is aimed at erecting a canteen building in the vicinity. “Making claims is one thing and standing by these is different,” said a former president of university students union. “The University authorities are intending to construct a canteen and the branches of the Chinar trees are being pruned to make space for the same,” he said.

However, University Public Relations Officer (PRO), Showkat Shafi says the authorities have sought permission from the Divisional Commissioner to prune the trees for ‘their health.’ “We are cutting dead branches of the tress in order to give them better look and for that we have taken the permission from Divisional Commissioner’s office,” Shafi told Kashmir Images.

But the Valley Citizens Council (VCC) that spearheads the ‘Save Chinar’ campaign is not going to buy Shafi’s statement. “Who has given the permission for pruning,” questioned renowned scholar, satirist and environmental activist, Zareef Ahmad Zareef.

Zareef said that a circular was issued by the Divisional administration, sometime back, ordering formation of a committee comprising of members from department of floriculture, revenue, civil society and other concerned departments and only after a clarification from this committee, Chinar trees could be pruned or cut. “Despite the circular, the committee has not been established,” Zareef said, adding, “When the Committee is not there, wherefrom the University authorities have sought the permission to prune the Chinar trees?”

Lamenting administration’s attitude towards Kashmir’s heritage (Chinar), Zareef told Kashmir Images that the man appointed as Chinar Development Officer, Meraj-ud-Din has all along been ruthless to the species. “We have been protesting against him, there are Vigilance cases against him but still he continues to be there destroying the heritage,” Zareef said.

Zareef said that the said officer was even punished for ordering pruning and cutting of Chinar trees at Bijbehara sometime back. “He (Kala) was in lock-up for three days,” Zareef said, wondering, why he continues to be holding the post.

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