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

Exposing the Underbelly of Kashmir's Sordid Politics

Fayyaz wonders what happened to all the rage that took so many innocent lives. Unfortunately, selective condemnation of rape and murder has become bane of J&K politics

(Mr. Ahmed Ali Fayyaz, 48, was born in Bodina, Budgam, and received his primary and secondary education in Budgam and later at Amar Singh College, Srinagar. He completed his Master's degree in Kashmiri language and literature from the University of Kashmir in 1987. After working with Rashtriya Sahara and Kashmir Times in 1993-94, and later for 13 years as Srinagar Bureau Chief of Daily Excelsior, he is woking as Resident Editor/ Srinagar Bureau Chief of Jammu-based English daily Early Times ( since April 2009. He is also a filmmaker whose forte in audio-visual media is Kashmir's composite culture, heritage, ecology and social issues. Since February 2008, he has been regularly anchoring Take One Television's bi-weekly hard talk show "Face To Face With Ahmed Ali Fayyaz" which is watched by more than three million viewers in Srinagar, Jammu and other urban areas of Jammu & Kashmir.)


Hullabaloo over then widely perceived rape-cum-murder of two young woman, married Neelofar Jan and unmarried Asiya Jan, of Shopian in May last year was understandable as well as justifiable. Jostling for the limelight, female politicians of all hues had done whatever possible to undercut one another in the race of smudging the men in uniform. There were initially efforts to involve the Balpora-based formation of Rashtriya Rifles. Soon the campaign was downgraded to a unit of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). But once both proved to be the hard nuts, convenience zeroed in on Police. Even as two of the Police personnel, detained for their alleged involvement in destroying the evidences, were just a vegetarian target, counter-insurgency profile of then SP and Dy SP of Shopian made it a perfect case for a mass movement.

For weeks together, Kashmir was yet again in flames. Eight people got killed, and around 1,000 sustained injuries in clashes with Police and armed forces. Over a thousand vehicles, including 50 ambulances of different hospitals in the Valley, were damaged in stone pelting. There was shutdown after shutdown for four months. Damage caused to the Kashmir economy is estimated to be in hundreds of Crores of Rupees. Loss suffered by the student community remained incalculable. Why all that? Obviously because government officials, supposed to protect the honour and life of women, were perceived to be involved in the sinister act of outraging the modesty of the victims and doing away with them.

Within months, yet another government official---this time a doctor on whose evidence stood the "rape-cum-murder" of the Shopian duo---has been found to have outraged the chastity of a hapless woman at his clinic at the nearby district headquarters of Pulwama. There are few differences between the two. First one was fully based on surmise, speculation and perception. Post mortem reports of two teams of doctors made it an explosive case of gang rape and murder. Actors need not to be searched in such kind of incidents in the strife torn Valley. Second one has been purportedly shot on camera and the actor stands not only identified but also placed under suspension, arrested and jailed.

In case of Shopian, the victims were found to have died once. In case of Pulwama, the victim has been left to die a hundred times every day as long as she lives. The latest revelation is that she happens to be the mother of a girl doing first year of her MBBS and a 17-year-old son who is in class 11th. Shopian happened by night in a nullah and Pulwama in broad daylight during the holy month of Ramazan, at a property owned by a religious trust. Then, why an uproar on Shopian and a silence of convenience on Pulwama? The biggest poser of the cruel times in Kashmir: Is it the outfits of an actor that categorizes rapes in the Valley? Had the Pulwama actor been in Khaki, would the Kashmiri politicians have maintained this silence. The questions ahead: Are the Kashmiri female politicians concerned over the outrage of the modesty of hapless women by government officials or are they exploiting such incidents selectively to create space for themselves in the politics of deceit and camouflage that has had a bullish market from New Delhi to Islamabad?

PDP President, Mehbooba Mufti, and the pro-Pakistan Dukhataraan-e-Millat supremo, Asiya Andrabi, stole the show in Shopian as they left no stone unturned in berating the men in uniform. That was understandable for one was the queen of the mainstream opposition and another indisputably the highest profile female political activist in the separatist camp. But the ruling National Conference's MLA, Shameema Firdaus, appeared to outsmart all and sundry in the agitation when she led a procession of workers on Residency Road in Srinagar, chanting slogans against the Shopian rapists and killers and demanding exemplary punishment for them all.

Of late, Shameema Firdaus, has been appointed by Omar Abdullah government as the Chairperson of the State Women's Commission. While Asiya and her ilk in the separatist camp must have now realized the dangers of walking into the trap of pro-India politicians, PDP chief has never been sighted in Assembly since the day Pulwama surfaced on March 21. Ms Firdaus remained in attendance but did not utter a word of condemnation even when the independent MLA from Langet, Engineer Sheikh Abdul Rashid, raised his lonely voice on the floor of the House and demanded termination of the doctor's services.

Until yesterday, the big question was: How could the two women have drowned to death in "ankle deep waters" of Rambiara? After CBI exonerated all the four Policemen and filed a chargesheet against 13 persons, including six doctors---notably then deputy Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Ghulam Qadir Sofi, now booked for raping a woman at his clinic - a bigger question surfaced: How do the gang rapes in Valley take place while leaving hymen of an unmarried woman intact? Now a far bigger question: Is it all politics on rape or rape of politics - to spare the rapists in civvies and target only the rapists in uniform?

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