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.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Trout Fishing in Kashmir

Sajad looks into the 130-year history of Munawar Shah and Sons. Today 4 separate businesses run by the family carry the tradition of suppling angling equipment to fishing enthusiasts

Trout fishing hooks anglers to latest equipment in Kashmir

Sajad Kralyari (Rising Kashmir)

Srinagar: With a history spanning more than 130 years, Munawar Shah and Sons, the oldest fish angling equipment outlet at Lal Chowk is witnessing a high flow of foreign tourists this season.

Established in 1880 by Munawar Shah, a great angler of the yesteryears, the chain of fishing tackle shops along the Bund has hooked customers from Kashmir to United Kingdom. The business legacy of Munawar Shah is being carried by his four sons’ who despite have set up separate shops carry on the business under century old unique brand name.

The fishing sticks available at the shop are a treat for fishing enthusiasts. These equipments cost anywhere between Rs 1000 to Rs 10,000 with names of trout varieties like Jock Stott, Golden Loin, Peacock, March Brown Teal and Green, Coachman, Green Hollander and Watson’s Fancy. Pahalgam, Kokernag, Bandipora and Sind Valley are the favourite fishing places for anglers who go for day long trout fishing in gushing white waters.

The tantalizing thrill of trout fishing in wild waters keeps anglers wanting for new fishing sticks. “Our shop is famous among anglers and they are increasing,” said third generation member of the family, Hafizullah Qurashi now 58.

The turmoil during the last twenty years has increased the demand for fish angling equipment as people often took recourse to fishing during frequent crack downs and hartals. “Earlier, mostly houseboat owners would buy fishing tackle here as they would go with Englishmen for fishing. But crackdowns and hartals have worked like magic. Now, everyone enjoys fishing,” said Qurashi. “We have witnessed three-fold increase in our business.”

Fishing enthusiasts usually switch to trout fishing after making their debut in still waters of Dal Lake. “Those who used to fish in the Dal are now moving to lure trout in white waters. It has thrill and there are no fishes left in the Dal,” says Qurashi.

“We get customers from different parts of India and also other countries. They are usually referred by people who have already bought equipment from our shop,” he adds.

Mohammad Shafi Qurashi, 72, is a second generation member who is also happy with the family business.

He believes the increase in the raring of the trout by Fisheries Department has increased the love for trout fishing. “Earlier, the fishing was controlled and some selected class used to catch trout fishes. Now, the department provides license for fishing,” said Mohammad Shafi.

Syed Ahmad has come down from Islamabad only to buy a fishing rod, lures and net as he wants to set out for trout fishing occasionally. “I am fond of fishing since childhood and the love for fishing inspired me to move for angling. We are at it and tight schedule can’t prevent us,” says Ahmed while looking for a best stick in the shop.

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