Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bound by More Than the Fate

Deepika Thussoo narrates a personal story of helping a distressed stranger far removed from her home which belongs to both

.... And When I Saw a Mad Kashmiri Woman

Not so long ago, I came across a Kashmiri woman in Jammu.

The story of this mentally challenged woman needs to be narrated to the whole world, to unfold the trauma people of Jammu and Kashmir are going through from last 20 years.

I was passing over Tawi Bridge, when I spotted her, moving across frantically in the mad rush of Jammu traffic. Any time she could have hit by a speedy vehicle. But that didn’t seem to bother her. Her disturbing image stirred my conscience and forced me to know about the woman. I could not brush her off from my mind. She was lurking in front of my eyes. The vivid image of a young woman in rags and unkempt hair struck me. I should do something for her.

I stopped thinking for some time. Her dismal image overshadowed my mind, as I was going for my routine job. Suddenly, I decided to return to her.

“Sardarji, you saw that girl on the flyover. Please take me to her,” I requested Sardarji, the autowala.

“How nice”, came the reply. Both of us did not know what will happen next. But we rushed towards the spot. Widened our eyes and searching frantically for her, the autowala suddenly shouted, “Yes, she is there; look she is still there,” he had spotted her.

I couldn’t believe it. I had a desire to see her, to know her and to enquire as what actually has happened with her. she looked a mystery which I want to unravel and unfold.

Had I not located her, I couldn’t have forgiven myself. As I saw her, my heart started aching and words started to fail me. I got down for the auto and started walking towards her. I was sure that she wasn’t mentally well, seemingly in her mid 20s, having deep burn scars on her chest and neck, evident of the trauma she has gone through. Her past certainly had a connection with her present.

I was shocked to see the young woman with sunken eyes and in a forlorn condition. She was in a very bad state. She was clad in tattered clothes; she had deep burn marks on her body which was beautiful and glowing. She must have been proud of her beauty in her bygone days. The curls of her unkempt hair encircled her face, tumbling haphazardly below her shoulders. She gazed at me and at the spur of the moment sat in the auto. She left me astonished by her sudden action. Half of my work was done. I thought I’ll have to struggle to convince her to board the auto. But that wasn’t the case.

Our next stop was Government Psychiatric Hospital, Jammu Amphalla. In the whole process, Sardarji, the autowala, was the saviour, who helped me in reaching hospital and doing whatever he could have.

It took us half an hour to reach to the Psychiatric Hospital, Amphalla. Meanwhile scores of thoughts raced through my mind. My fingers were punching scores of numbers on my mobile phone to sought help.

Unfortunately my phone was dying as I haven’t recharged it. Somehow I managed to call my friend Neeraj.

"Neeraj, I need your help. Come to the psychiatric hospital. We have an innocent soul to save,” I requested.

Neeraj was already there when we reached the hospital. The moment we reached, I called for doctor.

I went inside the hospital and asked a guard: “Is there any doctor? I have a patient with me.” He pointed towards a lady doctor and said, ``Madamji she will help you.”

I rushed to her and said, “Doctor I have a patient with me, please help me out. On my request she came and looked at the woman. After few moments she said, “Ma’am you need to talk to our Head of the Department (HOD), you see, we can’t examine her without the permission. You have to consult out HOD.” For a second, I couldn’t utter a single word. I only stared at her and asked for HOD’s office.

As soon as I and my friend Neeraj entered the office, the HOD thundered, “No! we can’t take her; it is a violation of law. You please go to the Police station. Let, police take action, and then only we can help you.” “We can admit only those who have family members or attendants with them. Or you will have to get the permission from the District Magistrate,” he continued.

I collapsed in the chair. I wasn’t able to put across my point of view. He wasn’t ready to listen. Neeraj try his hand but failed. The HOD wasn’t ready to listen.

I went out and try to contact all those who are known to me. Unfortunately none came forward. Meanwhile the SP Jammu City, SSP Jammu, SHO Pacca Danga and an Assistant Sub Inspector of Police station Pacca Danga were the officers who, ultimately, listen to me and came to my rescue.

After more than six hours of struggle, I finally succeeded in getting her admitted in the hospital, with police providing one lady police escort for one week.

Within days, she started recovering with bouts of her past memories flooding her. When I tried to enquire about her past, I was shocked to know that she spoke Kashmiri. Initially I thought she was from UP or Rajasthan as she spoke fluent Hindi and Urdu. Then suddenly she started speaking in Kashmiri, saying that she hails from Barbarshah in Srinagar. Within a short span of time we developed an unshakable bond. She stated calling me from hospital. We were in constant touch with each other. Then one day she rang me up and said: “Didi, I am Rukhsana. I am missing my four year old daughter Mavish. Could you please get her here?” After a hectic search I was finally successful in tracing her family in Srinagar. When her husband arrived in Jammu to take her home, there were tears in his eyes. Rukhsana just smiled and said: “O Sridevi I want to hug you.”

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