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, April 11, 2011

The Dying Chinar

Imran speaks passionately about a beautiful living object that is dying right in front of his eyes (and ours)

(Mr. Imran Mohammad Muzaffar, 21, was born in Hajin Sonawari, Bandipora. He completed his high school from the Government Higher Secondary School in Hajin. He has studied Political Science and History, and joined Government Degree College, Baramulla, to study Convergent Journalism. Mr. Muzaffar has participated in one of the workshops of the BBC World Service Trust on Social Affairs Reporting. He has participated in the National Science Drama Contest in New Delhi, and looks forward to pursue post-graduate studies. He writes occasionally to express his hopes and dreams.)

Chinars are Wailing

Chinar, I would lean against, is no more on the ground. Chopped into pieces, coloured black, and alone among the junior ones, as if the eldest member of a family has been killed, my favourite, gigantic, shadowy and best ear-lending chinar in the Naseem Bagh has been ultimately cut down by the brute force in the disguise of development.

I remember my grandparents talking of Naseem Bagh as the most beautiful and peaceful land Kashmir would ever be proud of. I read Aga Shahid’s portrayal of Chinars in his poems. I hear travel agents talk of Naseem Bagh whenever any angrez sahib has to explore the valley. I see Naseem Bagh boyfriend-girlfriend rendezvous. Much water has flown down the Jhelum. But that of Dal Lake, they say, waters never move therein. At a time when the university premises are full of energetic boys and girls seeking for admissions, the Naseem Bagh, on the other hand, is crying and its greatest chinars, under whose shade millions have made their mark, are shrinking. Naseem Bagh, whose backdrop are the greatest Himalayas, seems almost barren now after the monster’s havoc on the chinars and further marking of those chinars who are to be cut in the future course of time. The chinars are marked with black colour so that there is no confusion in cutting the chinars down. I wonder how the uncountable chinars squeeze to some at-sight countable poor creatures, in whose mourning no protests are held and no obituaries published.

The very chinar I would share memories and pastime with is really no more. I could not believe at first but the reality was like that, I jogged through whole of the Naseem Bagh to find the chinar but at the end it was an awful sight watching it chopped down. Such a grand tree, it used to shadow much of the land relaxing students and teachers amid the hustle bustle of day today heavy business. I remember students discussing events with their teachers in the shade of that tree long when the other students had gone back to their hostels and homes.

It was a holy tree for me, for others I don’t know. Lore has it, there used to be uncountable chinars, UNCOUNTABLE, to count and Naseem Bagh would be so dense that it used to filter whole city’s air and Dal lake would be incomplete without these gigantic, beautiful and hapless chinars. I remember in my childhood when we were taken for a picnic; we were shown ‘The Kashmir University’ in general and ‘Naseem Bagh’ in PARTICULAR. Teachers told us that the Bagh is the highest chinar bearing one and not a single Chinar is prone to any disease, cutter and poacher. Now the gates are open, cutters are being sharpened day in and day out in the face of development. Contracts are given and are being challenged to cut maximum in a given time. Naseem Bagh throws a mournful expression.

Chinars are wailing.

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