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, October 29, 2010

Death of Sanity

Muneeb speaks for Kashmir youth driven between the "devil and the deep sea"

(Mr. Muneeb Raja, 32, was born in Srinagar in a business family. He did his schooling from Burn Hall and Tyndale Biscoe. He completed his graduation from Melbourne, Australia, and recently completed an online certificate course on Conflict Analaysis and Management from the USIP. He has worked as a journalist in New Delhi, and now heads a research organization in social sector in the valley. Mr. Raja occasionally writes for the Rising Kashmir.)

Death of Democracy

The most disastrous year of this decade in the form of human suffering and tragedy has been 2010 for Kashmiris. On one hand New Delhi has been claiming for a crown on various economic and world forums and on the other hand the so-called crown of this growing country has been trampled under the boots of its own people.

The country which is proud of its diversity and its democracy has shamelessly and mercilessly crushed its own proud by not only being ruthless but also highly arrogant towards people of a state who have been raising voices against the daily inhuman act committed on them.

With more and more young people dying on the streets and the old fragile shoulders burdened with the task of burying not only the hope of a budding generation but as well as a nation, the onus is really on New Delhi to bring an end to the current cycle of violence and to deliver on the promises made for a political solution to this war-torn state where for now peace is not only elusive but seems a distant dream.

No doubt the assembly elections in Kashmir saw a sizeable amount of voting and a democratic government emerged under the leadership of Omar Abdullah who had promised an overall development with the slogan of Bijli, Sadak and Paani, the Aam Aadmi had really pinned hopes on his government for leading the conflict-ridden, emotionally and financially crumpling state to some sort of dignity and pride. However, the events that followed plunged the entire state into an ocean of crises and chaos. The dirty dance of death began just a day after Omar Abdullah became the CM, a deaf and dumb man was shot dead just a few yards away from his residence. Shortly after, the Bomai killings happened when army shot dead three innocent youth. Though the timely intervention by the CM did bring some solace to the people but when the Shopian incident took place where two young women were allegedly raped and murdered, the entire valley erupted in a fireball of protests and just when it seemed that the fire has been doused, Machil fake encounter in which three innocent civilians were murdered in cold blood followed by the killing of a young school-going kid Tufail Mattoo fuelled it to an extent where it reached disastrous heights and the dissent among people that grew was never seen before. Over four months, more than 100 young boys, men and even women lost their lives while thousands were left injured in an unabated cycle of violence which just doesn’t seem to end. With the protests growing against killing of unarmed protesters everyday, the state’s iron fist policy is raising many questions about the legitimacy of democratic rights of Kashmiri people.

Protesting against injustice is a fundamental right of any citizen in a democratic country and India being a democratic country where number of times stone pelting was witnessed in many parts of the country including its capital and other metropolitan cities, even when the national mainstream parties had called for protests, their workers had vandalized government and public property, the protesters never met with a bullet in response to their activities. However, in Kashmir the stone pelting protestors’ voice crying for a life of dignity and self respect has been silenced by the bullets. With no end in corruption, favoritism and political alienation on one end and brutal violations of human rights on the other the young Kashmiri population see themselves increasingly being pushed towards a wall of despair with no space of hope from any corner.

In circumstances where the definition of humanity has virtually lost its meaning and the democratic political leadership has turned itself into a dictatorship by silencing the voices and the cries of genuine grievances, people of the valley have been left with no other choice but to fight for their existence - Right to Live. Something that has been taken away from them. So it won’t be an overstatement to make that the killers of democracy and the diggers of its grave are its very own saviors - the politicians. The complete failure of a political system on reaching out to people in these crucial circumstances has once again highlighted the lax on the part of mainstream policies and the seriousness in addressing the grievances of the Aam Admi who is suffering endlessly.

The visit of All Party Delegation and the subsequent announcement of the eight-point formula to cool down tempers and bring an end to violence did trigger a debate among many about the seriousness of New Delhi in initiating a peace process and addressing the conflict. The most crucial among eight-points offered was the appointment of interlocutors with strong political background who could build political consensus among Indian Politicians to bring an amicable political solution to the Kashmir conflict. But New Delhi’s choice of appointing academicians and journalists has turned out to be the biggest disappointment. A political solution needs political acumen and a political will to resolve an issue which is of a very sensitive political nature with broader contours of interstate conflict attached to it. At a time when majority of Kashmiri’s want a long lasting peaceful solution to this never-ending conflict and the initial interest from New Delhi to meet them half way has again been dealt with a major blow. New Delhi backtracking on political interlocutors is a serious blow to an intra-state peace process. At a time when New Delhi could have addressed the trust deficit and endorsed its seriousness in seeking a lasting solution which would have restored faith in the masses by political intervention and sustained political dialogue, on the contrary the appointment of non political interlocutors has raised serious concerns about their callous approach and non seriousness in dousing the flames once and for all. Whether the interlocutors can achieve the goal which none of the similar ones in the past have been able to achieve is a question that will be answered in the coming time but much depends on the political will of New Delhi to seek a win-win solution that will also determine the overall peace of South Asia.

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