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, July 30, 2010

Kashmir at Crossroads - 7

Sanjay has lived through the eye of the storm in the last two decades and knows that when things go downhill, something needs to give in

(Mr. Sanjay K. Tickoo, 47, was born and raised in Srinagar, and lives there. After graduating from Hindu High School in Sheetal Nath, Srinagar, he completed his B.Sc. degree from S. P. College, Srinagar. Currently self-employed, his hobbies are reading and traveling. He is among the 4,000 brave Pandit souls who have weathered the worst of the militancy in Kashmir, and is proud to call himself a citizen of Kashmir who stayed put in the valley. He is the President of the Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti - KPSS.)

A Call for Sanity

The situation in Kashmir has flared up again and Kashmiris feel dejected and isolated by the representatives whom they voted into power in 2008. They have noticed that whenever political disturbances take place in the Valley, political leaders and MLA’s put themselves in safe custody, leaving their voters to the mercy of God or in the hands of leaders who want the conflict to remain in focus on one pretext or other so that their shops continue to operate. Over the past eight months, it has also been observed that proactive statements from Kashmiri leaders who like to present themselves as the true representatives of GOI, must share responsibility for the present crisis that has led to the loss of 14 precious lives during the last fortnight.

The imposition of a curfew to tackle the situation in the Valley has virtually failed. The sentiments of people in general and particularly young people brought up during these turmoil-ridden years has remained the same: against the system, against political parties. The administration needs to be humane while dealing with youths. The local police (around 80,000 policemen of all ranks) ought to be the first to control mobs and the CRPF should only be seen on the streets as a last option. Concerned MLAs should be involved as soon as possible to pacify mobs along with senior citizens of the area. Local women folk can play a vital role in such efforts, but they must be accorded the fullest respect and honour by the administration and police whilst they engage in these tasks.

We have seen political parties both from the opposition or those in power, engage in the tired old practice of blaming one another. The state government should dealt firmly with misunderstandings that (on most ocassions) are created by vested interests in the bureaucracy, and certain police and intelligence officials at the helm of affairs who tend to their own interests and those of their political bosses. Politicians have also been less than honest in their utterance regarding various accords between the state of Kashmir with the Union of India at different points of time. They affirm or backtrack on such accords as per their political taste and convenience. Recently the National Conference and the PDP raised the issue of the Kashmir Resolution yet again and re-created confusion among ordinary people who have already been confused enough over the past 63 years. Kashmir’s political parties carry three flags in their pockets: one for India, one for Pakistan and one for Kashmir. Slogans vary from time to time, and refer to the Kashmir Resolution; autonomy; self-rule; human rights, etc.

College-going students have developed a particular bent of mind which sometimes triggers crises in the Valley. It is hard to blame students, who only reflect the confusion and despair caused by a failure of consensual discourse among their elders. Because of this, and on account of frequent human-rights disasters, politically minded students sometimes gravitate towards extremist slogans. School-going students are the worst-affected and till this day are being deprived their childhood. The official system as well as non-state actors are responsible for this sad impact upon innocent minds in Kashmir. Every political current project itself as society’s saviours, while lacking the sincerity to deal with the situation.

Over and above these dismaying trends, Pakistan has always tried to add fuel to it the flames through their representatives in Kashmir. The installation of a consensual coalition government is the need of the hour in J&K, who ought to take upon themselves to produce a joint draft resolution considering the aspiration of all stake holders in the state.

A joint parliamentarians team should visit the Valley immediately to talk to common citizens in the affected areas. They should engage the separatists’ camp, civil society, college and university level students, and minorities. This will help build peace and pave the way for a composite dialogue with all sections of the population. The Government of India should use its influence on political parties to form a joint crisis-management team and start peace and reconciliation measures on ground zero. Such measures should have the full-fledged backing of Parliament and should function without any interference from local officials in the system who have already done much harm. The Indian Government has placed agents within every institution in the state administration and political parties as well. Whatever be their intentions, these persons have tended to muddy the waters still further. Our political parties also maintain lobbies in the Home Ministry and the PMO – lobbies that function for narrow political gains and that end up creating confusion. There is no evidence of wise conduct during crises from any quarter.

The Union Government claims that around 500 militants remain active in the Valley. If this is so, the AFSPA could be replaced by another, milder law. This will help restore confidence among people, enable them to breathe easier as they go about their daily lives, and maybe even give them a ray of hope. This is a necessary step towards convincing them that the system is serious about settling outstanding political issues.

It should be remembered that the minority communities in the Valley, especially those Pandits who have remained here and stood with the majority community during the worst period of turmoil can play a vital role in facilitating a meaning political dialogue for peace in the state. As a non-migrant Kashmiri Pandit who has lived in downtown Srinagar during the turmoil-ridden years, a staunch Indian, but someone dejected by the gross malfunctioning of the central and provincial systems of governance, I have two major points to make. The first is that the minorities are safe and have very cordial relations with Kashmiri Muslims. The Amarnath Yatra is taking place smoothly and the rest of India need not worry about the yatris. The second is a humble request to the mainstream Indian media, that they be responsible, fair-minded and compassionate whilst covering Kashmir. Please drop the sensationalism and the attitude of reporting only with an eye to your TRP ratings.

The growing despondency, especially among youth, is further fueled by lack of jobs. Currently, for those in the urban areas there are mainly only two choices - government service or shop keeping. Both are "dead end" careers with very little opportunity for self-development and opportunity to join ranks of professionals outside of J&K. Kashmir needs private sector jobs, but private sector will not invest in Kashmir until J&K laws do not comply with standards for full transparency, accountability, protection of private investment and high degree of professionalism in attracting investors. That is not a business-as-usual attitude and both the ruling coalition and separatist have to accept changes in J&K laws to allow liberalized economy that will create new jobs for our idle youth.

The Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti is trying to fill the yawning political gap by interacting with different shades of opinion within and beyond Kashmir. We want nothing more (or less) than to build a consensus for the re-emergence of a plural society in the Valley and to facilitate political conversations among various schools of thought. We want the restration of sanity among all Kashmiris.

Kashmir at Crossroads - 6

Rekha notes the vacuum created by the withdrawal of gun has been filled by aggressive posturing in the post militancy phase

(Prof. Rekha Chowdhary, 55, was born in Jammu and has been a university teacher for the past 30 years. She is currently the Professor of Political Science, University of Jammu. During her distinguished teaching career, she was the visiting Fellow under a Ford Foundation grant at the Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford, in 1992-1993; winner of the Commonwealth Award availed at the University of Oxford, 1997-1998; and the Fulbright Fellow availed at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at the Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC, in 2005.)

The Separatist Politics: the New Phase

The situation as it has now evolved in Kashmir reflects a deep-rooted crisis emanating out of the acute trust-deficit vis-à-vis Centre on the one hand and breakdown of political communication with the ruling elite of the state, on the other. However, it also reflects the change within the Separatist political space. This change though visible for more than three years now has become very clearly discernable during the present unrest which has been going on for more than a month now.

The separatist politics has shifted itself from the stage of armed militancy to post-militancy. With militancy having declined substantially, the separatist politics is now defined by the popular protests. For quite some time one can see the rise of the politics of protest in Kashmir–with small and big protests taking place almost on weekly or monthly–mostly around the issues of human rights. Since 2007 there has been a recurrence of protests. Throughout the year 2007, there were numerous small and big demonstrations. The year had started with a massive response following the exhumation of body of Abdur Rahim Padroo and four other innocent villagers killed in fake encounters and it ended with the protest demonstrations in two separate incidents of killings– one in Magam in Budgam district and the other in Kukroosa in Kupwara district. The politics of protest took a massive shape in 2008 when the popular upsurge around the Amarnath land row took place in two phases. The whole summer of that year was consumed by this agitation. Likewise, the year 2009 was consumed by the agitation around the Shopian episode. The protest politics continued in 2010, this time around the issue of fake encounter of three civilians–and now the present stage of protest around the killing of teenagers.

The Amarnath agitation was the defining moment in this new politics of protest. It actually gave a new life to the separatist politics which was facing a sort of crisis at that time. Not only was it the decline of militancy but also the fragmentation of the separatist organisations which had affected the separatist politics. The separatists were further facing a crisis of relevance with the mainstream political parties, especially the PDP hijacking the separatist agenda and bringing it to the mainstream space. There was no issue of separatist politics which had remained exclusive to the separatists. All their issues were now being raised not only in the public rallies of the mainstream parties but also on the floor of the legislature.

The Amarnath agitation not only brought the separatists once more to the centre stage of Kashmir’s politics but also clearly defined its direction for the time to come. Separatist politics, since Amarnath agitation, is not directed from above but by the spontaneous popular response from below. It is not being sustained by the leadership and organisations occupying the separatist space, but by the issues which are rising at the ground level. It is the popular separatist sentiment, inflamed mostly by the violation of rights of people which is nourishing the separatist politics–rather than the long term agenda or vision of the separatist leaders.

This new phase of politics reflects a reversal of roles – between the leaders and the people. Rather than leading the politics, the leaders are following their ‘followers’. Once an issue is taken up by the people, the leaders and organisations become activated. The initiative however, does not lie as much with the leaders, as with people on the street. In the end, it is the ‘street’ which is defining the separatist politics.

Certainly, this reflects a crisis of separatist organisations and leaders. Since the multi-directional split of the Hurriyat Conference, there is fragmentation in the separatist politics. The problem of Kashmir’s separatist politics is not that it does not have leaders – the problem is that it has too many. The unity of purpose and single-minded direction of politics therefore remains a consistent problem. All efforts at the unity have failed. Added to this is the credibility crisis of the separatist leadership.

One can see that there is a vacuum. There is a strong separatist sentiment on the ground but this sentiment is not matched with a credible organisation and leadership. The vacuum is therefore filled in by the street politics. The street politics, in turn, is now controlled by the youth, many of whom are teenagers. In the absence of a vision and direction from above, it is the stone pelting by the teenagers which has become the most potent symbol of resistance.

The present stage in the separatist politics is being defined as one of the most aggressive stage with separatist sentiment being reinforced and intensified; new slogans being coined (like Go India, go back) and becoming popular and; a new kind of militancy being witnessed with ‘boys’ refusing to listen to any suggestion to mallow down their responses (and even daring Syed Salahudin not to intervene). However, one cannot say that this is a gratifying situation for politics of Kashmir in general and the separatist politics in particular. It raises a number of questions? To what extent this politics which is living from one issue to another can be sustained? and what direction will it take? However the most important question is about the role of the teenagers at present. Is it fair to put all the burden of separatist politics on the shoulders of the teenagers? And at what cost?

Kashmir at Crossroads - 5

Mehmood sees freedom as the ultimate salvation requiring Kashmiris first to seek enlightenment

(Mr. Mehmood-ur-Rashid, 37, was born in Srinagar. He graduated from the Amar Singh College, Srinagar. He has been active in journalism for over ten years, and currently works at the Greater Kashmir, having worked in the past at the Rising Kashmir as the Features Editor. The columnist is presently the GK Magazine Editor.)

Freedom of Kashmir

Ashfaq Ahmed is one of the popular names in the modern Urdu literature. He produced his own style of writing which was an attempt to get closer to the reader, as if the two were talking. He was also a broadcaster whose programmers were intimate, lively, and with a tinge of spirituality. Not a spirituality of any order, but a common man’s spirituality; one that is found in small things, like saying a thank-you to someone who helped. On his TV forum Zavia he would deliberate on matters of life, philosophy, culture, politics and history, in the style of storytelling; in ways understandable to a man on the street. He was a common man’s uncommon teacher.

But why talk Ashfaq in this column. The precise reason is a chapter in his book Zavia. The book is actually a textual form of his talk show Zavia. The chapter is – Sabr, Disiplin, Aur Aazad-e-Kashmir. Translate it and it would become – Patience, Discipline and the Freedom of Kashmir.

But first about Zavia. Probably it would be a place and a condition where people pour their heart out and get relieved. In the Muslim Sufi tradition the term has come from North Africa. In the countries like Tunisia and Algeria these were the places where Sufis would encamp and provide a shelter for common people. They would relax, have some food and pour their hearts out. It was a sort of hospice where more than bodies, minds would relax; may be akin to a place like coffee house, but with a difference that the ambience would be overwhelmingly spiritual. Zavia would engender a condition that had a humanizing impact, and the source of that condition would be the person, who one may call a Sufi. In fact the word Teacher would be more accurate. These teachers would talk in simple language, about little matters, and towards modest ends. But in the end bring about a huge change in an individual. It was the modesty of purpose and method that would make everyone feel home in those zavias. There was no noise but everyone could feel the music of change.

The name Zavia formed the texture of the program that Ashfaq did on Television. He would talk about a casual thing about his family and friends, about his routine, about something that he saw in the market, or office, and then narrate some experience of a mystic or an event of history; this Ashfaq did in a language that was not at all burdened with terminology or verbosity. It was like talking on a railway platform, or may be over a cup of tea with a friend. And this would leave everyone with an impact.

One day he started off his program by telling about his granddaughter who once was highly feverish. How he stationed her on his chest for a long time while sitting on a chair with a slanting back. The little baby burning with fever was jammed to his chest like a small frog. It was absolutely painful for the loving grandpa. But what could he do. The night passed and the baby was still burning. Then the second; nothing helped. Then it struck Ashfaq’s mind that may be God was teaching us a lesson; the lesson of patience.

Patience, Ashfaq thought, teaches us discipline. It makes us pass through a rigor only to discipline us. Immediately the narration turns towards Pakistan. It’s lagging behind, because its people are not disciplined. And here Ashfaq relates his meeting with a Canadian radio broadcaster who had accepted Islam. ‘How do you see Islam’, Ashfaq promptly asks. The Canadian broadcaster replies, ‘the future of the world is Islam.’ Ashfaq failed to find any logic in this assertion. The Canadian broadcaster now went on to explain. “I don’t know why you have accepted this religion. I believe when some thousand Americans, some hundred Canadians and may be a handful of Scandinavian’s are in the fold of Islam, it will prevail.’ Ashfaq was dumbstruck, ‘but we are already in billions!’ ‘But you aren’t disciplined,’ the Canadian broadcaster clinched it all.

Ashfaq moves ahead. ‘Like that little granddaughter of mine God had given me this country, and like that little baby burning with fever Kashmir is jammed to my chest. It is writhing in pain, not only now but from many decades.’ But why is Kashmir not recovering, like that little baby did finally. This because, Ashfaq believes, we don’t love Kashmir like our child. We don’t experience the pain, like a grandfather does over seeing his granddaughter burning with fever. Only if people pool their love for Kashmir, praying for this land in some corner of a room, all in solitude, may be one day the bell rings in every home – Kashmir is free.

Would people in the neighborhood of sovereignties stop for a while in Ashfaq’s Zavia, and instead of discussing the politics of Kashmir with penetrating analysis pray for it in most simple ways. Shower some love on its little daughters and sons who are jammed to the bosoms of their parents like that granddaughter of Ashfaq’s- like a little frog.

And would Kashmiris learn the lessons of patience and discipline themselves in the Zavia. We have a formidable tradition of spirituality. Isn’t this the time to draw from that. No nation can afford to destroy its values in the name of politics. This is the time when people need Teachers, not politicians. People need a sensible guidance and not a provocative invocation. That is the way to prevail. That is the way to go. May be the day dawns when news comes home – Kashmir is free.

Kashmir at Crossroads - 4

Javaid sees no light yet at the end of tunnel

(Mr. Javaid Malik, 37, was born in Srinagar. He did his schooling from the Burn Hall High School, and completed his 11th and 12th grades from the Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. After his graduation from the Madras University, he completed his Master's degree in Mass Communication from the Manipal University. Javaid has worked for various Srinagar based English language dailies since 2001. He joined the Greater Kashmir staff in 2005, and is now the Associate Editor.)


Kashmir has been on the boil for the past six weeks. Kashmiris have been witnessing killings, strikes and curfews and there seems to be no end to it. It seems this time Kashmiris have decided that it is now or never for them. The common perception that seems to prevail among the masses is that let their fate be decided once for all. They are ready to go to any extent for achieving Azadi.

The determination and the courage shown by the people has once again proven that the sentiment of freedom is very much alive and they have not given up. Recent protests have punctured the tall claims of New Delhi that huge participation of people in the 2008 assembly elections had made the separatists irrelevant and they had endorsed democracy. The voter turn out in 2008 had made the leaders in New Delhi complacent and they were feeling that there was no need to address the Kashmir issue. New Delhi forgot that mainstream politicians had sought votes for addressing day to day problems and they had de-linked the resolution of the Kashmir issue from elections.

Present crisis is the outcome of New Delhi ignoring the ground realities. It seems some people sitting there had started believing that Kashmiris have lost the battle and they would never raise their head again. The younger generation taking over the Kashmir movement and highlighting the plight of Kashmiris through stones has proved all big think tanks in New Delhi wrong. There is no doubt about the fact that Kashmiris have been at the receiving end since the day youth with stones have been leading from the front. These unarmed youth have taken bullets on their chests. The stones they pelt have not killed a single policeman or a paramilitary CRPF trooper despite that 17 youth in the age group of 13 to 22 haven fallen to bullets which were fired in retaliation in the past 6-weeks.

All of us respect sacrifices rendered by our youth. Their untimely deaths have shocked us and all of us feel the pain of their families. Kashmiris have stood united in grief and we giving up our daily chores is enough to prove that we cannot tolerate killings anymore.

Life in the Kashmir Valley has come to a grinding halt and there seems to be no end to the present turmoil. No one seems to be interested in resuming the normal life as situation continues to be abnormal. Everyone is aware about the fact that Kashmiris are facing a tremendous loss in every field. Students and businessmen have been the worst hit, despite that people are putting up a brave face. Hats off to them. They have proved that their children, who are being killed ruthlessly, are more important than the economic packages that New Delhi announces for Kashmiris every now and then. Even the Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, is on record saying: “People are not protesting against my government. Their anger is directed towards New Delhi.”

Questions looming large over the minds of people are: What next? Are continuous shutdowns a way towards achieving Azadi? Will the resilience and the determination shown by them make New Delhi change its attitude towards Kashmir and the Kashmiris?

It is not possible for anyone to answer these questions at this point of time. All these questions would be answered in coming days. The wait and watch policy adopted by the government indicates that it wants people to get tired and resume normal life on their own. It seems that state has decided that there won’t be any compromise. Those who are spearheading the ongoing “Quit Kashmir” movement also don’t seem to be in any mood of giving up. They are riding high on a popular wave and are calling the shots. People are religiously following the weekly calendar announced by the second rung leaders of Hurriyat Conference (G). What will be the outcome of the present agitation remains to be seen. But the one thing is for sure that Kashmiris have proved a point that Kashmir issue is not a border dispute between India and Pakistan which both these nations could resolve among themselves.

People of Kashmir have always expressed solidarity with the Muslims in any part of the world and have always raised their voice for them. On the contrary Islamic countries seem to be least bothered about what Kashmiris are undergoing none of the countries till date have issued any statement nor have the people of any of these countries staged a protest to disapprove the repression Kashmiris are facing. Even the Indian civil society has chosen to remain tightlipped over the present crisis in the Valley.

New Delhi based channels seem to have only one agenda i.e. whatever is happening in Kashmir is being sponsored by Lashkar-e-Toiba and Pakistan. Only a few channels have dared to present the true picture. To ensure that Indian people remain unaware about the ground situation in Kashmir authorities just a few weeks before had filed an FIR against the staff members of one such news channel. Since that day most of these channels are airing only that news which suits their national interest. An anchor of one such news channel, who recently bagged the award for being the best broadcaster in India, seems to be hell bent upon proving it to his nation that Kashmiris are ruthless people who beat gun wielding police and CRPF men mercilessly. He justifies all the actions of troops. His only assignment seems that he should prove that Kashmiris holding stones are “terrorists” and use of force against them is justified. The Chairman of the Peoples Conference, Sajad Gani Lone, who was one of the participants in the show hosted by NDTV had said: “I don’t support stone pelting but after watching your show I feel like taking up a stone and hurling it at authorities. Please stop demonizing our people.”

The overall situation in the Kashmir Valley is grim many areas are facing shortage of essential commodities and life saving drugs. No bank transactions are taking place nor is money being rotated. Authorities recently seized the relief material which was meant to be distributed in the urban areas. This shows that government wants to give no relaxation. It wants people to breakdown and call off the present agitation.

Those who are heading the “Quit Kashmir” movement need to bear all these things in mind and give direction to the ongoing movement. If present agitation fails it would have far reaching consequences as common Kashmiris have put everything on stake and they cannot afford another failure. This movement needs to sustain.

Recently the Chairman of United Jihad Council and Supreme Commander of Hizbul-Mujahideen had said that indefinite strike is no solution. “People should not lose hope neither should they get tired. Pro-freedom leaders need to bear all these things in mind,” Salahuddin had said.

Anyway it is easy to give statements and write articles. The fact is that those who are leading from the front are aware about the situation and they are the best judges to decide future course of action. If they want indefinite strike to continue then they would have strong reasons for it, but they should make these reasons public so that people do remain aware about where the present movement is heading towards. They need to bear one thing in mind that people of Kashmir are following them blindly. No one in Kashmir can afford the present movement to fail. To ensure that Kashmiris achieve their goal a long term strategy has to be worked out and shortcuts have to be avoided. All of us need to bear it in my mind that Kashmir is a 60-year old issue and it cannot be resolved in 60-days.

Kashmir at Crossroads - 3

Mirza Ashraf feels that for the situation to cool off, we need to look beyond the stated positions. But will partisan politics deliver?

(Dr. Mirza Ashraf Beg, 70, was born in Sarnal, Anantnag. He did his primary schooling at the Primary Hanfia School in Anantnag and completed his F. Sc. from the Government Degree College in Anantnag. He completed his medical degree (MBBS) from the Government Medical College Srinagar, University of Kashmir, in 1967, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Pathology from the Government Medical College Jammu, University of Jammu, in 1981. He served as the Medical Director of the Civil Hospital, Pahalgam, until 1983 and subsequently held senior administrative positions in the health service system of Saudi Arabia, including participation in a joint program with the Johns Hopkins University and the University of South Florida for a United Nations project related to environmental and ecological impact of the 1991 Gulf War. He is an Executive Member of the Jammu and Kashmir Red Cross (nominated by the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir), Member of General Medical Council, Jammu and Kashmir, Medical Council of India, Saudi Medical Council, and General Medical Council, London. He is proficient in Kashmiri, Urdu, Hindi, English, Arabic.)

Kashmir-The Dangerous Dimensions

Despite being a medico I was destined to observe the multiple dimensions of Kashmir problem from my childhood and I grew up under the shadows of, ‘Hum Kiya Chahtay - Aazadi.’

To understand the dimensions of Kashmir problem we need to have a bird's eye view of the political history of J&K state retrospectively. A spectrum of intruders like Sikhs,Pathans, Mughals and Dogras ruled the state prior to the present so called democratic administration. Since the first four rulers were alien hence Hum Kiya Chahtay - Aazadi was a natural outburst of the inner feelings of subjugated people of the Himalyan state. If we dig a bit deeper and trace the history of freedom struggle in the state we can see hardly a few dozens have been martyred from the Sikh rule to Dogra period while as our period of democracy has filled innumerable graveyards besides thousands are missing. What a legacy of democracy and what a glamour of being a free nation!

Before addressing the Kashmir issue we need to understand different aspects of the problem and try to find out as to why we are locked up in this parable. Our present tragedies date back to the painful partition of India in 1947. UN resolutions, Commitments from Indo-Pak leaders besides our innocence and ignorance played its role in making the Kashmir issue complicated with the passage of time. Many times we were sold and resold and the sale deeds will never come to surface. Some sold us for monitory gains from across the cease fire line while as others bargained with clandestine forces beyond Lakhinpore. Despite that ‘Hum Kiya Chahtay - Aazadi' reverberates with full force even today and seems to continue till a lasting solution—a solution that satisfies the majority of the people of J&K is thought off.

An unprejudiced mind can easily find that the most important outcome of the ongoing turmoil is that both mainstream as well as pro-freedom political organisations working in the state have realised that Kashmir issue needs a logical solution. The same feelings are expressed by a common Kashmiri weather he is a migrant or the one who has suffered getting caught between the guns trying to protect his identity.

Having said that we need to analyse how our political organisations are looking at Kashmir issue and how they would like to take it to a logical end. There is no doubt every one realises that the state needs developments. The present uncertainty where our working days are squeezed by Hartals, government curfews and civil curfews is eating on the marrows of the common man-- thus developments remain a distant dream. Apparently people in power have always looked on these issues through their narrow prism and have always expected to silence the pent-up emotions of the masses by applying a brute force. History has proved them wrong and my argument is supported by the recent painful developments in Srinagar, Sopore,Islamabad, Varmul and Kishtawar where school going children and cricket kids were gunned down dragging them out of their homes apparently for their love for the ‘game’. Government has always come up with its usual solution of setting up an enquiry commission. As if people have any faith in these commissions?

Coming back to our topic, ‘The dangerous dimensions of Kashmir issue,’ Long ago National Conference the major political organisation that has its roots in the freedom struggle of the state argued in favour of Kashmir accord and the accord is documented. One wonders as to why it is getting shy to implement the accord as a confidence building measure on way to an acceptable logical future disposal of the long pending Kashmir problem. The organisation was let down by a no confidence motion against its government shortly after it regained power in 1974. There after this historical political force continued to remain duped and bewildered about its role as a peoples movement and fell in a whirlpool for a chase to seek power at any cost.

Despite the fact the functionaries of the state branch of Indian National Congress too ask for a political solution to the Kashmir problem it seems that such utterances in view of the fact that their parent organisation in New Delhi considers Kashmir issue a closed chapter are just a glib talk to hoodwink the gullible. Similarly its sibling the PDP too is asking for a permanent solution to the miseries of the state. Ironically at times it sees the solution in dilution of AFSPA and at times in the return of the armed forces to the barracks. Unfortunately it forgets to realize armed forces were in the barracks till 1989 when there was no AFSPA. All these draconian laws came in to force with armed forces out of the barracks because we had not recognised the dangerous dimensions of Kashmir problem.

The turmoil or the armed rebellion of 1989 gave birth to a conglomerate of a new leadership in J&K that assumed the nomenclature of Hurriyat Conference and people pinned all hopes on this god sent messiah.

Unfortunately with the passage of time the organsation broke in to its original fragments thus losing its glamour,force and purpose. Since the organisation was born out of the barrel of the gun it could not sustain itself when peace started to return. Hence it could not harvest the benefits of the armed rebellion giving a chance to New Delhi to harp the tune that they played after Kashmir accord with Shiekh Sahib such as, ‘the clock can not move anticlockwise thus retreating from sky is the limit.’

Having said that during these twenty years of turmoil in the state India and Pakistan both have become nuclear powers adding disastrous dimensions to Kashmir issue. It is a historical fact that Kargil war would have kindled the nuclear flash point—and yes we can’t bank always on US for intervention. Besides that we have also witnessed that all sorts of political arrangements were repeatedly tried that failed miserably. National conference government was replaced by a couple of tenures of governor's rule and then a combination of PDP and Congress that succumbed to the mishandling of Amarnath and Hum Kiya Chahtay - Aazadi was its natural out come on the road to Muzafarabad. Elections resulted in a unique NC-Congress combination that seems awaiting for another turmoil. In the mean time may it be a ‘Mona Lisa’ episode in Anantnag or a bureaucratic ‘sex scandal’ in Srinagar the anger gets vent through Hum Kiya Chahtay - Aazadi. Thus wisdom warrants Indian political leadership to cool down, unload their guns and listen to the advice of its military brass that is asking for a political solution and similarly Pakistan needs to have its introspection and an eye on changing global scenario lest the subcontinent gets unwittingly caught up in a nuclear disaster. At the same our political leadership need to sit on a round table, be realistic and look beyond its nose for the broader interests of the state.

Kashmir at Crossroads - 2

Rumana wonders how long the society will be imprisoned by separatist-led hartals and civil authority-led curfews

Shutdowns - To What End?


A teenager lost his life, we felt sad, another succumbed to his wounds, we lost our sleep – three more were mercilessly murdered, our hearts bled. One death may be a mistake, two a blunder and three at a time including that of a nine year old is a massacre. We reacted. We took to streets, demonstrated our anger, displayed our disgust and protested everywhere – on the streets, on the social networking sites, in schools and colleges – in Delhi and Pune.

Our protests went loud, but our masters in Delhi and Srinagar were unmoved, the killings continued, the sufferings persisted and sermons to discipline us were issued from Centre and State – nothing great happened, the spiral became a circle and continued to gulp us viciously.

We are told we live in a democratic set up – so, protest should come naturally to us. No reminders are needed for us to protest, we protest as and when the situation demands. They come about spontaneously, the methodology may be crude, but the anger is genuine. We settle after an outburst or a series of outbursts and try living a life – though miserably! Life we have to live, the uncertainty makes it more challenging, the threat makes it more practical. But our lives are not our own, we are gagged by curfews and chained by “Hartals”. Though curfew is the official torture and is a tool to break our spirits, render us helpless, disable our potential and kill our intellect, hunger and poverty being the add on burdens that fall on us as a consequence. If curfew is doing all this to us, do we need another demon to swallow us?

We protested and we were punished. But why are we interested to punish ourselves more? Why do we add the mite of “HARTAL” to our already flea bitten bodies? No shops, no offices, no vehicles on the roads, no schools and no colleges. If hospitals limp through this turmoil – shut them too. A roadside vendor – should sleep at home, a hawker should take some rest – little do we realize that hunger causes insomnia – sleep is for those whose earnings are fat, anxious minds with large families and meager earnings hardly sleep! Our children do not go to schools – most of them have fun with TV and computer. How long do we deprive them of their education? As Muslims should we have any confusion about the importance of education? Do we need to remind ourselves that Prophet’s journey into Prophethood started with ‘Iqra’. Young college going minds too are gathering dust – why do we stun their intellectual development? And about the poor miserable people who earn during the day for a two square meal – I did not see any help from any corner reaching them. What have we thought about them?

Makers of our time tables – have not discussed their short term and long term plans with the people. Have they put any demands before the people in power? How long will the shutdown remain? Will it continue till the killers of teenagers are brought to book, will it continue till human rights violations are stopped, will it continue till AFSPA is revoked or will it continue till ‘Kashmir issue’ is resolved? It is the time to ask, will a shutdown alter things for us? We would go ahead with it if it were to solve a sixty year complex issue like Kashmir, practically speaking that hardly seems to be on the cards. So, why a shutdown?

If we endorse or enforce ‘‘Hartal’’ to impress the governments in J&K and Delhi – then we are foolishly mistaken. As a national newspaper columnist puts it, our masters ‘live in Delhi and reside in Kashmir’. People at the helm are comfortable in Pahalgam and Gulmarg, some are busy buying villas in Dubai. For whom are we shutting down? For whom are we making our people starve and suffer? We shutdown and paralyze ourselves in homes. Does anybody take a notice, is anybody moved?

When “Hartals” become a norm and “Curfews” a routine – what sets in is stagnation, leading to putrification ultimately breeding worms of poverty and misery which engulf us all over. When a small child, slightly bigger than my own stops me, argues with me and asks me why I should go to a hospital – I am rendered speechless. What do I tell him, how do I explain my work to him – what do I do? Does this child know why he wants a “Hartal”?

It is true, when a young life is lost every day and authorities are unapologetic – darkness overshadows us, anger conquers the senses, routine seems a burden and shutdown a solace. Our tales of misery will make rocks weep! Protest in such a situation is the only tool in our hands. But can’t we alter our strategy? If shutdown is the remedy, can’t a day’s shut down every week do? If we need to protest every day can’t one hour a day suffice? Why do we actually need a continuous shutdown to display our anger?

I have affection for that “angry young man” displaying his anger on the streets of Downtown. He is the one who will go an extra mile to help you, he is the one who will leave his seat for you in the bus. Smart looks, anger in eyes and compassion in heart – let us respect his blood. If our own children are glued to our own chests, why is his blood cheap? If a protest is needed, let a leader lead it! That will at least ensure discipline and prevent loss of life! What about the poets and intellectuals, where are they?

Today, I gather courage to protest – against the continuous imprisonment I am in – the curfew shuts me on one day and “Hartal” imprisons me the other day. I may not be able to stop authorities from imposing the curfew, it is beyond me…But, I need freedom – freedom to move about, freedom to work, freedom to earn and my children need freedom to learn. We are not animals but quality human beings, educated and intelligent and our only fault is that we live in a disputed territory. Set us free – O you at the helm!

Kashmir at Crossroads - 1

An editorial in the Kashmir Images unravels what the struggle in Kashmir is not about

‘Freedom first…’

Historically speaking, economics, a science inherently smitten with the desire to quantify, has often been too narrow in its approach to development. An empirical science, as it has evolved, economic gurus have always had a knack for prioritizing material needs of humankind over the equally pressing emotional and psychological needs. Ironically while discussing what motivates economic growth, which usually entails the use of elaborate equations and complex graphs; when means are suggested towards the end of sustaining economic progress, little heed is paid to the intricate interdependence of various needs and the causal factors that are the major stumbling blocks in the way to securing the general welfare of the population. Understandably then, most of what is written about economic problems and development fails to strike a humanistic chord. Needless to say the mammoth economic figures that are cited every now and then by the governments in Srinagar and Delhi as being pumped in Kashmir to cure its ills, have failed to bring about any change in the situation on ground here.

It is here in this uncanny world of hard-fact and thick-skinned economic terms, theories, concepts and policies that economists like Amartya Sen come in with a new brand of softer, gentler, humane and wise economics emphasizing the importance of social by placing the well-being of humans at the center-stage of economic policy so that it is seen as both the end and the means for development, not simply a side-effect. By linking the economic progress and development with the political freedoms enjoyed by the people, this brand of economics suggests that political freedoms are and truly so, subservient to the economic well-being of the population. Indeed the very concept that ‘freedom promotes development’ is a pleasant depart from the conventional wisdom that prioritizes economic growth over political enfranchisement.

Development should be seen as a process of expanding freedoms. "If freedom is what development advances, then there is a major argument for concentrating on that overarching objective, rather than on some particular means, or some chosen list of instruments," suggests Sen. To achieve development, therefore requires the removal of poverty, tyranny, lack of economic opportunities, social deprivation, neglect of public services, and the machinery of repression. Unfortunately even when the “freedom” has been much-publicized slogan in Kashmir during the past couple of decades, not even those selling their political merchandize in its wraps have ever bothered to talk about poverty, social and economic opportunities or the issues of public services and utilities. Instead everything has been made secondary to the politics so much so that even the economic hardships of the day-to-day life fail to evoke a stir anywhere. Had it not been so, then of course the developments of past over a month, which have more-or-less halted the normal life processes in Kashmir would not have happened in the first place.

Both separatists as well as mainstream political leaders cut a very sorry figure on this count as neither has displayed any understanding of and sincerity toward peoples’ welfare.

Understandably, ‘freedom’ has been relegated to a hollow slogan meant for political rhetoric only with all the major players in the Kashmir’s political amphitheatre just paying a token lip-service to it. While the political elite has ensured every kind of freedom for themselves and their ilk, common masses on the other hand have been deprived of whatever little bit of freedoms they enjoyed - political as well as economic!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Gender Inequality

Roshan Ara raises health and safety issues related to violence against women

(Ms. Roshan Ara, 45, was born in Warihama, in Budgam district. She attended the Government High School Aripanthan, and the Government Higher Secondary School Beeru. She graduated from the Government Womens College (GWC) Srinagar, University of Kashmir, and the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi. Ms. Roshan Ara has degrees in B.Com, M.Com, M.A. Economics, B.Ed, M.Phil, Diploma in Women's Empowerment and Development, and Ph.D. work underway titled 'Managing Work and Family Roles: A Study of White Collar Working Women in Kashmir.' She is presently a Lecturer in Commerce, Department of School Education, Government of Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar. During leisure time she enjoys reading newspapers & journals, staying engaged on Women's Issues, and writing articles for newspapers & journals.)


Violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men. It is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men. Violence against women manifests itself as rape, molestation, sati, dowry deaths, kidnapping and abduction, domestic violence, sexual harassment, eve-teasing and other forms of murder like female infanticide etc. Reporting of such crimes is invisible because of social stigma and lack of evidence etc. Women are victims of scientific advancement which has added to their miseries in various forms. Women are more prone to HIV aids and other sexual diseases than men. Women are victimised on the basis of race, ethnic identity, class and caste. All wars and armed conflicts lead to violation of women’s rights. In order to take revenge from their enemies men have used women as a prey. They assault them sexually and thus, get a feeling of superiority. Women who lose their husbands and sons are snatched from their earning hands. They feel guilty when they blame themselves for this sort of crisis.

Everyday women are physically tormented, humiliated, threatened, sexually abused and even murdered by their partners or by their family members. But often we don’t hear about this violence because women being victims of violence feel ashamed, lonesome and afraid to speak out. Women are subjected to violence at every stage of their lives in and outside their homes and even in their mothers’ wombs. Violence against women evolves from her inferior status in a patriarchal society. The traditional beliefs and myths resist women to talk about the abuses they face within and outside their family.

Revealing the lifespan of a woman highlights that violence affects her throughout her life and even before her birth in the form of sex selection tests.

The dilemma is that the society does no longer understand the problem of violence and doesn’t feel its pain. Instead the society blames women for it and considers it as their destiny. Once we understand and declare it as ‘violence’ we will be ready to change and solve this problem. No individual has the right to suppress the power of another individual as it is a violation of human rights. No religion allows its believers to add to the miseries of women but to extend them their love and care. By being violent with a biologically weak person, a man is able to find a convenient release for his pent-up-frustrations. It offers him a quick end to a disagreement without having to talk about the problem. Whenever a man uses violence, he feels he wins and gets his way. He’s actually not aware of the duties of a husband towards his wife. He is not aware of the fact that he owes his existence to women in many forms. As a son he depends on the mother, as a brother on his sister and as a husband on his wife. If men consider women as their property, then it is their moral duty to nurture them righteously.

In the 19th century in the West, men were legally entitled to beat their wives if they misbehaved. Those men were given the status of being men in real sense in that society. Violence hits women in every nook and corner of the world. It crosses all borders, religions, races and caste distinctions.

Worldwide, 1.5 lakh women become the victims of various crimes annually. Further an estimated 5 crore women face physical and psychological violence every year throughout the world. Out of 10 refugees and displaced persons, 8 are women and children. Worldwide annually 2 million girls are introduced into commercial sex market. Globalisation has added to the sufferings of women. At least 60 million girls who would otherwise be expected to be alive are missing in Asia as a result of sex selection abortions. It is a bitter truth that medical professionals are active members of this crime.

1 out of 4 girls is sexually abused before attaining the age of 14 and 1 out of 6 girls doesn’t live to see her 15th birthday. Three lakh girls die every year throughout the world and 50% of girls in the age group of 5-9 years are illiterate. No doubt PNDT Act 1994 prevents sex selection tests but still people illegally commit this crime. By killing female foetus, we are not only killing one girl but it is the murder of womanhood. The need of the hour is to eliminate ‘discrimination’ and not ‘women’. Woman is sold like a hot cake through international borders. Rape and sexual harassment are a constant threat to all women folk. Women’s trafficking has been a huge source of earning for the traffickers. The profits gained from trafficking of women exceed 8 billion dollars annually which is comparable to lucrative trade in guns and drugs. Women are easily caught in the traps of traffickers in the hope of getting a better job and a better life. The indecent representation of women’s body is another form of commercial violence of women. For selling petty articles, businessmen use the body of women as an attraction for the customers. Thus violence takes a devastating toll on the lives of women, on their families and on the society as a whole.

Another form of modern violence against women has come to fore which is termed as ‘surrogate motherhood’. In this type of violence mother’s womb is hired for fertility purposes for meagre sums of money. This has led to fertility tourism where so many commercial fertility clinics are run and the reproductive rights of younger women are violated. Poor and ignorant women are forced to put their lives at risk and it leads to a form of commodifying and dismembering the female body. Domestic violence is another form of violence which is common throughout the world. It is a silent killer which has claimed the lives of so many women and goes unreported and un-checked.

The violence against women should be recognised as a public health concern. A nation can prosper and flourish only to the extent that it is composed of healthy and joyous families. As family is the foundation of all the larger social structures, the basic social cell on which all other agencies depend for their very existence and first formation of their members. A woman not only transmits the foundation of culture to her child but she is the keeper of tradition in society, the custodian of morals and all good manners.

Women are the nurturers and the trainers of their whole human race since their infancy. If she is defective and deficient, her child will be deficient and defective. Therefore, women’s imperfection implies a condition of imperfection in all mankind. The children of such parents who live in violent atmospheres become volatile and learn to behave the same way. Boys in these families copy their father’s aggressive behaviour. They start to tease girls, catch hold of them and beat them and harass them because they imbibe these qualities from their fathers. On the contrary, girls of these families show destructive behaviour, become meek, timid and submissive. Children of these families become victims of so many diseases and psychological problems. They do not eat, sleep or grow well as compared to the children of happier families.

Being parents we should try to avoid all violent and aggressive situations. We should raise our children to lead non-violent lives and teach them to work for finding peaceful solutions for their problems. Violence free life will help women to develop a good health and self-esteem. A Woman with good self esteem can make a valuable contribution to her family and community. She will be able to cope up with her day-to-day problems and better able to work for changes that can improve her life and society. Self-esteem is an important part of good mental health. It begins to develop in childhood.

Thus, the amount of self-esteem a girl develops depends on how she is treated by the important people in her life – her parents, her brothers, her teachers, her neighbours and the spiritual guides.

What this violence does to women is hardly visible and measurable. Due to violence, women lack a sense of worth, self confidence and mental health.Violence leads them to anxiety and depression and sleeping and eating disorders. Violence leads to psychological disturbance and to physical disorders and even to death. A large percentage of violence in India is a dowry related one. Violence is a major cause of physical injuries to women.

Women face psychological violence, emotional violence and economic violence wherein emotional violence is far more damaging than physical one as this violence erodes her self esteem. When an abusive relationship becomes violent, it is much harder for a woman to live. A woman due to violence is not only adversely affected but it affects her children and in turn the whole society. Violence during pregnancy leads women to premature deliveries and even to death. Physical abuse leads women to emotional disorders. Thus women facing violence, in the absence of any kind of support at their family and communities level, feel helpless and experience threat of death due to repeated violence. Violence against women acts as a big hurdle in their empowerment. Women who are victims of violence generally need counseling to deal with mental and emotional trauma. Sexual abuse of women leads them to emotional and behavioural damage and sometimes it can be fatal. Thus, to improve their self-esteem and gain their confidence they need special counseling. All available socio-economic measures and existing laws have not been sufficient to provide relief to a large majority of women. Women always get unfair and unequal treatment.

The psyche of men has to change and they need to be very careful and dutiful in dealing with their women in any role. Violence needs to be totally eradicated from our plagued society and measures have to be taken to make it a serene one. Let us all join our hands and pledge to bring about the radical changes in our society. A Woman must herself exert for attaining great perfection to be man’s equal in the otherwise unequal world.

The Long Road to Women's Emancipation

J&K Government discriminates against women residents of backward areas (RBA)

Another Assault on Women's Rights in J&K

Jammu: What can be termed as a sheer discrimination against the women the state Government has deprived the women being married in backward rural pockets of the state of RBA certificates till 15 years of their marriage.

Such a decision of the Government has falsified its all claims regarding empowerment of women. The decision is not only discriminative but gender bias as well and various women organizations in the state are up in arms against the move. These organizations while blaming the Government of gender discrimination and biased towards one male males has warned agitation in case the order in this regard is not withdrawn immediately.

Terming it a total injustice and violation of their rights the women organisations challenge the rationality of the Government order in this regard saying that State Government has always adopted double standards whenever the question of equality of rights between men and women came to fore.

The women organisations have decided to mobilize the public opinion in this regard through the state by launching a door to door campaign against the decision and apprise the women about their rights.

The State Government in its notification issued vide Government order No GAD (adm) 18/2006-I dated 27-02-2006 has directed the concerned departments that the female candidates who do not possess the eligibility in terms of rule 2 of J&K Reservation Rules 2005 including the one relating to 15years actual residence in the Backward area are not entitled to issuance of certificate despite marriage to a person belonging to a identified Backward area.

This way the Government has debarred the women from non backward areas marrying in backward areas for being entitled to RBA certificate to seek a Government job on the basis of reservations. It is ironical that the women from RBA areas after their marriage in the non RBA localities are deprived of the RBA certificates within no time while the women who marry in RBA areas have to wait for 15 long years in seeking the RBA certificates to claim the benefits under this reserved category, said Priya Sethi, ex corporator and general secretary Mahila Morcha BJP.

This is totally an injustice with women folk of the state, she said,adding earlier Government tried to debar the women marrying to a non state subject of their Permanent residence certificate rights and now it has adopted another yardstick to deprive the women of their rights.

This will not be tolerated at any cost, said Rajni another women activist of Nari Jagran Manch. ``We have taken up the issue with the Government and the Minister of Revenue and Relief Raman Bhalla has given us a word that this discrimination will be removed. In case the Government does not withdraw the order the women organizations will not in coming to streets to seek justice, she added.

It is unfortunate that a woman marrying in RBA has to wait for long 15 years to seek a job. This is a pretty long time and a woman will become over aged by that period, said Prakrati Gupta a student.

It may be recalled that State Government ahs kept20percentseats reserved under RBA category in Government services and professional colleges.
(Early Times)

Victimized by Their Own Gender

Rafia describes cases of "silent tyranny" of life of women after their marriage

Daughters or Daughter-in-Laws

Rafiya Munshi
(Assistant Professor of State Agriculture University)

After going through the bloodshed news of our state my eye caught the attention of khurram saba’s real emotional outbreaks. It acted as a hammer to my embedded thoughts of anguish stored in my brain looking for a vent. It is often said, life changes after marriage. In honest truth, and upon a more candid revision of this institution, I have found many married hearts wrung with pity and fellow-feelings and reflecting miseries in lot. So, yes! life changes. I confess I used to hate all cold conceptions about women being the endangered species in the hands of her in-laws, as I was known for my optimism and joyous nature. But when I also got in to this painted scene of my life, my natural sharpness has got blunted and my struggle with the concepts of happiness and grandeur is still going on. In any household where a man is at peace with a woman, even the heaviest of the metals in their hands are lighter than a feather. But when the opposite exists they start making bargains even for the expression of feelings. There are many families where unquestionable authority is given to all the members to show their discontent towards their daughter-in-laws in any manner possible. For them It is her duty to work under almost insuperable obligations and still sustain her sufferings quietly and smilingly. Every moment new experiments are made to keep all her working organs awake but her senses and the best part of blood asleep. And if unfortunately her organs get some setback for a while, she is blamed and believed of having a manufacturing defect and this product is sent back to her producers for repairs. She starts doubting her own talents, good natured patience, and her motherly instructioned tones and manners. Now what this daughter of eve can do, instead, locking up whatever she perceives in her torpid heart.

In my opinion, majority of the girls enter their in-laws household with a thought of generosity and goodwill, as they leave behind all the sweet courtesies of their parental home to join her husband’s family. But every now and then she is expected to make a new miracle and her spectators never give her a room to breathe. She should be able enough to make the delicacies to delight everyone’s stomach but if she proves to be too perfect and gains the rare syllables of appreciation from a luckily single kind heart of the family, the poor daughter of eve will be put under scanner again but this time in a cruder manner. Her every path is made too rough for her feet or too steep for her strength in order to imbalance her whim, sense and seriousness. And for the mother-in-law a feeling of insecurity towards her son after his marriage compels her heart and refreshes her brain with all the new ideas of making her son’s head clay-cold and heart Luke-warm towards the feeling of his beloved wife. And once this mother achieves this goal she becomes the mightiest ignoring even the almighty. And if the daughter-in law is wise enough to understand all this, attempts are being made to make her weakness of being shy and polite, an insult to her own wisdom. Even after getting inflicted by all this, and confining herself to her own inner world of despair and anguish; some daring but foolish souls like mine still try to set ways to make situations cordial. But she knows her dreams are getting mortified and she starts losing the handle of patience at the slightest provocations and often at lonely times bursts into a flood of tears.

In the same family there will be different set of rules for their daughter and daughter-in-law and so will be the treatment. The common phrase-blood is thicker than water, often crowds her imagination of how she is related to her in-laws. Every member of the family especially the women folk enjoys the right to show discontentment towards the daughter-in-law even if she is in the excellent frame of her personality. She has no right to involve herself in any decision of the family; even she cannot cook the feast of her choice. And if she turns out to be a working one, then she should carry with her the sheepish inferiority for not being available for the service during the day. Why she will bear such things which no single pair of shoulder in all religions and countries can, and still balance her sentiments? Why will be she expected to sense such things which are beyond her strength and limits? These types of treatments with the women will only expose the sanctity of marriage to more risks. We have to agree to the god’s justice for this relation. It is this relation of Adam and Eve which gave rise to all the blood relations. Women are suffering not because they want to, but it is her love and fear of losing her institution of marriage that makes her life more miserable and will always suffocate her for being a woman.

A European Scholar Who Loved Kashmir

Iqbal narrates the story of a special visitor who left a permanent legacy

(Mr. Iqbal Ahmad, 48, was born in Parigam Chek, Kulgam. He is a graduate with Diploma in Numismatics, Archaeology and Heritage. He is an archaeologist, writer, and a cultural historian. He is employed by the Jammu and Kashmir State Government. Mr. Iqbal Ahmad has published 12 reference books on Kashmir archaeology and heritage.)

Arul Stein and Kashmir

Sir Mark Arul Stein was a Hungarian scholar born in Buda piston on November 26,1862. It is said that from the very beginning he had a deep interest in touring and studying eastern culture. For this purpose, Stein is said to have achieved degrees in several disciplines of eastern history and culture from leading European universities and later worked on a doctorate in the same field. In 1885 he got an opportunity to visit the then British India where he got the job of a principal in the Lahore College. It was from here that Stein started his mission of research and went to nearby Bunar area to examine the scattered remnants and debris of ancient Undayana Empire, which were scattered on its beautiful landscape.

In 1901, Central Asian plains attracted the passions of Stains. He spent a good time in ancient Khottan and studied the material culture of the region. He came across a collection of ancient, artifacts, manuscripts and Tibetan antiquities there. He studied the material properly and forwarded his observations in his book Ancient Khottan in 1907. In this book he has also brought to light the ancient links of Khottan with other contemporary cultures. He felt the imprints of sub continent's on its culture and history.

Stein made extensive archaeological researches in Baloochistan and discovered several ancient settlements there. His discovery of Mahaban was a remarkable one. Of his high expertise Stein was again recommended for Central Asian survey and in 1906 he made a historic discovery at Tunhang that consisted of the remains of western portion of the Great Wall of China. The wall and caves were of ancient times, constructed to protect ancient China from the attack of Hun. The discovered caves still remembered here as Buddhist caves. One of these caves was closed from all of its sides. Incidentally in 1900, when the doors of this cave got opened a big collection of manuscripts and paintings made on silk cloth were recovered. China took the major portion of this collection. Stein could, however, get access to study several of these manuscripts. What Stein observed in his second expedition he compiled it in his another book. In year 1915 Stein went to Russia and from here moved to Samarqand, Khurasan and Seistan. He made a detailed survey of these dates and came across ancient settlements and remains Buddhist monasteries and Stupas on the mountain passes of Seistan. He conducted extensive researches on its typography, geography, archaeology, history and culture and published it in his grand book Sir India (in four volumes) in 1928.

Stein's Kashmir research was extraordinary. He had great love and affection with this land and its people and made several visits to this valley. Mahind Marg was the place where Stein used to study and compile them in the shape of books. The place is situated in the laps of Harmukh. "It was this place that Stein had desired to be buried in", as recorded by his Kashmirii Pandith friend Ramchand Bali. However, Stein died in Afghanistan and is buried there in Kabul's Christian graveyard.

Till the arrival of Arul Stein in Kashmir, several European missionaries had made several visits to Kashmir and provided their sketches of this land. Father Gersome Xavier and Benoist de Gois accompanied Mughal emperor Akbar to Kashmir. The next European traveler of note who wrote on Kashmir was the Jesuit priest. A more detailed account was given by a French physician, Francis Bernier who accompanied Aurangzeb in 1665. George Forster, Vigne and Moorcraft also provided interesting travel diaries of Kashmir. Fredric Drew and Cunnigham’s geographical, archaeological and numismatic accounts generated a good deal of interest among scholars to study more and more ancient remains, epics and culture of the valley.

George Buhler's memorable tour of Kashmir in 1875 had resulted in the discovery of valuable material for a systematic study of the history of Kashmir. He primarily got engaged in collection and examination of old Sanskrit and Persian manuscripts. He gave graphic and accurate notes of some old sites in the valley which he had visited himself. In his tour report he had indicated the manner in which a thorough study of Kalhan's Raj Tarangni and historical typography of Kashmir was undertaken. It won't be wrong to say that Arul Stein followed the Buhlers methods in his researches on Kashmir.

He was in Lahore when desired to have a genuine manuscript of Raj Tarangni. For this purpose he arrived in Kashmir in 1888 and succeeded in the discovery of 17th century copied manuscript of Kashmir chronicle written by Ram Kanth. Stein was very well conversant with Sanskrit, Persian, Kashmirii Pushtu and English. He could also decipher the ancient's scripts like Greek, Arabic, Kharaoshti, Brahmi and Sharda and translate them. During the translation of Raj Tarangni Stein is said to have studied not only the Kanth's manuscript but even had on the spot investigation of various historical sites and remains of Kashmir. And so identified several names recorded in corrupt form in Raj Tarangni.

It was really a very difficult task for a foreigner to study Raj Tarangni and to trace out the various historical events, sites and dates from the chronicle and identify those on the ground. In the words of late Moti Lal Saqi "the role of Stein in the restoration of Kashmir history and cultural heritage is extraordinary which in itself is as the foundation as the sum of the researches. If there had been no Stein, the Kak and Sofi accounts would have remained incomplete."

Kashmir served as the first milestone in Stein's research pursuits. That is why he was in deep love with Kashmir. Stein in his accounts has made mention of it.

"After several central Asian expeditions, I could get time and peace in my beloved mountain valley of Kashmir to rethink and study those investigations and observations which I had made in my re-searches of those far flung areas. There was no change in my love for Kashmir". Stein used to spend his summer vacations in Kashmir and visit and investigate the archaeological sites here. Besides he took keen interest in learning Kashmirii language and literature. With the help of his Kashmirii friend Govind Koul, he could consolidated and compile Hatam's tales, a collection of tales. These were narrated to him by one Hatim. Teli, who was a professional story teller of Panchle. Stein also visited Gilgit and identified and deciphered several human records on the mountains of Hunza and other places. These records were in shape of human and animal carvings and descriptions were given in Kharoshti and Brahmi epigraphs. He could decipher names of several Kushan and Kidar princes on its rock edicts. The incomplete task of Gilgit was later on taken up by Ahmad Hussain Dani, a Pakistani archeologist who identified hundreds of epigraphs and other human carvings on the sides of newly constructed Karokarm high way. He forwarded his results in the article Human records on Korkaram high way.

Unfortunately, the survey of Leh and Kargil areas remains still untraced. If its survey is done we can have a more concrete picture of Ladakh. It was Stein's survey of the region, which encouraged the later archaeologists to search the human records of the area. Arul Stein wrote a series of books on central Asia and Kashmir. His leading write ups include translating of Kalhana's Raj Tarangni, ancient geography of Kashmir, Sir India, Alexandra's tract in India, Marco-Polo-s account of Mongolian roads in Kashmir, Hatim's tales, identification of Parihaspura, a note on Avantipura, a note on Kashmirii monuments and memoir of maps illustrating the ancient geography of Kashmir.

Return to the Motherland

Rajnath narrates a personal story of his darshan of "Maej Kasheer" and shares his experiences

(Dr. Rajnath Bhat, 54, was born in Fohar, Anantnag District. He completed his B.Sc from Anantnag College, the University of Kashmir, followed by M.A. and Ph.D. in linguistics, as well as another M.A. and Ph.D. in Hindi from the Kurukshetra University. Subsequently, he spent three years at Tamil University Thanjavur; joined Kurukshetra University as a lecturer, eventually becaming a Reader. He went as Associate Professor to the University of Asmara, Eritrea, for over two years. Currently, he is a Professor in Linguistics at the Banaras Hindu University. In his leisure time, he prefers travel.)


May is a hot and dry month in the plains. I sensed that our mother found it difficult to manage day to day chores smoothly especially after the recent surgery that she underwent in Jan.10. My summer vacations were due to begin and I decided to pay a visit to Kashmir for the second time after our displacement in 1990. Mother agreed very happily. We traveled up to Jammu by train and took the less expensive flight, Spice Jet, from Jammu to Srinagar. My cousin’s brother-in law was waiting to receive us. We went to their residing place in Tulsi Bagh. After a quick lunch, rice with knolkhol, we went to the Jyeshtha Devi Temple complex where a room booked a month back was allotted. The room is spacious and sufficiently furnished. The cooking gas connection and utensils too have been provided. It was the month of May but there were two quilts and two blankets in the room so each person could sleep comfortably. I obtained rice, moong-beans, onion, cooking oil from the complex shop that made us comfortable with regard to our dinner as well. I had a nice sleep and my mother too must have slept well. Next morning mother prepared yellow rice and took it to the Devi’s temple some ten odd stairs away. I had a nice bath in the geyser-fitted bath-room of the room that was allotted to us. Soon it began to rain and it did not stop for the whole day. We were forced to remain in-doors with electric heater on. Meanwhile my cousin called and spoke to my mother, his paternal aunt, and instructed that a vehicle was on way to the temple-gate to take us back to his place of residence and we were supposed to cancel our stay at the temple-complex immediately. I met with the president of the Complex to convey our decision to him. We were back at Tulsi Bagh by 3 p.m. It rained for another two days making it impossible for us to move out of the residence. When the Sun appeared on the fourth day morning, a Friday, we decided to go to Mata Ksir Bhawani temple at Tulmul. My cousin arranged a taxi and we reached Tulmul at noon. It was a moment of great pleasure to be there. The security from the outer gate itself is very tight. The inner compound was almost empty. We sat inside the temple for quite some time. The purohit who put tilak on my forehead seems to be a local youth who has efficiently remembered the mantra to be recited while doing the job.

We started our return journey in the afternoon. A couple of miles away from the temple a group of youth stopped our vehicle. Our driver, Sahil, very politely agreed to turn back. He took a village route to the newly laid highway that perhaps connects Bandipora with the City. Once he sighted the highway, he felt relaxed. Then he told us that that was a normal thing on Fridays. Some youth in a few towns block roads after offering the Friday Namaz. A young bearded gentleman, Sahil has spent several years in places outside Kashmir. He had been an army recruit too but he had to quit. Sahil opened up and told us that he had a childhood friend who spoke very rarely and very little and whom people in the locality and home considered to be a lunatic. Then suddenly one day he along with a foreign national was blown up near an army camp by the explosives that he carried inside his pheran. Sahil was arrested to retrieve more information about his friend. “He knew nothing.” He looked sad and anguished for the suffering of his parents during the period of his arrest. It was 4 in the afternoon when we touched the City outskirts. Sahil on his own took us to Shalimar and Nishat Gardens and on our request to the ancient Shiva temple at Ishbari, then to Bhagwan Gopinath Ashram and the Ganpatyaar temple.

The Ganpatyaar temple is highly fortified. The KP houses in the vicinity have crumbled. I saw a dog entering a KP house through its window. I asked Sahil to come back the next morning if it was sunny.

We were back at the residence in the evening when three of my colleagues Roop, Maharaj and Mallikarjun from Patiala, Lucknow and Mysore respectively came over to meet me. They were in the City on an academic tour.

The next morning our vehicle came at about 8 in the morning and we took Roti and vegetables in our Tiffin box and started our journey to Sonamarg. The route to Sonamarg passes through Ganderbal, Kangan, Gund etc. Sahil halted for breakfast at Gund where my mother purchased Shawls. I had a cup of Kahwa for Rs. 15! Upon reaching Sonamarg we asked the driver to be around. We enjoyed the breeze and the snow-clad peaks around the place. A jeep nearby fitted with a microphone and an amplifier was making appeals in Kashmiri to seek financial support for ‘orphans’. After nearly two hours we asked Sahil to drive us back to where we could eat our food. He brought us to a Government restaurant some 5 KMs away from Sonamarg. The place is quite picturesque, situated on an island at the bank of Sindhu River. The Manager there was quite cordial. He allowed us to eat our own food there. However, we purchased biscuits, tea etc. from them. After lunch we met a Shawl-seller who happened to be a boy from our native village! He was happy to know that we hailed from his village! Our return journey was quite comfortable. We were back at the hotel by 6 p.m. The following day was a Sunday. We asked Sahil to bring his vehicle by around 10 a.m.

My cousin and two of his brothers-in law agreed to join us the next morning. They prepared delicious food-items early in the morning and we started our journey by 10 a.m. We reached Baba Rishi and went in there. There were another ten odd vehicles parked outside but we were the only KPs among the pilgrims. From there we went to Gulmarg where our driver parked at a height near the rope-way on the advice of my cousin. The driver left us there and went to meet his friends. It was a beautiful sight and quite breezy. The breeze made my mother uncomfortable. She wished to start the return journey immediately. My cousin and his brothers-in-law began to have liquor along with food. We finished our lunch by 2 p.m. There was a brief drizzle that made the place even more beautiful. My mother was looking around for Sahil to appear who finally came at 4 p.m. My mother did not spare him and he went on apologizing. We were back in the City by 7 p.m. Mother asked Sahil to come to the Hotel next day after 11a.m.

Sahil, the vehicle driver, called next morning to inform that his vehicle-owner needed the vehicle-Mahindra Xylo- and that he-Sahil- had arranged for a substitute driver and vehicle that would drop us at Mattan- Anantnag. Mattan is my mother’s birth-place. Two of her brothers have been spending the summer months there for the last five odd years. They have repaired/redone some part of the house that is located opposite the first gate of the Nagabal (the holy spring). Besides, Mattan has been my High School town. The alternative vehicle came and we started our journey after lunch. We made a brief stop at Avantipore temple-ruins and then at Anantnag Nagabal. We reached Mattan at around 4 p.m. Mamaji, AK, was waiting. The following two days were rainy again, so we stayed indoors. Meanwhile the elder Mamaji, BN, and his wife too arrived. AK has a trusting young man, Altaf, from the neighboring family who does several chores for him. The rains halted life especially in the villages.

A young person, a tailor-master, from the neighborhood came to AK’s room in the afternoon. He got acquainted with me and a few minutes later, he narrated the story of his suffering. “He went to Srinagar to learn the art of tailoring. A young fellow one day came to that shop and sought stitched clothes from him. Since he was only an apprentice, he did not know anything about the customers or their clothes; the elderly tailor-master who owned the shop was elsewhere. When he could not satisfy the young gentleman, the gentleman threatened him. A week or so later the apprentice was arrested and severely tortured. Several months later, he learnt that his name had been given to the security forces by the same gentleman who had threatened him at the tailor-master’s shop where he had come to learn the art of tailoring. The small town boy after severe suffering in the custody gathered courage to tell the senior most officers to make the following enquiries from the informer: “How did the informer know me? Which place was I from? What is my father’s name?” The officer did the same and found out the falsity of all that the informer had been saying all those months. The accused was helped by one of his London- based cousins during the period. Finally he was out and he went back to his little town to do tailoring on his own. He has moderate earnings now.

Altaf helped us to hire a taxi from the town when it was sunny again and we went in a single day to Verinag, Kokernag, Acchabal, Nagadandi, Martand Sun-temple-ruins, and returned to Mattan by 7 p.m.We had lunch at Kokernag.

The following day the same taxi took us to Arau- ahead of Pahalgam- where we had tea. We met four young men- Shawl sellers- from our native village there. We returned to Pahalgam at lunch-time and had lunch at a Dhaba near the Bus- Stand. Then we went to the Mamaleshwar temple across the river Lidder. A local youth, it seems, puts vermillion on the pilgrims’ forehead at the temple. After 4p.m. we started our return journey. We went to our native village that falls en-route Mattan-Pahalgam road some 18 KMs away from Pahalgam. We reached the house of the lone KP family in the village in the evening. Two of their daughters had arrived from Delhi/Jammu the previous day. My Mamaji and Altaf had tea with us and they went back to Mattan. My childhood friend Dar came to meet us the next morning so did another person, Mir, who was very close to my eldest paternal uncle’s family. Dar was aware of my illness and he as well as his wife was further shocked to see me with a staff in hand. Mir too was shocked as he learnt about the serious illness that I suffered last autumn.

In a matter of minutes, Mir told us that years ago he was asked to play his beloved musical instrument, Rabab, in a hall in a village five KMs away from our village. There were some more music-lovers and singers who too were persuaded to participate in the musical evening. But it was a conspiracy, said he. An hour or less had passed, when their instruments were broken into pieces and they (the players/singers) were given a severe beating by the men, then known as ‘cultural police’. During the subsequent days men opposed to ‘cultural police’ tried to probe them regarding the identity of the beaters but they did not reveal their identity to prevent further harassment to themselves. Being a music-lover he feels sad for animal or any killing. He asked me and my mother to stay on in the village and get a house constructed. He promised to extend whatever support he could.

I found that these boys of yesteryears, who are of my age or senior to me, have black hair and look much younger.

During the day I met a couple of state security personnel who reside in my younger uncle’s house. After brunch they bask in our kitchen-garden across the stream. One of them asked me to return and settle in my village. Yes, said I, but only after the fear /threat of any kind gets eliminated. “That will not happen any day”, said he.

I walked a couple of lanes, went to the Bhuteshwar temple across the stream and prepared to leave the next day. My friend Dar dropped me and my mother at Mattan where from AK’s younger son, my cousin, brought me to Srinagar. En-route Srinagar, he stopped his vehicle and paid a hefty sum in cash at a Durgah. I spent the following day at his place. Next morning he sent his friend, an MD medicine, who dropped me at the airport. The young doctor from the City believes that ‘the old peaceful days- that he has not experienced in person- shall come back’. At the airport, he put my suitcase on a trolley, and I said good-bye to him.

An hour later, I was at Jammu. In the evening I went to Chhanni, Sector 4 in a hired auto to wish luck to my paternal cousins whose sons’ marriage was in progress. They wanted me to stay for the night but I could not because the medicine that I take after dinner was not with me. One of the grooms dropped me back at my sister’s place at Shakti Nagar. The next morning, my sister and I went to the wedding of the daughter of a village girl, Lalli. It proved a good meeting place. We met a large number of men and women from our native village. The next afternoon, I started my return journey to Varanasi; my place of work which Dr. K L Chaudhary calls ‘the abode of god’- and reached here on Sunday. On Tuesday, I took over as the Head of the Department for the second term.

Freedom of Choice

A young man asks a perennial question - does physical freedom mean anything without spiritual freedom?

What is Azadi?

Maasid Sidiq

Azadi or Freedom is the long cherished dream of every person under oppression. Be it the case of Palestinians in Palestine, Kashmiris in Kashmir or Afghans in Afghanistan, all proclaim together when it is said to them as to what you people want.

In Kashmir there are people of different colours, each rejoicing its own perception of Azadi and rejecting the other. Some people believe that Autonomy should be given; some are in favour of Self Rule, some in favour of Greater Autonomy while others want nothing more or less than Right to self Determination. If carefully examined, one will find that all these proposals are actually in favour of Kashmiri people, then why we witness huss and fuss all around.

A proper mechanism should be developed to make people understand the different ideologies and to chalk out the best definition and perception of Azadi .

This post is dedicated to cover up these things, and we shall provide much basic, better and more comprehensive definition and perception of Azadi in the end. And it will also discuss the simple way to attain it. I don’t intend to criticize any perception here but to acquaint ourselves with the fact that some basic and fundamentals tools necessary to get real Azadi are missing. (Please note that our point of introspection is Indian administrated Kashmir)

To begin with we put forth different prevailing perceptions about Azadi .

1. Common perception about Azadi :
Azadi means safety, security, prosperity, growth in each sector of society and like to a commoner. A commoner has nothing to do as to who runs the state, he doesn’t give the slightest of concern as to who his PM, CM, president, DC, DM etc is. What he wants is Roti, Kapda and Makan (Bread, clothes and shelter). If he is a Kashmiri, he doesn’t wander to know as to whether his land is or should be under Indian rule, Pakistani or independent. He simply wants a regular cash inflow, genuine work in order to sustain, good education for his children, his family’s safety, security and prosperity.

2. Azadi for Intellectuals
These people more or less hold the same perception of Azadi as that of a commoner however this class has spent a part of their life mugging in the classrooms, attending the boring lectures of the teachers, getting up early and going to school/College/University, preparing assignments and all, their perception is a little different. They want their people, their land/country to know them; self actualization is what they need in addition to what common man wants. Let society know that so and so is a PhD, let he be given the right to speech and express himself, let he be given the right to form groups, NGOs etc.

3. Azadi from Oppressor:
This is an intelligent class, they have a broader sense of Azadi and don’t merely want hanky panky things like business growth, development of roads, public security at the very onset. Their main motto is to get rid of the oppressor, they won’t care even if they have to sacrifice one thousand, ten thousand or hundred thousand lives for that, they are all ready for it, for it is strongly believed here that the oppressors have killed their kith and kin in the past and they won’t let their blood go waste. The oppressor, they believe, has disturbed the peace and atmosphere in the society, brought in corruption and mistrust, hence the root cause of all problems is the oppressor itself and unless they are removed from the society the real peace is not ever going to prevail at all. Establishment of new malls and shopping centres is not a prime objective for them but to get rid of the oppressor come hell or high water.

The people having the first two perceptions are normally dormant, but the third group is an active one, therefore it is more important that the topic is discussed. And now we have to analyse as to whether we should put a full stop here and declare their perception to be true and final or add to it something or subtract from it something. We put forth following points in this regard:

 Suppose that tomorrow we attain the ‘Right to self Determination’. A plebiscite is held and the result is that Kashmiris want to be free. Now Kashmir is literally free. From what? From the India state, so is this Azadi? Kashmir will still be one of the most corrupt states; the people here will still be lazy and coward at heart. Jealousy, hatred, backbiting will still be prominent. Are we Azad then?

 We are entitled today to close shops early, and we have good reason to justify that. But who stops us from starting early, why don’t educational institutes, business establishments, shops etc start the daily work early in the morning. If today we begin at 10:00 am why don’t we make it 6:00 in the morning (in summers) if we really care about the way we lose by closing up early. No one stops us from starting up early, does anyone? The ground reality is that we don’t want to work, we are lazy people, and this laziness will remain even after we get the literal ‘independence’.

 People may think that these are just the moral and like problems and can be tackled easily anytime. But how can we believe them. Those who are not serious in changing their own behaviour at the very onset, how are they going to change their land and make it free?

Roads to Azadi
A strong movement for Azadi does not begin with force at the very beginning, rather it begins with some serious homework and ground preparation.

It begins with changing ourselves first. How many organisations, active organisations do we have here in Kashmir who strive to impart the education, true morals, real ethics, correct knowledge of the Book (the Holy Quran) and the Sunnah and like to the common people of Kashmir. How many of us (students) spend more time in studying books than chatting with our friends on Facebook. How many intellectuals have dedicated their lives for cause of common Kashmiri.

If Azadi is going to come then it will come through these people but Alas! We are short of these real warriors. Azadi is not a one man show that we have a good leader and he is leading us good, make right speeches at right times.... It is rather something attributed and closely linked to each and every commoner of the state.

Azadi is a spirit within those who dream of it, this spirit is reflected in each and every work they do. So, a fighter for Azadi would be good student in the class, a good trader, a good teacher, a good manager, a good employee and a good employer. By ‘good’ we don’t necessarily mean that he would be a topper of his class in the student’s case or a millionaire in case of a trader but hardworking, honest, modest and dedicated person. A person who cannot do justice to his work and his own cause, how can we expect him to be just, true and honest when it comes to fighting for Azadi. A real freedom fighter is a warrior within.

Therefore before we get the physical Azadi, we must get spiritual Azadi. For we don’t know how long will it take for the Kashmir dispute to solve, that is, we don’t know when we are going to get the physical Azadi, but the spiritual one we can get right now. It is simple. Be true and sincere in your approach, honest in your dealings and dedicated towards your job. Do righteous deed, abstain from all evils. Isn’t it simple? Yes as long as we really want an end and full stop to all oppression and conflict.

Summer of Anarchy - 5

Fayyaz reports that opposition has its peculiar army with a handy weapon of choice

(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.)

'Separatist forces' enforce shutdown with heavy stone pelting on civilian traffic

Srinagar: On the month's first normal day in Kashmir valley, unruly groups of youth enforced shutdown in the afternoon while damaging hundreds of civilian vehicles in heavy stone pelting on traffic and business establishments in major townships. Meanwhile, a 13-year-old boy drowned in river Jhelum during the course of a fierce clash between stone pelting groups and Police in Baramulla, raising the number of youngsters killed since June 11th in Kashmir valley to 16.

Residents of Jalal Sahib Mohalla in old town of Baramulla complained to Early Times that two young boys jumped into the river Jhelum when Police and CRPF were chasing the youngsters during a clash across Azad Bridge at the district headquarters. According to them, one of the boys came out of the waters successfully but 13-year-old Faizan Ahmed Buhroo S/o Mohammad Rafeeq Buhroo was believed dead. However, residents and professional divers failed to recover him dead or alive. Residents said that in retaliation to stone pelting from the unruly mobs enforcing shutdown in the afternoon, Police and CRPF used baton charge and also fired dozens of teargas shells. They held Police and CRPF responsible for the boy's death and asserted that both the boys could have been arrested comfortably.

SSP Baramulla, Sheikh Mehmood, said that according to the preliminary reports available with him, two young boys chose to hide themselves behind a truck laden with floor across the bridge. He said that during the course of clash and teargas shelling, the duo jumped into the river over 200 yards away from the Police and CRPF position. He said that one of the boys was believed to have drowned to death but no dead body had been spotted or fished out till late tonight. He refused to accept that Police or CRPF were responsible for the boy's death. "They neither chased the boys to the extent of forcing them to jump into the river nor fired any ammunition on them. Police have taken cognizance and begun an investigation", SSP Baramulla said and asserted that a detailed investigation would reveal the facts.

Faizan is the 16th civilian to have died in different incidents of violence and clashes between the people and security forces since June 11th in Kashmir. All the sixteen are youngsters.

Earlier today, Kashmir valley witnessed first normal day of the month after two weeks of continued shutdown, enforced by 'separatist forces', and curfew, enforced by security forces. In the backdrop of unprecedented sales, including distress buying of fuel on all petrol pumps, markets witnessed hustle and bustle. Reports of unending traffic jams came in from almost all parts of this capital city besides rural district headquarters and major townships across the Valley.

With Saturday being a half day of transactions at the banks, thousands of subscribers thronged over 200 ATMs of different banks in Srinagar and other parts of the valley to withdraw sizeable amounts of money in view of Hurriyat Geelani's fresh calendar of weeklong hartal. There was panic and chaos at petrol pumps and ATMs. Sources said that over Rs 100 Crore were withdrawn as the bank officials kept refilling the cash machines every hour.

Subscribers shuttling from one neighbourhood to another, complained that most of the ATMs were empty in the afternoon and a large number of them were not functioning.
Hurriyat (Geelani) had relaxed its shutdown programme---part of its "Quit Jammu and Kashmir" campaign---and allowed people to perform shopping by 1400 hours today. However, none of the shops or business established closed down at the given deadline. Suddenly youngsters surfaced at streets at different places in Srinagar and many other towns and resorted to heavy stone pelting on business establishments and the civilian vehicles found in movement. No official figures were available tonight but over 200 vehicles and shops were estimated to have been damaged. "Yesterday security forces were enforcing curfew by force. Today it is the separatist forces who are enforcing shutdown without regard to human rights", many in the capital city complained.

Hurriyat Geelani is enforcing continued shutdown for another seven days from tomorrow.