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.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hoping Against Hope

A 5,000 year old community celebrates with optimism even as it prepares for its final journey towards oblivion ... only 3,445 souls are left today

Pandits Celebrate Ram Navmi as Unity Day

Srinagar: Special prayers and ‘havans’ were held across the Valley today on the occasion of Ram Navmi,

the birthday of Lord Rama, which was celebrated as Hindu, Muslim and Sikh unity day. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Ram was born on this day on Chait Navami in Ayodhya (UP), owing to which the day is marked as Ram Navami. Special prayers including fasts and readings of Ramayana mark the day. Pandits, who did not migrate when the members of the community left the Valley in early 90s, celebrated Ram Navmi with religious fervour and gaiety throughout the Valley today.

Right from the early morning, hundreds of Hindu devotes gathered at the Ramji temple at Barbarshah for special prayers, where despite the happiness and gaiety of the festival, many Pandits wore a sombre and melancholic look.

“We pray to God for peace and joy for the whole world, especially in Jammu and Kashmir state,” said the organisers of the special ‘puja’ at Ramji temple.

“We suffered very much, lost our loved ones,” they said and expressed hope for peace, joy and return of happy days again.

This year, the Hindu Welfare Society Kashmir (HWSK) celebrated the day as Hindu, Muslim and Sikh unity day.

HWSK leaders said that organising special prayers was aimed at revival of thousands-years-old brotherhood, which was affected due to turmoil.

Describing the Kashmir as Valley of Saints, Reshis and Sufis, they prayed to God and took oath to work for restoration of good old days.

Lauding the role of majority community for helping to reopen the temples locked for the past two decades, again in the Valley, the HWSK leaders alleged that state and central governments had failed to announce any package for those Pandits who remained in the Valley.

“We have 500 educated unemployed youths in the community who do not have any source of income,” they said, adding that most of the Pandit families live in not-so-good conditions and must be rehabilitated.

HWSK leaders said the step-motherly treatment meted out to the Pandits living in the Valley was forcing them to migrate from here.

In the central Kashmir district of Budgam, Pandits organized a ‘havan’ at Sheikhpora where ‘puja’ was held for peace and prosperity in the Valley.

“We prayed for return of old days when people of all faiths joined each other in celebrating festivals,” the Pandits who participated in the prayers said, adding that they were greeted by their Muslim brethren on the occasion.

Similar prayer meetings were held at other temples of the Valley as well.

(Kashmir Images)

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