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, March 4, 2011

Women's Day

As we approach the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day on 8th March, Nida reflects on the suffering that is taking its toll among the women in Kashmir, followed by a declaration by the "Women for Peace"

(Ms. Nida Qayoom,23, was born in Sopore. She matriculated from Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Sopore, followed by graduation in the English Literature from Government Degree College,Sopore. She did her post graduation in English from the University of Kashmir in 2008. She is presently working as a contractual lecturer in English Literature, and in 2009-2010 did so at the at the Government Degree College in Handwara. She writes regular columns in Daily English Newspaper, The Rising Kashmir, related to various conflict and social Issues in Kashmir. She has been a National Service Scheme (NSS) worker for three years and participated in the 91st Indian Science Congress held in Chandigarh in 2004. Ms. Qayoom was awarded the best speaker of the college by the then Education Minister in 2004, and best anchor of the college in 2005. She has participated in the National Games for women as an athlete in 2003 held in Pondicherry and also participated and received awards in many debate competitions and symposiums from 2004 to 2006 held in different colleges of the valley.)

The Pain of Being a Woman

Five years ago her husband went off for work. He never returned. In crossing the moor, he was engulfed by some treacherous armed personnel. She was informed by some people of her locality about her husband’s fate. She moved from pillar to post to find his whereabouts all alone with nobody to fall back upon.

Whether he is alive or dead remains an unsolved mystery. If dead, his body was never recovered. That is the dreadful part of her life. Poor Amina, hailing from a small hamlet of Kupwara District, with two little children to look after, always thinks that he will come back someday and walk in at last through the door just as he used to do. The door is thus kept open every evening till it is dark. At times she gets a creepy feeling that he will open the door and walk in.

There are many such Aminas in our Kashmir who are caught in an unending whirls and sufferings silently and are not able to give vent to their feelings. The pain of being a woman, a frail creature, a weaker sex trampled under the heavy boots of many known and unknown forces; exploited for selfish gains, all this can be experienced in Kashmir. Since the start of militancy, the womenfolk of Kashmir are most affected. They are the real sufferers, the eyewitnesses to anguish and pain. If a man is killed, his sufferings come to an end at the moment of his death. But a woman dies many deaths with every passing day. Either she has to look after her small children or she has to take the responsibility of the whole family, besides being a daughter, a sister and a mother too.

We can understand the pain of a sister who loses her only bread earning brother and thus begins her unending journey of hardships and sufferings and that too when she lives in a conservative society like ours. Her compulsions and helplessness is exploited by the black sheep of our society and she is dragged into illicit trade, as we are aware of so many scandals which have emerged in the valley for many years. A big portion among the women sufferers are half widows whose husbands have disappeared either in custody of security forces or by some unknown forces. These half widows neither live nor die. They are doomed to live in a state of helplessness and are left to suffer for their whole lives and hoping against hope that someday, somehow their husbands will return and bring back their lost smiles. Every single day is a nightmare for them with nobody around to wipe off their tears and thus they succumb to their woes and crave for death…the wounds inflicted on them can hardly heal. They are living with a sense of agony. This is the pathetic story of a woman living in burning paradise.

‘Women in Kashmir demand peace and dignity’

Srinagar: Women for Peace a non profit group has urged all political sects of Kashmir to give peace a chance in Valley and stop the blood shed.

“We the women of Kashmir demand that no more blood of the young be spilled on the streets of our Valley. Issues can only be resolved in an atmosphere of peace. Let us give peace a chance,” a joint press statement by organization released here on Thursday said.

“Our experiences of the recent years forces us not to remain silent as we have took the brunt of violence, faced humiliations of many types, seen the disruption of our social fabric. We want the cycle of violence to end,” press statement by the organization read.

They also demanded an inquiry into the deaths of summer 2010, immediate halt on arrest of minors, rehabilitation of first time offenders, special juvenile prisons for minors and police sensitization of forces dealing with public in volatile situations.

The members of the group include Prof Nusarat Andrabi Prof Neerja Mattoo, Nighat Shafi, Naseem Shifie Dr Yasmeen Ashai, Fehmida Shah, Isober Ali, Ruksana Shams, Dr Tehemina Bukhari, Ayesha Salim, Anita Mehta, Dilafroze Qazi, and Dr Shamshad Bashir.

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