Introduction to Blog

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

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

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

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

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

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Recalling Campus Politics Before the Gun Culture

Zahid arrived on the campus of the University of Kashmir in 1972 and got his taste of Kashmiri politics

(Mr. Zahid G. Mohammad, 62, was born and raised in Srinagar. He earned his Master's degree in English literature from the Kashmir University and has completed a course in Mass Communication from Indian Institute of Mass Communication. He is a writer and a journalist who has written for many newspapers, including the Statesman, the Sunday, and the Kashmir Times. He currently works for the Greater Kashmir.)

So Much Happened, But No One Was Arrested

Campus days are beautiful, full of life and romance. They are seductive when it comes to my alma mater. I don’t know who has selected campus site for Kashmir University – whosoever it has been, could be an esthete.

I have not seen such a beautiful campus- ‘with its masculine and feminine’ beauty. On the very first day I fell in love with it. It was really love at first sight. This has not been an ephemeral affair, forty years after I am still in love with it- whenever I feel fatigued and start thinking ‘ripeness’ in literal sense having set in, I visit the campus. The visit is always metamorphous, on entering the gates I immediately returned to my teenybopper days. Winding my journey through the lanes of nostalgia every scene of my days at the campus pops up like icons on the screen of my computer- and at every click takes me into yet another world.

I had joined this campus at the fall of 1972. It was October, season of ‘mellow fruitfulness.’ The campus on all its sides had apple gardens- with every bough drooping with apples as rubicund as the cheeks of a village damsel after a fresh icy water splash on her face. The ambience was so gorgeous and stunning that on many occasions, it unlocked imagination of a prosaic person like me and waxed me lyrical. I don’t know how it affected the sensibilities of my poet friends- there were those day many poets and poetaster in the campus. The number of poetasters was countless.

Many would be seen parodying on the stairs leading to the arts block building. Names of some poet friends still live in my memory: Shafi Shouq, Rafiq Raz, Syed Fazlullah Dilgeer, Syed Zeeshan Fazil and Rashid Afaq. Many like me turned poetic on the spur of the moment, as it always happens at such an age in the University.

These poets and some little known short story writers added some spice to otherwise dull educational atmosphere of the campus by organizing cultural and literary functions. These people met under an organization Koshur Cultural Forum. Many teachers that included Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed presently General Secretary Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) largest Muslim Organization of USA, Prof. Saif-U-Din- Soz, then Joint Registrar in the University, Abdul Aziz, Dean Students Welfare, Prof. Rehman Rahi, Dr. Margoob Banihali teachers in Persian Department and Bushan Lal Koul teacher in Hindi Department supported the activities.

Koshur Cultural Forum those days was an oasis in the desert of highly politicized campus. The campus those days was not as apolitical as it has been now for past few years. During early seventies the number of students’ organization supporting demand for plebiscite had mushroomed but membership of most of these organizations never crossed beyond that of its office bearers. Mostly they looked at Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg as their patron. Some of these student organizations had very funny names- and they mostly earned a butt of ridicule from Late Khawaja Sanaullah Bhat editor of Daily Aftab in his satirical column ‘Khazar Suchata Hai Wular Ki Kinayari).

Many student leaders after their release from jails had taken admission in various courses. Most of them were in the law and political science departments - most of them later made top slots in the government. The student leaders on the campus were overwhelmingly antiestablishment and had the capability of sparking student agitations on trifles. In fact these were the fading days of the student politics in the state- major student organizations had gone into oblivion to die even without a whimper.

But despite these declining trends in students politics campus scene had made some congress ministers in Syed Mir Qasim government restless. With a view to build their own constituency in the university campus and other educational institutions these ministers wooed some students. A unit of National Students Union (NSUI) under state government patronage was established and some of its members were allotted land in prime location for setting up their commercial concerns. This was first major and organized effort of introducing political corruption in educational institutions.

The anger against the ministers politicizing the University was brewing up. This anger found an ugly manifestation in middle of 1973. The occasion was transfer of Governor Mr. Baghwan Sahi from the State. University had organized a farewell party for him as chancellor. It was perhaps the first and the last farewell party of the university during my days in the campus when students had been invited. A group of students mainly those associated with the NSUI were engaged by the University as volunteers. Majority of the students in this group belonged to Mathematics and Physics Departments of the University. And some students from the adjacent Regional Engineering College who also avowedly supported the minister were also engaged as volunteers.

I vividly remember the scene of governor’s visit. Majority of the students both boys and girl sat quietly on the well laid out tables under royal state canopies erected on the lawns near the administrative block. The student volunteers professing allegiance to the ministers were conspicuous for the movements inside the tent. Their presence irked many students near the dice irked many students.

Those days’ three tier cordons were not put in place around the University on the visit of any VVIP. He would not be accompanied by a battery of bureaucrats or huge contingents of police and paramilitary troops. Only one or two members’ of personal staff would accompany the top man. The Governor arrived and was greeted by ministers, vice chancellor and other university functionaries. No moment the Vice Chancellor started reading welcome address one boy flung a saucer in the air and it hit the minister. After this there was a pandemonium. I don’t remember if governor presented his address or not but the scenes of violence inside the campus are still fresh in my memory. The student supporters of the minister were attacked by mobs of the students and some of them bled profusely. Names of most of the boys who were prominent in spoiling the farewell function have etherized from my mind but some names that still live in the hinterland of my mind are Sheikh Manzoor Ahmed, Iftikhar Ahmed, Abdul Rashid Wani, Ghulam Mustafa, Sheikh Mustafa Nazir Ahmed Mir, Ghulam Jeelani Ashia, Abdul Hamid Bhat and Wali Mohammad, Sara Tikoo and

The beauty of this ugly incident that had triggered lot of violence on the lawns of the University campus was that not a single student was arrested, no case was registered against any of the students… that was the then governance.

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