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 28, 2011

Aab Chu Dazaan (Water in Flames)

When the irreproachable Khawaja speaks, Kashmiris listen and sometimes even read

(Khawaja Farooq Renzu Shah, 54, was born in Srinagar. He matriculated from the Government Higher Secondary School in Nawa Kadal, and attended Sri Pratap College, Srinagar. He completed his L.L.B. degree from the University of Kashmir, securing the first position and a gold medal. He subsequently entered the Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS), and has served as District Commissioner, Budgam, and presently is the Director of Information in the state service. He spends his leisure time writing novels and working on spiritual communication, and writing and propogating friendship, peace, progress and unity among the people of all religions and identities.)

When RenzuShah Sets Water on Fire, Kashmiri Attracts Pahari

Srinagar: Prominent bureaucrat and author, Khawaja Farooq RenzuShah has literally set water on fire by authoring a novel Aab Chu Dazaan (Water in flames), which even after two years of hitting the book stands is so hot that it recently got translated in Pahari while none other than Governor NN Vohra on Monday released the regional language version Pani Bich Pahmad amid applauds from the audience.

But the City function didn’t end here. The audience at the jam packed SKICC auditorium on Dal banks was surprised to know that RenzuShah’s contribution in the field of literature is so monumental that at least two scholars till now have done their Masters in Philosophy on his books.


While congratulating RenzuShah for having written such a novel, Vohra said his contribution could help promote brotherhood.

“Although I haven’t read the book but what I heard about it is surely going to help promote brotherhood,” the Governor said adding “It’s a very big contribution.”

He asked the author and others “like him” to contribute more towards literature so that “there’s more of harmony in the country with 1.22 crore population.”

“There’s a need to live amid peace and harmony because only this will lead us to prosperity,” the Governor said.

“This is because literature is born out of love and sympathy.”


Chief Information Commissioner GR Sufi while hailing RenzuShah said the author was beyond a “routine bureaucrat.”

“Most important thing is that Bureaucrats are mostly busy with files and not all like me can do what he (RenzuShah) has been doing by contributing towards literature.”

Paharis Congratulate

President of a Pahari forum, Syed Mushtaq Bukhari said the translation of the book in Pahari had brought the language to limelight because of RenzuShah.

“All the eleven thousand Pahari people should feel proud of this event,” he said.


Prominent writer Parvez Manoos who has authored 13 books in Urdu and Pahari said that it was his chance interaction with RenzuShah at Civil Secretariat sometime back that the idea of Pahari version realized.

“I told him that I have read his Aab Chu Dazaan and aspire to translate the same, to which he happily agreed,” Manoos, who transated the book, said.


RenzuShah who has authored no less than 11 books including the heart touching titles like Zakhmu Ki Salgirah, Kutta Bhonkta Hai, Dhoobtay Kinaray, Inqilaab Ka Shaheed, Jheel Jalti Hai and Bhanwar Meri Manzil has proved to be food-for-thought for the research scholars.

Irfan Qureshi happens to be second in the list of people who till now have successfully completed M Phil degrees on books by RenzuShah.

Qureshi said it was “simply great” working on the life and contribution of a soft-hearted man with a brave and revolutionary pen.”


RenzuShah, who also happens to be Director Information, in his welcome address turned nostalgic of his college days when he started writing novels way back in 1975 as a student of SP College. He candidly admitted that he was never watchful of what he writes till a few years back when the first M Phil was completed on his contribution. “That day I realized that some watchful eyes are always meticulously after what we write,” he said at the event hosted by Kashmir Society.

RenzuShah said there was need to translate Kashmiri literature in foreign languages because people abroad are eager to read the same adding that it would lead to “revolution of love across the globe”.

Referring to his lectures abroad, he said while addressing at California University he spoke about contribution of Sheikh Ul Alam (RA) and the audience was curious to read about “Awlia-e-Kiraam”.

RenzuShah who is equally known for English newspaper columns on “Awlia-e-Kiraam” said: “Only good literature can lead to revolution of love and this is what is needed.”


While Kashmir University VC, Professor Talat Ahmed said RenzuShah’s work be translated in other languages, his Central University counterpart Prof Abdul Wahid said: “There’s an undercurrent of Sufism in his literature.”

(Greater Kashmir)

Corruption Everywhere

Javid points to glaring examples of corruption in the State Administration and the State Assembly, indicating that every one who can milk the system usually does

(Dr. Javid Iqbal, 65, was born in Srinagar. He attended the D.A.V. School, Srinagar, and graduated in Medicine from the Government Medical College (GMC). His professional service in medicine includes work in the Middle East for three decades. During his days at the GMC, he captained the cricket team. Dr. Iqbal is the Vice Principal, Controller and the head of department - Operation Theater Technology at Tahira Khanam's Paramedical Sciences Institute, Lawaypora, Srinagar. He enjoys writing and staying close to his children in far away lands.)

Graft, Malpractices in administration

Graft and malpractices galore in J&K State, while it is reported that an embarrassed J&K government has finally stepped in with a new mechanism to punish the tainted officers and weed-out the menace. As is usual when the problem surfaces in a major way, committees and commissions are set-up. A committee had reportedly been set-up to devise a mechanism for ‘removal of corrupt officials from the state administration’. It had decided to go tough against corruption, beginning with the launch of departmental inquiries against at least 250 tainted officers against whom prosecution has either been sanctioned or is under-process.

Add to it the latest, the reported tightening noose around the ‘tainted’ officials in the state administration, Jammu and Kashmir government, it is reported has charge-sheeted around sixteen officials – including a senior KAS officer allegedly involved in multi-crore land acquisition scam, besides recommending departmental action against 48 others. Far from setting at rest the concern being expressed widely, it is bound to add to the existent skepticism. The people in general take the formation of committees and commissions in a different light than how the government perceives such measures. And if an end result is estimated, more often than not, public perception is nearer the truth than what the governments think of devised measures!

Despite the public skepticism, the successive governments do not stop the drill of posing to be ‘Holier than Thou’. Such a dramatic presentation in the latest episode of another show of concern depicts Chief Secretary Madhav Lal overseeing the ‘Tamasha’ of booked officials being treated by what is noted in the book. The book of state laws that cover irregularities has been in the past found to have enough loopholes or enough safeguards for any tainted official to escape lawful action. Law as such is more known by its violation than its implementation.

Government in the present instance is exhibiting a flurry of activity. General Administration Department (GAD) has been reportedly put on the job of proceeding with granting sanction to prosecute all those officials, who have been booked by the state Vigilance organization in various graft cases. Vigilance commission bookings have had a parallel departmental action under Service Rules. The number of cases touted by the state—16 against whom proceedings are complete, 48 other against whom proceedings are going on is just the tip of the iceberg. The new regulation of proceeding with the prosecution sanction as well as the departmental action simultaneously against the erring officials, reportedly as a result of a circular issued by Chief Secretary’s office is supposed to be a serious measure in tightening the noose. While the concerned citizenry would welcome any move in the direction of bringing the guilty to book, the prevailing skepticism refuses to fade away. Too often such proposals, fresh measures have had a quiet burial over a period of time.

Government! Even if it is taken as sincere in its prosecution drive would still stand accused of half measures as the numbers being quoted are a bare fraction of the wide phenomenon. The miniscule numbers quoted by government sources and reported by the print media in the past few weeks can hardly impress anyone versed with the width and the depth of malpractices in the administration. While as in the current year 2011, sanction for prosecution of 48 officers has been accorded by GAD on the recommendations of the State Vigilance authorities, the
numbers quoted of last three years--38 prosecution sanctions in 2008, 45 in 2009, 52 in 2010 with an expected clearance of more than 60 cases this year, as per the sources quoted in the media makes hardly the numbers, government could boast about.

The malpractices are not limited to taking bribes and getting into gross irregularities while doing the job the government servants are supposed to do in lieu of what they stand legally paid for. Malpractices of varied nature are going on in indiscriminate spending by officialdom in a state where there is a serious resource crunch. The reported revelation in an answer to a query by PDP legislator Mushtaq Ahmad Shah in the recently concluded legislative assembly during question hour that Rs 26 crore has been spent on renovation of official residences in J&K State is shocking in a state with resource crunch. The money has been spent on renovation and repair of official residences of ministers, legislators, bureaucrats and employees in Jammu and Kashmir during the last two years. In a break-up of the money spent, it states that Rs 12.35 crore and Rs 13.83 crore expenditure has been incurred on their official residences during 2009-10 and 2010-11 in Jammu and Srinagar, adding that works like renovation of bathrooms, kitchens, sanitary fittings, electric fittings, painting etc have been carried out with this money.
It was also disclosed that the government also said that annual repair/ renovation works are executed through proper tendering process. “However, in case of urgent demand, certain works have been carried out departmentally /through piece workers,” it adds. Besides there is another source of concern—TA/DA bills and fuel of cabinet ministers, ministers of state and persons conferred with the status of minister of state during the last three years. In a written reply to a query of BJP legislator Ashok Khajuria, the state government revealed in the assembly that Rs 4 crore 78 lakhs expenditure has been incurred on TA/DA bills and petrol of ministers of the ruling coalition during 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12, while Rs 2.36 crore has been incurred on their TA/ DA, Rs 2.42 crore was spent on petrol for their vehicles. This non-productive expenditure is un-affordable, hence un-acceptable for the state with a serious resource crunch. It needs to be curtailed and brought to a level that could be affordable!

The political executive, the legislators, the higher officials have to tread with care and they may not be seen in poor light and get accused of behaving irresponsibly while expecting regulations to be abided by those in the lower rung of administration. The reform, moral practices have to be initiated at the very top in order to ensure compliance of official regulations and a cleaner administration. J&K State, it is widely recognized has a serious governance deficit. Watch dogs have in recent years commented adversely on the state, which simply cannot get its act right. To be fair, it may not be said that J&K is the lone culprit. Corruption, graft, malpractices abound in other states of the Union, and in other countries too; however in recent times, it has assumed serious proportions in J&K State. And much of what is reported is not beyond truth. The concerned citizenry stands aghast and is left wondering what else is in store as one type of malpractice follows another! Grasping for a breathing space in the stifling set-up, Aam Admi is asking ‘Is the enough of it ever enough for the officialdom’---any answers!

The Hubris

Thanks to Raman, now we know that the University of Kashmir management would rather buy new luxury vehicles than grant scholarships to deserving candidates

(Mr. Raman Sharma, 26, was born in Jammu city. He received his schooling in the Sri Ranbir Memorial School, Jammu, and graduated in political science and sociology from the Jammu University. Mr. Sharma is a free lance journalist and a social activist who has filed over 500 Right to Information (RTI) applications with the Central and J&K governments.)

Kashmir University Purchases Vehicles Over Rs 2 cr in last 5 yrs: RTI

Srinagar: The University of Kashmir spent over Rs two crore in purchase of vehicles but provided financial assistance of only Rs 59.09 lakh as scholarships and fellowships to students over last five years, an RTI query has revealed. As per figures provided by the University, more than Rs 2.16 crore were spent on purchase of vehicles, most of which were luxurious SUVs for use by officials. However, the university has spent only Rs 59.09 lakh on scholarships and fellowships to students in last five years. Among the 36 vehicles bought by the University is a bullet-proof car purchased for Rs 9.25 lakh. The application was filed by RTI activist Raman Sharma.

At the Crossroads of Tradition and Progress

Ladakhis face an imposing challenge: Should their children continue to live a nomadic life or get education for modern living?

Education or Literacy: Nomads at the Crossroads

Kunzes Dolma (Kashmir Images)

LEH-LADAKH: Tsering Gurmat is a school drop-out. Nothing uncommon there, except that Tsering had to drop out because of a new primary school established in the neighborhood. The irony is not lost on Tsering’s parents, who had hoped to give their children the education they didn’t themselves get.

In the remote Himalayan region of Changthang in Ladakh, many nomadic parents, wiser after a lifetime of harsh nomadic life in sub-zero temperatures, face the dilemma of whether to leave their children behind in the residential school or take them along in their seasonal trek across the hills with their livestock. The heavy dependence on children to share the work load for survival in the harsh, multi-tasked routine of grazing the livestock across the ranges of Changthang clashes with a growing realization that education is perhaps the key to a better, certainly easier, future for their children. A way of life that sustained them for 2,000 years may not quite be working as well now.

Nearly 150 Changpa families, nomadic pastoralists who trace their origins to Tibet, live alongside about 20 Tibetan refugee families in the four main villages of Korzok, Rupsho, Kharnak and Alkung close to the breathtaking Tso Moriri lake in eastern Ladakh. This vast grazing ecosystem in the Indian Trans-Himalaya stretches over 22,000 square kilometers. Livestock is the mainstay of the economy; the high-altitude, arid landscape in this cold desert supports little else.

Few families in Korzok lead a settled life. Situated 3 km from the northwest end of the Tso Moriri Lake at 15,075 ft, this small village is one of the highest permanent settlements in the world. The closest town, Duruk, is over 100 km away; the capital of Leh nearly 150 km. the region is cut off for about eight months a year due to snow.

The Changpas move camp nearly ten times a year locating green pastures for their yaks, sheep, goats and horses, their robos (small yak-hair tents) dotting the spectacular landscape. The animals’ produce offers an adequate, indeed sustainable, source of livelihood: Pashmina, or cashmere wool, is the most valuable; others include sheep wool, yak wool, curd, butter, and cheese. While children help with the numerous tasks, they are also relied upon to look after aging parents.
As recently as four decades ago, there were virtually no Government facilities for the Changpas in Korzok. In the 1970s, the Jammu & Kashmir State Government set up mobile schools to provide elementary education to children. It was the first generation exposed to mainstream education – and thoughtfully incorporated the nomadic way of life by moving with the families and animals every few months. A special tent would be set up for the school where children learnt to read and write in Urdu and their native Bodhi language. The enrollment was not spectacular, but it was a beginning.

Things changed when the government, zealous in its efforts to educate Indians across the vast and remote parts of the country, started constructing primary schools in remote locations. One such school promptly came up in Korzok; it was later upgraded to a middle school. Over the years, the government helpfully proceeded to set up a new Centralized Residential School in the Puga, intended to cater to all nomad families in the region. No mean feat in the barely connected arid grasslands, but it resulted in suspension of all mobile schools.

Standing at a crossroad,Tsering’s baffled parents had to make a choice: leave their child behind in the residential school for the required nine months in a year for a ‘mainstream’ education; or keep up the familiar and, so far sustainable, nomadic life that required children to help with the numerous family chores. They chose the latter; Tsering left school and moved on with the herd. Many children end up not being enrolled in school at all. Some families chose modern education and a more sedentary lifestyle: about 90 students aged four to sixteen now study at the Nomadic Residential school.

The opening of the school at Puga was a welcome step but they fear that their children won’t learn anything about nomadic life. Presently the many nomads wish for such a school which would move with them so that the children could learn their work as well as the modern education.

The Changpas are not an isolated case. South Asia has the world’s largest nomadic population. India alone is estimated to have over 60 million nomads, belonging to over 350 formally identified nomadic groups. Studies indicate that many children who never enroll in schools come from communities with livelihoods that require them to move from place to place.

India’s landmark Right to Education Act in 2009 committed the state to ensure that all children from 6-14 years of age have access to basic education. In line with this, under the central government’s flagship education scheme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, innovative means were tried to include children who were in particularly challenging circumstances. The implementation of these initiatives, however, leaves much to be desired.

In a recent review of the education schemes, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah reaffirmed his government’s commitment to utilizing the central schemes towards the goal of 100 percent enrolment of boys and girls at the primary level, against the current 65.67 per cent. “The Government is keen to revive the mobile school scheme in the state and help children of migratory population to receive education throughout the year without any break,” he said.

Traditionally, nomads have sustained a productive system that preserves the ecosystem while providing adequately for the populace in the region. Incorporating their rich knowledge base within the education system, the mobile schools of Jammu and Kashmir, by intent, are an innovative step in the right direction but severely lack effective implementation. The famed Ladakh Vision Document 2025, created after extensive deliberations in 2005, envisions a society where education would “build human resource in order to create a happy Ladakh, through the harmonious use of our natural resources, guided by our cultural resources.” Making that dream come true will take a lot more than the occasional review. Till then, concerned parents in Changthang will continue to balk at the choice they are forced to make for their children: the education of modern schools or the wisdom of their ancestors.

The Sorry State of SFC

The State Forest Corporation (SFC) is financially in doldrums and may close

‘Warped Policy, No Imagination’

Srinagar: Governments warped policy and lack of imagination are now leading the J&K State Forest Corporation on the brink of closure, well place sources told Kashmir Monitor. The Corporation that is already in red is on the brink of closure as the sales of timber have dwindled over the last few years due to the cheaper forms of wood available in the local market.

“We sell a foot of deodar wood at about Rs.2000 per foot. Now imported timber is available in the market for almost one fourth of the price. So it is but normal for people to go for the cheaper option”, an official of the State Forest Corporation told Kashmir Monitor on condition of anonymity.

Sources in the Corporation say as soon as the demand for SFC controlled timber was beginning to show a dip, the Government should have sensed the market mood and taken corrective measures. Sources say that despite a drop in demand the Government continues to keep the same supply levels which have resulted in massive stock piling at the SFC godowns.” Normally when a demand for a certain product dwindles, the supplier curbs the supply. But in Kashmir though the demand has dwindled, the supply is the same. The result is a massive overstock”, another official of SFC says.

Sources also complain that as a life saving measure the Government should itself have brought timber only from the SFC as it would have ensured the Corporation would continue to survive and the Government itself would have benefited from the high quality timber.

One of the other results of Governments lack of interest is the fact that despite finding fewer takers, the deodar felling continues as per Government norms. Sources say that with massive overstock of deodar available in godowns felling of tress for timber should be immediately stopped.

Privately senior officials of the State Forest Corporation admit that the Government should have itself gone into the imported timber business when it had started few years back. Officials say that due to government’s lack of vision, the entire timber market is now flooded with imported timber and as such the entire market has lost the balance. “There is no control over the quality and pricing. Everyone can become a timber dealer now. As such the market has crashed and margins have been affected. Government should have itself imported timber and sold it at a controlled price”, the officials admits.

Sources also say that most of the Corporation staff is now without work and very soon the Corporation would have to arrange salaries from somewhere as its coffers were running dry.

"Make It Safe"

The Rising Kashmir laments how careless driving and poor road conditions collide to create a Kashmiri disaster

Traffic Trial

Jammu and Kashmir is facing plethora of traffic problems - from the high accident rate to frequent traffic jams. Hardly a day passes off without a road accident in the state, often resulting in casualties. In Srinagar district alone, 193 people have lost their lives in over 1600 road accidents in the last three and a half years while the number of injured stands at 1500. According to top officials of traffic police department, every year there is 50 per cent increase in vehicular traffic.

The exponential increase in the number of vehicles is also accompanied with the increase in the number of violations like wrong parking. According to traffic police, there are over three lakh vehicles registered in Srinagar city, but during the peak tourist season, the number touches six lakh vehicles every day. Even as the vehicular traffic has increased manifold, the width of our roads remains the same as many decades back. This, among other factors, is making roads unsafe or too congested.

The traffic department has been struggling to regulate the traffic and check violations due to lack of adequate manpower. As per the officials, Traffic Police has a workforce of 250 personnel presently, which roughly puts one man in charge of around 5000 vehicles during the summer season when the tourist rush is at its peak in the valley. To manage such a huge rush of vehicles is a herculean task in itself.

We might still have made up for the dearth of manpower with infrastructure and technology, but unfortunately we are lagging on both fronts. We don’t even have functional traffic signals. Zebra crossings are not well maintained and are painted usually just before the darbar offices move to Srinagar. Most of the roads are full of potholes posing inconvenience to the people and sometimes even leading to accidents. According to a survey carried by Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, drivers are at fault in most of the accident cases. The findings hold true for J&K where the offenders often go scot free. The complaints about some traffic cops taking bribe to let the offenders free cannot be undermined. The traffic department must ensure discipline among its men and act tough against corrupt cops.

According to official figures, 284 accidents have been recorded involving Sumos and mini-busses while two-wheeler riders have been culprits in 236 accidents reported in last three years. The actual number may be even more since many cases of accidents go unreported unless some serious offence is committed. With its ‘Make It Safe’ campaign, Rising Kashmir is exploring the above and many other aspects of the traffic scenario in an effort to build consensus on the need for making the roads safer. Even if we can succeed in generating a meaningful debate about the issue, we will consider our campaign a successful beginning for the noble cause.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Cry For Good Governance

Jehangir adddresses an old problem with no solution in sight

(Mr. Jehangir Rashid Malik, 38, was born in Srinagar, and did his primary schooling at the Green Land Educational Institute in Hawal, Srinagar. He studies at the Sri Partap Higher Secondary School for classes XI and XII, and completed his Bachelor's degree through distance mode from the University of Kashmir. He subsequently graduated from the Media Education Research Centre (MERC) of the University of Kashmir with a Master's degree in Mass Communication and Journalism. As a journalist, he is associated with the Civil Society, a New Delhi magazine, and is the Editor of Kashmir Plus, a news and feature based portal of Srinagar. He began his career in journalism as a correspondent with the Kashmir Times, and later worked at the Daily Etalaat (English) and as a news editor with the Daily Khidmat (English). He has been awarded the Sanjoy Ghose Humanitarian Award for story writing by the Charkha Development Network, New Delhi, and has received fellowships from the Action Aid India, the Centre for Science and Environment, and the National Foundation for India (NFI), all based in New Delhi. This article is a part of series of articles to be published in connection with the fellowship offered to the writer by the NFI, New Delhi on the topic, ‘Drug addiction among females in Kashmir valley.’ In his leisure time, Mr. Malik likes watching cricket and listening to radio programs especially old melodies sung by legends, Mohammad Rafi and Kishore Kumar Ganguly.)

19 PSUs, Corporations Without Audit for Several Years

Srinagar: Barring Jammu and Kashmir Bank Limited, most of the 19 State Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) and Corporations have failed to complete the audit for more than 15 years and successive Governments have been sleeping over the issue.

At the same time, majority of the Boards working under the administrative control of different departments have not taken up the exercise of annual audit so far.

According to an official document, Jammu and Kashmir Bank Limited is the only State PSU whose accounts are upto date. Statutory Corporations like Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation (J&KSRTC), Jammu and Kashmir State Financial Corporation and Jammu and Kashmir State Forest Corporation have also failed to maintain their accounts for a long time.

The official document said that Jammu and Kashmir State Industries Corporation (SICOP) has earned the dubious distinction of being the front runner in non-compliance of the audit. It was for the financial year of 1988-89 that SICOP took up the audit and since then no audit has taken place.

Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation (J and K PCC) is second on the list with no audit taking place since the last two decades. Last time it was in 1990-91 that the audit was completed at J and K PCC. Jammu and Kashmir Agro Industries Development Corporation comes next on the dubious list with the audit missing since 18 years as it was in 1992-93 that the audit was taken up, the official document added.

"Three Corporations Jammu and Kashmir Minerals, Jammu and Kashmir State Forest Corporation and Jammu and Kashmir Horticultural Produce Marketing Corporation are without any audit since the last 17 years. Last time it was during the financial year of 1993-94 that these Corporations carried out the audit activities and since then it has been disbanded," said the document.

He added that Jammu and Kashmir Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Classes Development Corporation has failed to take up the audit activity since the last 16 years. The Corporation took up the audit for the financial year 1994-95 and since then no audit has taken place. Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation took up the audit activity for the financial year 1995-96 and over the last 15 financial years no audit has taken place.

"Jammu and Kashmir Cable Car Corporation and Jammu and Kashmir Handloom Development Corporation are without any audit for the last 14 years. Both these Corporations took up the audit for the financial year 1996-97 and since then no audit has been carried out," the document said.

It added that Jammu and Kashmir Cements and Jammu and Kashmir Handicrafts (S and E) Corporation are without any audit since last 13 years adding that last time both it was in 1997-98 that the PSU and Corporation carried out the audit activity. Jammu and Kashmir Women's Development Corporation is without any audit over the last 12 years with the last audit done for the financial year of 1998-99.

"State Industrial Development Corporation (SIDCO) is without the audit since 1999-2000 and the Corporation has failed to update its accounts since the last 11 years. Police Housing Corporation carried out the audit activity last time in 2000-01 and since then no audit has been taken up," said the document.

He said that Power Development Corporation and Jammu and Kashmir Industries are without the audit since the last nine years with the activity taken up last time in 2001-02.

"It was for the financial year of 2004-05 that JKSRTC took up the audit activity and the audit is missing since the last six financial years. Jammu and Kashmir State Financial Corporation took up the audit activity in 2007-08 and since the last three financial years no audit has been taken up," the document said.

He added that audit could not be taken up due to delay in appointment of statutory auditors, non-compilation of draft accounts by the PSUs on time and delay on part of auditors in completing their assignments on time.

"The State Finance Department is closely monitoring progress on the roadmap that it has provided to all the State PSUs to complete the audit of backlog years during the current financial year," it said.

The official document said that no audit whatsoever has been done with respect to Jammu and Kashmir State Advisory Board for Development of Gujjars and Bakarwals, Jammu and Kashmir State Advisory Board for Development of Pahari Speaking People, Jammu and Kashmir State Advisory Board for the Development of Kissans, Jammu and Kashmir State Advisory Board for Other Backward Classes and Jammu and Kashmir State Advisory Board for Welfare and Development of Scheduled Castes.

"The audit is missing for the last nine years of Jammu and Kashmir Housing Board (J and K HB) as the activity was last time taken up in 2001-02. For Khadi and Village Industries Board (KVIB), the last audit was done for the financial year of 2006-07. For Jammu and Kashmir Board for Muslim Specified for Wakfs and Specified Wakf Properties, the audit is missing for one year with the audit of 2009-2010 taken up last time," the document said.

It added that delay in audit with respect to KVIB and J and K HB is due to the procedural delays and non-deputation of audit teams by the Accountant General.

The Brave Ones

Javed pitches for the visually impaired people

(Mr. Javed Ahmad Tak, 37, was born in Bijbehara in the Anantnag district. He received his schooling from Government schools in Bijbehara, and his B.Sc. degree from the Government Degree College in Anantnag. Unfortunately, at the age of 21 he became a victim of a terrorist bullet which hit his spine and disabled him for the rest of his life. However, he overcome mental and physical odds to complete his Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Kashmir, and also completed certificate courses in Human Rights and Computers from the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). Although wheel-chair bound, Mr. Tak is recognized as a leader who has relentlessly and with extreme passion taken up the cause of disabled people in J&K, seeking full citizen rights guaranteed under the J&K Disability Act but never implemented in the past. He is a founder-member of numerous NGO's dealing with issues and sensitizing public about challenges faces by physically handicapped people in Kashmir. He has received numerous awards and citations for his selfless work and has attended numerous workshops on disability rights around the country.)

White Cane Day

Today marks the ability of blind people to walk safely on city streets. This day also highlights the progress of blind from poverty and isolation to full participation in community life. The white cane is a symbol of independence and a symbol of the dignity and capacity of blind people. Blind people need the understanding of the public. They need society to recognize their abilities and to give them a chance to demonstrate their talents.

White Cane Day is a time for blind and people with normal vision to come together in support of the movement toward full integration.Visually impaired do not want to be dependent on their families or on society. What keeps many blind people in dependency is not so much the blindness itself, but the lack of opportunity. Blind people need the chance to become educated, to develop their own interests and abilities, and the opportunity to seek employment on a fair and equal basis with others.

Blind seek understanding and recognition of their ability and desire to live and work alongside others in their communities. We have supporting laws and guiding rules to overcome these challenges or minimize the problems but the implementation at ground level is needed. JK Persons with Disabilities Act guarantees equal opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full participation for the persons with disabilities but it is unfortunate that so far the Act is on papers only and for 2 lakh blind people Jammu Kashmir state has no schooling facilities. Mostly they are dependent on the so called social security schemes which fetch them nothing more than Rs 400/- which can't fulfill their needs. 

On May 25, 2001, Erik Weihenmayer became the only blind man in history to reach the summit of the world's highest peak - Mount Everest. Eric is the first blind person to climb Mount Everest. Eric's achievement is symbolic of the desire of blind people throughout the world to pursue their dreams and ambitions.

In the same way Tariq Bashir a blind person from Andoora Shangus of district Anantnag completed Masters in History and qualified Kashmir Civil services (Prelims) exams but he was not allowed to take the facility of scribe in (Mains). Still Tariq didn’t gave up and qualified 10+2 Screening test and got through the interview conducted by JK Public Service Commission and got appointed as Lecturer History in School Education Department. Tariq is presently posted in District Institute of Education and Trainings Anantnag and is successfully working there.

Such individuals can become an example for others. On this day we salute the courage of such men and women who don't let disability come in their way to successs.

Does the SAC stand for the State Accountability Commission or "Sleeping and Closed"

Fayyaz says that the Law Secretary is sleeping over personnel requisitions and all key posts are vacant in the SAC

(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 working 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.)

Govt Showcases SAC But Does Not Have Staff For It

Srinagar: Omar Abdullah-led coalition government may rightfully claim credit for reviving the defunct Jammu and Kashmir State Accountability Commission (SAC) with the appointment of its Chairman and a Member. However, Law Department's cold-shouldering of repeated requisitions from the SAC and failure to provide staff to the accountability watchdog have raised serious doubts about the Government's will to make the Commission functional.

SAC was created in 2003 after Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's PDP-Congress coalition government made a legislation with the support of then principal opposition party National Conference in 2002. It took Mufti's government nearly two years to appoint SAC's first Chairman in 2005. However, within a year, Justice RP Sethi tendered his resignation due to a host of reasons. Later, two of its members---G L Raina and Mohammad Muzaffar Jan--- conducted some business but the Commission became fully non-functional with the retirement of its last member, namely Justice (retd) Muzaffar Jan, in 2008-09.

After over two years of suspended animation, SAC got a fresh lease of life when Omar Abdullah's government recommended Justice (retd) Yash Pal Nargotra as Chairman and Justice (retd) Hakeem Imtiyaz Hussain as its Member on July 30, 2011. Governor accordingly issued the warrants of appointment on August 12, 2011. Both the appointees were sworn in amid fanfare by the coalition government on August 21. In the last nearly two months, SAC has been making repeated requisitions to the state Law Secretary, Ghulam Hassan Tantray, for appointment of staff on key positions but none of the communications has yielded anything.

A private building, hired for the SAC's summer headquarters, in Sonwar area is being demanded back by its owner. Chairman and Member have got the eviction deferred by personal obligation. Their requests of establishing the headquarters at the old Legislature Complex, where J&K State Information Commission (SIC) has recently set up office, have also been ignored by the state government. Even the vital infrastructure, like computers, furniture and vehicles, has not been provided.

SAC has formally communicated to the Law Department that almost all of its key positions were lying vacant and the posts of Secretary, Deputy Secretary and Assistant Registrar were manned by "ineligible persons drawn from Law Department". It has pointed out that it needed eligible incumbents, particularly from judiciary and J&K Police. There has been no action by the state government.

Presently, a Special Secretary from Legal Service of the state government is working as Secretary and a Deputy Secretary from Legal Service as Deputy Secretary of SAC. Besides, there is an Assistant Registrar from Law Department in Jammu. Three Junior Assistants have been hired from offices of Public Prosecutors. One female computer operator, engaged by a Deputy Commissioner on contract basis and eight Orderlies, four each in Kashmir and Jammu, are also manning positions at SAC. Authorities at SAC insist that none of these was holding a substantive post as an eligible incumbent.

While the substantive posts of Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Principal Secretary to Chairman, as also both posts of Deputy Registrar and both posts of Public Prosecutor are lying vacant, SAC does not have any official on the post of Financial Advisor cum Chief Accounts Officer. It does not end there. The Commission does not have an individual for one post of PA-cum-Stenographer, both posts of Stenographer and one-odd post of Section Officer. Besides, all four posts of Judgment Writer, all four posts of Computer Operator, both posts of Senior Assistant and both posts of Head Assistant are also lying unmanned.

Under the J&K State Accountability Commission Act, Government of Jammu & Kashmir is supposed to create an independent investigation agency for verification of complaints, inquiry and investigation of the matters brought before the SAC. A senior IPS officer of the rank of Additional DGP has to head the investigation agency with two DIGs to head it at Provincial level in Kashmir and Jammu. It also needs two SSPs, two Dy SPs, four Inspectors, four Sub Inspectors and other subordinate staff. Not a single official has been provided to it by the state Home Department/ Police Headquarters.

Informed sources revealed to Early Times that after failing to get any substantive response from Law Secretary Tantray in the last two months, SAC has now taken up the matter directly with Chief Minister's Office. Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Bharat Bhushan Vyas, is understood to have assured the Commission that necessary staff and infrastructure would be provided to it "within a few days". Sources said that Mr Vyas, as well as DGP, Mr Kuldeep Khoda, were called to the SAC headquarters and made aware of the "extreme steps" the Commission could take by law.

The Commission has separately taken up the matter with Registrar General of J&K High Court. Both, DGP as well as J&K High Court authorities, have reportedly made it clear that the eligible staff would be provided as soon as a formal requisition would be received from Law Department.

Minister incharge Law & Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Mohammad Sagar, did not respond to phone calls when efforts were made to seek his comment and learn as to why the state Government had not provided staff and infrastructure to SAC.

Is the Silk Industry Dying or Simply Rejuvenating in a Different Form?

It all depends on whether one can trust the outlook of the Government as expressed by the Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Ghulam Hassan Mir. Two reports

Kashmir’s Famed Silk Industry Dies Silent Death

Muddasir Ali (Greater Kashmir)

Srinagar: Once flagship industry of Jammu and Kashmir, silk rearing is in shambles today. The factors that silenced the spinning wheels at Kashmir Filatures here are varied, officials say.

Established in 1897 with Italian reeling basins, the Filatures were transferred to JK Industries Ltd in 1963. With an installed capacity of 584 reeling basins, the unit once employed more than 2000 workers.

For long, the mulberry silk produced in the Valley was taken to faraway western countries. Historians say a century ago Kashmir had a “dynamic silk trade.” In 1940s, the precious silk yarn was even exported to the entire British Empire.

“Silk industry was a main revenue earner for the state during the Maharaja rule. Kashmir had its indigenous races of silkworm and would produce best quality cocoons in the world,” said an official associated with the sector.

A cursory look at statistics show that during heydays the cocoon production had reached above 15 lakh kilograms in 80s.

Even, officials say, when the silk sector in France got almost wiped out due to a disease to the silkworm seed, the material was imported from Kashmir to revive the France industry.

But then the time changed for the worse for the Kashmir industry. The cocoon production dipped to 60000 kgs in late 90s. Government’s negligence towards development of the industry, “political interference” and low market price made farmers disinterested resulting in fall of once booming industry.

Last year Government’s decision to close down JKI-owned Kashmir Filatures, which was left defunct for almost a decade, put a lid on any of its revival plans.

Another major blow to the sector was the mismanagement vis-a-vis operational costs.

“From time to time more than the required manpower was employed due to political interference. The filatures could not handle the operational costs but nobody thought about the production losses. It silently pushed silk rearing to the edge,” officials said.

The downfall of the industry had already taken roots. From hundreds of reeling basins the units got shrunk to 31 in 2008-09. The raw silk production has been witnessing distressing trends in recent past—8.2 metric tones in 2004-05, 21.2 MT in 07-08. But the production slipped down to 17.1 MT in 2008-09.

“Where is our own indigenous silkworm race now?” officials ask. “Past two decades proved to be the last nail in the coffin for this sector. Government’s negligence to address the causes that led to the diminishing of the booming business, lack of long term policy, infrastructure ensured that the sector is gasping for breath today,” said a senior official.

A report by the State Finance Commission has only proved that negligence by the authorities had cost dearly to the industry.

In its report submitted to the government the SFC has reported the unit is closed and has no potential for survival and it merits disposal through open auction.

“Kashmir Filature Solina having 70 kanals of land totally unutilized can fetch a handsome price ranging from Rs 70 to Rs 100 crore. The money must be utilized by the corporation in its attempt at revival, employment and generation and further extension,” the report recommends.

Reportedly the land belonging to the sick units is being sold at throwaway prizes to government departments. More than 20 percent of their land has been given away to Public Service Commission, Sales Tax department and other departments.

Sources trace the genesis of decline of Kashmir Filatures to de-monopolization of the industry and later its bifurcation into Kashmir Filatures and Sericulture department.

The de-monopolization paved way for filatures from other states like Mysore, Bengal and Karnataka to come to buy quality Kashmiri cocoons at prices which were too high for the Kashmir filatures, resulting in decrease in raw material supply to it and the closure of its working basins.

Government’s reluctance to increase the price of the cocoons for almost two decades was another blow to the farming community, officials said.

“Per kilogram cost of cocoon was not increased for almost two decades by the government. A kilogram of A-Grade cocoon was purchased from the farmers for Rs 180 till 2009. Now the rates are Rs 210 per kg, far below what can attract a grower towards the sector. In open market the rates even touch Rs 600 per kg,” sources said.

“J&K is the only state which produces the best quality Bivoltile silk. But the irony is that less than 30 percent of cocoons produced indigenously are used for silk production locally and the remaining production is brought by the traders from outside states,” officials said.

Experts believe invasion of low cost silk yarn from China only consumed the Kashmir industry. There was no policy framed to tackle the invasion, officials argue. The sector has witnessed deterioration to the extent that the carpet industry of the valley depends on imports of silk.

However officials at the Sericulture Department, which deals with cocoon production, Mulberry tree plantation on which the silkworm feeds, argue everything is not lost. The cocoon production, they said is witnessing an upward trend for past few years-- 738 metric tones during 2008-09, 810 metric tones during 2009-10 and 860 metric tones for the last fiscal. The demand for the Bivoltile silk at the country level is above 5000 metric tones.

But they argue it is the private sector which has kept the industry going. “It has brought competition which is proving beneficial for the farmers too,” officials said.

Minister for Agriculture, Ghulam Hassan Mir, said government is putting efforts for reviving the sector.

The department distributes seeds and mulberry plants free of cost to farmers, and provides them additional Rs seven for each plantation.

“We also provide financial support of Rs 50000 to each family associated with the sector for developing infrastructure for cocoon production besdies insurance cover to the family,” Mir said.

He said the department is also helping the farmers with the latest drying techniques which helps maintain the quality of the product.

“The production as well as the cost of the cocoon has gone up this year. It is a healthy trend,” Mir said.

Silk and Jobs: Kashmir Eyes Two Birds With One Stone

Binoo Joshi (IANS)

In a bid to revive its silk industry and create employment opportunities for youth, the Jammu and Kashmir government has embarked on a novel idea of allotting barren pieces of land to unemployed youth for mulberry plantation.

Agriculture and Sericulture Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir told IANS: "There is a crunch of state land in Jammu and Kashmir; so we have decided to utilise any patch available to us."

The idea is to utilise space on road-dividers, roadsides or any piece of land by planting mulberry trees, on which silk-bearing cocoons are reared.

According to Mir, the department will form various groups comprising youngsters from villages and allot them land. "They will be provided with mulberry plants and other support."

Rehmat Ali, fresh out of school, is excited to be participating in the scheme.

"I am sure that this small beginning will lead us to a big success. Maybe the youth involved in this scheme can take Kashmir's silk to the top," Ali, hailing from Badgam's Magam town, told IANS.

The life-cycle of a silk worm has four stages -- the egg, silk worm, pupa and the moth.

The silk worm feeds on mulberry leaves and forms a covering around it by secreting a protein-like substance through its head. This stage is called cocoon, the desirable stage for silk producers.

The cocoons raised by farmers are delivered to the factory, called a filature, where the silk is unwound from the cocoons and the strands are collected into skeins.

The department plans to buy the product from these men, thus making them earn money.

"This is an innovative idea to provide employment to youth. The department has started this scheme on the 24 km road to Tangmarg, which is near tourist resort Gulmarg," the minister said.

Gradually, the department plans to use land on the roadside and on dividers across the state.

"We require more leafage for rearing cocoon and I am hopeful this idea will help us in a small way to start with," noted the minister.

A group of 30 men have already started planting mulberry plants. Riaz Ahmad, a science graduate, is one of them.

The 24-year-old was desperate to get a job. Now, he is part of the first group of men to plant and take care of mulberry plants.

"I am happy to be a part of this scheme. Though we will be earning less in the beginning, it is better than sitting idle at home and becoming a burden on old parents, Ahmad told IANS on telephone.

Mir said that in the beginning, "this scheme will employ 150 men".

"This will help in increasing the silk production and also create jobs for youth." There is a need to revive the silk industry in the state which is facing "not so good times". Kashmiri silk is known for its international quality.

According to official statistics, the state produced 1.6 million kg of silk in 1960 while the current production level has dropped down to 900,000 kg.

Saffron Cultivation on Decline

Afzal says that farmers are shifting to other crops as the state government fails to come to their rescue

Saffron Cultivation, Production Faces Decline in Kashmir

M. Afzal Sofi (Kashmir Monitor)

Srinagar: For the last 20 years Adbul Qadir had been cultivating saffron in his 10 kanals of land in Budgam district; but the consistent heavy losses during last few years has forced him to shift to farming of a different crop.

“The cultivation of saffron costs around Rs 15,000 per kanal and profit was much less than that,” said Qadir, adding that had he not shifted to other crops he would have starved.

Qadir is one among the hundreds of the farmers who have switched over from saffron farming to other crops as former was no longer commercially viable for them.

Saffron is cultivated in Jammu and Kashmir mainly in Pampore, Pulwama, Budgam and Kashtiwar. But the cultivable area as well as production has reduced by half in a decade’s time.

According to the records of Agriculture Ministry, the area under saffron cultivation has declined from 5,707 hectares in 1997-98 to 3,010 hectares in 2006-07.

Also the productivity of the saffron has decreased from 16 metric tons to 8.5 metric tons with the average crop yield of 2.32 kilograms per hectare.

The experts believe that if adequate steps are not taken saffron cultivation may face grave threat in the state.

“Productivity is declining at a very fast rate an so far government and its concerned agencies including the authorities at SKUAST-K have done precious little to save this expensive spice,” said Ghulam Hassan an agriculturist.

The farmers blame illegal imports, adulteration of saffron and non-seriousness of the authorities for the declining production as well as their own interest in saffron farming.

Farmers claim that every year large quantity of saffron is illegally imported into Kashmir from other countries at very cheap rates which has brought the industry to huge loss.

“Saffron from other countries of the world is sold here under the name of Kashmiri saffron due to which the rates of the original Kashmiri saffron have gone down and keep on fluctuating throughout the year, which ultimately result in huge losses to us,” said Qadir, adding that a year back one ‘tola’ (12 grams) of saffron would cost around Rs 3000 but this year the rate has reduced to much less than half.

“Adulterated saffron is also being sold in the market by some traders which has downgraded the image of Kashmir saffron in the national and international market,” he lamented.

Farmers also said that government took some steps in preventing illegal import of saffron last year and many were arrested but no substantial change occurred as the authorities couldn’t sustain their action for long.

Pertinently Kashmiri saffron is considered to be world’s best saffron for its long red stamens with distinctive aroma, color and flavor.

The other reasons for low production of the saffron, the experts say are ignorance of farmers about cultivation techniques and climate changes.

“The recycling of saffron farms after every 4-5 years is necessary; farmers here have not recycled their farms for long periods now which can be the reason for low production and quality of saffron here,” said an agriculturist.

He also said that pollution (mainly due to cement plants) in the Khrew belt of Srinagar district has led to the scant rainfall and snowfall in the region which has affected the production of saffron in main region of Pampore to a large extent.

The farmers also claim that not much has been done by the government even after the Saffron Bill passed by Jammu and Kashmir Assembly in 2006, which was aimed at saving the land under saffron cultivation and regulating the market of saffron at national and international levels and imposing curbs on the adulteration of saffron.

However, in the recently concluded autumn session of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, Agriculture Minister, Ghulam Hassan Mir while admitting the reduction in saffron production informed that with the implementation of National Mission on Saffron for economic revival of J&K saffron, government is expected to increase the production of saffron to 5 kilogram per hectare.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Women's Role in the Society at a Time When Violence Against Women Continues

Shafiq reports on an interesting meeting held among women in Gulmarg recently. However, the reality of violence against women looms large as described in an editorial in the Rising Kashmir (two reports)

(Mr. Shafiq Mir, 38, was born in Rajouri district. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Jammu, and completed a diploma in journalism. Mr. Mir is a full time working journalist, who in the past worked at the Indian Express, and the Greater Kashmir, where he served as a bureau chief. He is presently a free lancer.)

Now Women to Resolve Kashmir Issue

In the past 63 years, many people in Jammu Kashmir, India and Pakistan made their fortunes in Kashmir issue industry. This is also fact that many did lose their each and everything in this industry too. Mostly the beneficiaries were those who led this issue and who followed them blindly were generally losers. On both the sides of LOC each political party have been contesting elections on this issue only. None of the manifesto of any political party can be seen missing Kashmir issue in the list of their other promises in the past 63 years of state elections held on both the sides of line of actual control.

Not only political parties, the people belonging to different professions also tried their luck in this industry. From academicians to cultural professionals and poets to singers, all tried their luck in different shades and garbs with the promise that their profession can only resolve the Kashmir issue. In fact, the home ministries and other intelligent agencies of both the countries have engaged some selected people on special financial packages and they are used as voice of civil society when ever they need it. The trend got momentum or the industry of selected civil groups flourished in the past one decade after both the countries were forced by silent hands of US administration to build good relations. These civil groups are in the good books of the establishments of both the countries. And when ever any such meet or conference is organized, with in minutes, the members of these groups get clearance of travelling papers from their respective governments. What they do in these conferences ? just to have an outing, get together, wine and dine and finally a group photograph before press and an announcement of the next meeting.

In the past one decade, different groups have belonging to both the sides of LOC have enjoyed lot in the name of Kashmir issue. From singers to poets and academicians to traders and some professional dancers have also offered their services to resolve the vexed Kashmir problem. These groups have always been posing like the brains and architects of their respective countries but that fact remains that no free thinker of any side was ever allowed to participate in any such conference.

Now, the government sponsored women of both the countries have also made their space in this industry. On the same patron, a group of women of both the countries made their program of outing in the name of Kashmir issue. And they are going to meet at famous tourist resort GULMARG in Kashmir on 27 of September 2011. The group comprising about 25 women belonging to both the countries will stay at Gulmarg for three days which the arrangements have been made by the silent hands government. Indian group led by its director Sushuba Barve said that the three day conference titled “Women’s Role in Society: Issues of Mutual Concern” will be attended by 45 participants from Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan administered Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

The selection of the venue for meeting speaks itself the seriousness of these women regarding the issue they are going to address and resolve. The Gulmarg is known for famous world tourist resort. It is the common sense that when ever any one goes Gulmarag the intention is always outing and enjoyment. There fore no body should make any expectation from any such group and so called civil society.

Horrible Incident
(Rising Kashmir)

The incident at Kanigund Budgam is heartbreaking. Waheeda Akhtar was attacked by her husband with a sharp edged weapon leaving her half-dead with at least 250 stitches all over her body. The incident came to light on last Friday when Waheeda Akhter approached the State Commission for Women to seek justice and register a case against her husband. The incident took place during the intervening night of September 25 when Waheeda was asleep and her husband allegedly pounced upon her with a sharp edged weapon causing injuries to her several body parts.

This kind of inhuman behaviour is least accepted from society which consider itself civilised and cultured. Throughout the year we hear symposia and seminars organised either by the state government or by the civil society. In these programmes, the woman is debated, decided and her role in the society is glorified; how important she is for the welfare and well being of society is emphasised. Unfortunately, after witnessing such horrible instances, we are forced to think: what is the purpose of organising such programmes when the message is hardly put across. What experts and speakers say or recommend in these programmes is never practised. Will it be an exaggeration to call these programmes as ornamental in nature and ritualistic in performance? The matter of fact is that the situation of Kashmiri woman is pathetic. It is unimaginable to recount the physical, psychological and emotional horror our womenfolk is under. What is more worrying is the growing tendency among the females to end their lives under extreme social and psychological pressures. The important question is: who is responsible for the mess women are caught into: society, patriarchal set up, political and social leadership or those women who are in position to contribute actively for the upliftment but they don’t.

Women in political circles have failed to work collectively for the betterment of women, who are otherwise suffering silently. While at the centre and state levels political parties led by some prominent women leaders are pressing hard for Women’s Reservation Bill, which as per them, will herald a new era and will go a long way in emancipating the women, it is to be seen whether passing such a bill will actually help the women to achieve what they are desiring or craving for. In modern discourse, the emancipation of woman has been reduced to male bashing and gender specific issue which isn’t the case. There is a need to completely dislodge this notion and treat women empowerment as humanistic issue. Furthermore Waheeda case is enough to move the police from the deep slumber they are in and perform their constitutional duty of bringing the culprit to book.

"Kashmir's Problem is not Poverty but Poor Human Development"

Arjimand, a rare intellectual among Kashmir's commentators, discusses the politics of poverty

(Mr. Arjimand Hussain Talib, 34, was born in Srinagar. He is a columnist/writer and a development professional who matriculated from Tyndale Biscoe Memorial School in 1991. He subsequently graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Engineering from Bangalore University and has a diploma in journalism as well. He is an alumni of the International Academy for Leadership, Gummerbach, Germany and has worked with UNESCO, Oxfam and ActionAid International in some seven countries in Asia and Africa. Arjimand writes regular weekly columns for the Greater Kashmir and The Kashmir Times since 2000 on diverse issues of political economy, development, environment and social change and has over 450 published articles to his credit. He is presently an advisor in international development and based in Beijing.)

Amid India’s Poverty Debate, We Must Redefine Ours as Well

We have got some questions to answer.

No 1: Is poverty in J&K as serious as statistics project?
No 2: As India debates the Rs 32 per person per day poverty line, what do we have to say?
No 3: As the new below poverty line (BPL) census is underway, using new indicators, including ‘caste’, where would we stand?

The idea of poverty is always relative. The questions of purchasing power in defining poverty are not straightforward. India’s poverty debate, like elsewhere, will always have to address inconsistencies. Despite tremendous economic development, poverty line in China continues to be a matter of debate. When it comes to J&K, our poverty figures and ground realities are paradoxical. We need to address that paradox head-on.

Inflating one’s poverty always pays – states get more money under a range of state and central schemes. People get more benefits – incentives, jobs and much more. Stating plain facts pays in the longer term. Importantly, that saves money from being wasted, like we have been doing in the name of pursuing misdirected poverty alleviation programs.

Stating of plain facts first requires political will. That requires robust information collection as well - something that is not easy in J&K. People generally don’t tell the truth about their incomes and sources. But that does not mean the state cannot have a mechanism of sound information collection.

Sound benchmarks – guided by socio-economic rationale rather than political interests, could make it possible to arrive at realistic figures. Most countries do that.

J&K’s economic survey of 2010-11 puts our BPL number at 24.21 lakh people or 21.63 per cent of our total population.

Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative’s Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) states that out of 1.22 crore people in J&K in 2007, 54 lakh, or 43.8 per cent, lived in poverty. This is the index which is globally highly respected for its accuracy. In J&K’s context, however, its figures are highly questionable.

Like in Kashmir, there is no uniform measure of poverty in rest of India either. The Planning Commission, Arjun Sengupta Report and the N.C. Saxena Committee all cite different numbers of poverty. But now that the government of India is seeking to address the discrepancies, we need to do the same.

There are credible reasons why J&K’s poverty is likely to be less than projected. Many families that hold BPL cards to get subsidized rations are normally far above BPL, and can afford market purchasing. Our minimum wage is another indicator. Our unskilled labor rate is now Rs 300-Rs 350 per day - about 200 per cent more than the general rate in rest of India.

NREGA scheme is such a mismatch with our rural realities that if there was no “special arrangement” between the state agencies and those “who work”, this scheme may just not take off. We can’t find local domestic helps anymore. Almost all our menial jobs are done by imported workers from outside the state.

The most likely reason for all this is that people have better and alternative economic opportunities. The Rs 300 minimum daily wage means our poverty line is different.

The fundamental reason why we need to revisit our poverty figures is that we need to target our public spending – especially those of the centrally sponsored schemes – better. NREGA, for instance, could be restructured to do more meaningful jobs. Indira Awas Yojana could be redesigned. There are hardly any homeless people in our state. Homes built under this scheme are generally used as cow sheds or resting rooms by powerful rural elite.

The acknowledgement of the fact that Kashmir’s problem is not abject poverty but poor human development will be useful. The money which goes waste in misdirected poverty alleviation schemes could be better utilised in building quality public infrastructure. We need to drastically improve our primitive health care facilities.

Quality of education needs to be improved. Most rural areas do not have safe drinking water. Acute lack of other basic infrastructure, like roads, electricity, etc. impedes human development.

Money redirected from misguided poverty alleviation schemes could also be used to enhancing productive employment of our youth.

Kashmir’s economic foundations are sound primarily because of its quality natural resources and human skills. The last 20 years of conflict has not aggravated poverty, it has impeded economic development. The fundamental reason being that the last 20 years of conflict coincided with the economic boom that economic reforms brought to the developing world.

An honest definition of our poverty and its extent will pay us in the long term.

Sufiana Taste

Iqbal pitches for the local folk music

(Mr. Iqbal Ahmad, 49, 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.)

The Magic Called Sufiana

Despite the resonance of Bollywood and Hollywood songs in the valley, Kashmiri songs are gaining currency as they can be heard playing blaringly loud at shops, vehicles, and on mobile phones etc. And what is interesting to bask is that after showing reluctance, the youngsters are not only shaking a leg to local tunes, but to a great deal, have begun to understand the significance of Sufi songs as well.

If music dealers are to go by, then Kashmiri songs have off-late struck a great chord with musical taste of a huge chunk of youngsters besides being all time favorite of elders here. What can be termed a proverbial “icing on the cake” is that apart from creating ripples here, Kashmiri songs are becoming very popular outside the state too. The growing popularity has also provided employment to those, associated with the music industry besides providing much needed platform for many upcoming talented singers, who have introduced new musical trends, instruments and variety of tunes to the local songs. Their tireless efforts along with teachings of veteran singers has not only overshadowed Bollywood and western songs, but to a great extent, has revived the “lost touch” of Kashmiri songs.

It is true, that for a certain period of time, Kashmiri singers had to face hard times as popularity of Kashmiri songs was on the verge of reaching its ebb. But strenuous and indefatigable endeavors of young and traditional singers revived the fame and pristine glory of local songs here. There was a time, when music through concerts and ‘Mehfili-sama’ was a huge hit with the Kashmiri’s as the strumming’s emanating from different musical instruments used to directly permeate though their bodies and the atmosphere used to get suffused by sacred lyrics of revered Sufis.Such was the soul-soothing effect of the Sufi songs that it always left an indelible impact on listeners. But, with the passage of time as Bollywood and western songs forayed into Kashmir, Sufiana concerts received a serious blow as listeners; particularly youngsters switched their choice to latest entries which directly posed a serious threat to the Kashmiri culture as Sufiana music is considered as one of the most important components of Kashmiri culture. But, with the passage of time, Kashmiri’s begun to shun the Bollywood and western songs as erotic content, made it extremely difficult for family viewing and owing to ‘non-sensical’ lyrics, listeners turned to soul-enthralling experience of local songs. As a result, a ray of hope appeared bright as youngsters not only began to enjoy traditional songs, but slowly but surely began to understand significance of Kashmiri culture Encouragingly, if newspaper reports are to be believed, about 77 percent Kashmiri’s love listening to Kashmiri music. ‘Ghazal’, ‘Chaker te Rouf, Wanwon and Sufi lyrics has become a rage. Notably, foreigners have been inviting the local musicians to the hotels and house boats to perform the live musical concerts as there has been a growing demand for Kashmiri music at the tourist destinations. Sufiana Kalaam is primarily vocal, choral music. It is performed by an ensemble of four to seven musicians and all musicians sing in unison except the main singer (leader of the ensemble) who sings the main lines of the song.

The poetry associated with Sufiana kalaam is in two languages, Persian and Kashmiri. The favourite poems are those of the great Sufi mystics of Persia and Kashmir such as Hafiz, Jallauddin Rumi, Jami, OmarKhayam,AmirKhusro,RasulMir,NeameSeab, Wahab Khar, Shamas Fair, Rahim Sahib Soporietc.Kashmiri music has got its long interesting history, its first evidence is found in the archaeological findings of Harwan, which dates back to first century AD. It was perhaps during the period of Kushans that music was introduced here, because we got the first evidences of musical instruments and dancing poses in a series of tiles. On face one of the tiles, a group of musicians can be noticed play¬ing various musical instruments.

Although the tabla is quite visible on it but Vena and some other instrument are a bit obscurely stamped. Another tile depicts a dancer wearing big earnings and holding a piece of a Kashmiri shawl in her hands. The dancer is viewed holding her right leg up and gyrating towards left. The male dancer, whom we call ‘Bachikut’ a prominent part of Kashmiri musical concert, particularly at marriage ceremonies looks a accurate imitation of this figure. The motif has been placed in low relief on the tile in a rectangular frame. Another tile shows a dancer beating a drum, which is placed to the front of the figure with the right hand holding some sort of a stick.

The musician looks using both hands in playing of the drum. Such motifs on these tiles have added new information to the historians of music and take the music back to the Kushan period. Kalhana, while tracing the antiquity of music, writes that musical parties were earlier held at religions places; during the period of Raja Jaluk about one hundred dancers were attached to Jasti Ishwar temple to entertain huge crowds. In ‘Rajtarangni’ Kalhana records an incident of Lalitaditya that once on his way to hunt¬ing, he saw two young girls singing. Enchanted by their melodious voice, he stopped his horse and inquired about the purpose of their singing, the young girls told him that they belong to a group of professional singers and had came there to practice their art. It is said that the art of music got promoted in the ‘Darbar’ of Rajas and Maharajas. The Raja used to hold meeting of musicians, where different artists demonstrating their art. ‘Deepa Mela, Rat in Mala, ane JNurp Mala have been famous singers of their times. Budshah too pro¬moted this art and introduced sev¬eral new instruments whom he had adopted from central Asia.

The art blossomed during the pe¬riod of Chaks, Sultan Hussian Shah and Yousuf Shah, who used to hold the musical weeks in their respective Darbars. As Yousuf Shah Chak himself was a poet of repute, he invited singers in his ‘Darbar’ and encouraged them by granting financial assistance’s. This period is marked by various types of music, which from cities and towns flourished to the villages. It was the period of Habba Khatoon, who besides being a poetess also used to sing her songs in a sweet voice. The art introduced few new types and instruments. The music came to be known in different forms, like classical Sufiana and folk music.

Although it was sufiana music which dominated classical ages, but with the introduction of few new trends folk got wide representation. The ‘Chakri, Ruff, Wanwun, Nind Buth, Lala Pad and Ladi Shah’ got promoted under the roof of folk music. It also provided room to the light Sufiana songs. Today we have number of albums available in Kashmir folk while the classical has turned extremely rare. But, it has to be admitted that Kashmiri songs and music is gaining momentum as day by day, it is attracting more listeners, which makes us to bask in this glory that our local songs are poised to shake many more legs and sooth listeners souls.

Kashmir - The Regional "Superpower"

Ashraf has conducted scholarly research to come to a startling conclusion

(Mr. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili, 68, was born in Srinagar. He received his early schooling from the Government Middle School, Nowhatta, Srinagar, and from M.P. High School, Baghi Dilawar Khan in Srinagar. Mr. Fazili completed his F.Sc. from the Sri Pratap College in Srinagar, and received his Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from the Annamalai University with honours grade. He joined the J&K government service upon graduation and steadily rose up the ranks to the position of Chief Engineer at his retirement. He managed a number of important infrastructure projects during his government service, including the Model Town Chrar-i-Sharif, Lower Jhelum Hydro Electric Project, Solid Waste Disposal Scheme Srinagar City, Circular Road Project Srinagar City, etc. He has numerous publications to his credit, including Srinagar the Sun City, Our Ancestors and Saints of Kashmir, etc., which were presented in seminar and symposia. He writes for various journals and is presently working on the Jhelum Valley Civilization.)


It was in the 8th century AD during 695 to 732 AD, when King Lalitaditya of Kashmir subjugated almost the whole of India under his domain. The 4th Taranga Of Rajtarangini describes the adventures of Lalitaditya of Kashmir. He was the 5th King of Karkota (Naga) dynasty (695-857 AD) and Lalitaditya ruled for almost 37 years from 695 to 732 AD. It is this king who is mentioned in the legend of Kerala as ‘ Parsurama’, which word might be shortened form of ‘Parihaspura’ or ‘Parihasakeshwa’.

Lalitaditya spent the later part of his reigning period trying to bring India under his control and the triumphant marched through India with all the fighting gears. He first brought the states neighboring to Kashmir under his control. He captured whole of Punjab within a few days and entered Delhi. From there he invaded Kanauj but unexpectedly Raja Bashodam, the king of Kanauj resisted the attack and there ensued a bloody battle. Raja Bashodam surrendered and appealed for truce, which was agreed to and after fixing a small tribute his kingdom was restored to him.Next he invaded Godres and trampling the whole area under his feet reached Kalka and captured the city of Kalank. From here he turned to Bihar. The king of Bihar laid down his arms and came forward for peace. Staying there for a few days next he turned his attention towards Bengal. Many bloody battles were fought and Lalitaditya always won. The king of Bengal also prayed for peace which was granted to him as a good strategy. He went to the pilgrimage to Jagan nath ji temple and distributed much wealth among the priests there. He prayed for the forgiveness of the past atrocities and plunder and began to think of further strategies. Now he turned towards Deccan. He conquered Nanak Des and some other areas and befriended the kings and restored their countries to them. Those days Queen Ratta was ruling over some areas of Deccan. When Lalitaditya reached near her territory, ha as usual began to interfere with her territories. The brave queen was enraged and at once organized her army, donned men’s wear and repulsed the invasion. She gave such a fight that the king was put to a great trouble. He forgot all his earlier conquests. The war continued for a long time. But the stars of Lalita Dut were in his favor and in spite of great struggle she could not win and in the end she too had to bow before him. Lalita Dut praised the velour of Queen Ratta and restored her to her country, made a truce and went ahead. After this confrontation no Deccan king dared the King of Kashmir, who trampled all areas on his way and reached the Kaveri. At this place Raja Lalit Dut sipped coconut water and also distributed among his soldiers. This relieved them of their fatigue. They regained strength and after taking rest for a few days invaded Karnata (karnatka), Konkan territories,comprising of the seven tracts including Kerala (Malabar), Goa, Konkan proper etc and also conquered Lanka. The history of Cheranad (Malabar) gets somewhat known only from the 8th century, when Lalita Dut of Kashmir staged the procession on elephants back from Gokana to Kanyakumari. The king is featured as the ‘Parasurama’ in ‘Keralapathi’ written in 18th or 19th century The account of Parsurama in the Kerala history is stated as under:

Parsurama threw his axe over the sea from Gokana (Goa). It reached upto the Cape and the water receded from the region exposing the land. This reclaimed land is still called Parsurama-Kshetra. Then Parsurama brought out 64 priestly Brahmin (Nambudiri) families from the North along the shores of tulunad, settled them in Kerala and founded his own religious sect.

According to the Keralopathi, Adiraja Perumal, Pandi Perumal and Cheruman Perumal had ruled Kerala (Cheranad). The Perumals were succeeded by the Kulasekhara Varma dynasty. Both the Perumals and Kulasekhara varmas ruled Kerala with the capital at Mahodayapuram from the last years of the 8th century to early 11th century AD. The extracts from the history of Kerala compared with the history of Kashmir from 8th century to 11th century AD lead us to the inference that the rulers in both these dynasties were deputed from Kashmir to govern Kerala.

Rajtarangini states that Lalita Dut the ‘king of Kashmir and monarch of India’ had returned after his triumphant march through the 7 tracts of Konkan and sent gate-keepers (dwarapalakars) to put up a temple at Mahodayapura, in the same architectural beauty as that of the Martanda temple in Kashmir built by him. The chief of the dwrapalakars installed Lord Mahodaya (Subhramani) there. This is clear from the history of Avantivarman of Kashmir as given in Rajtarangini (5th Taranga verses 28-29, that Avantivarman had sent Ramata as a preacher to Mahodaya (locally known as Mahodyapuram) because the capital of Chera (Sura) Nad in the days of Cheruman Perumals, elected by the 64 royal gate keepers (dwarapalakas) sent from Kashmir and continued to be the capital of Cheranad after the formation of the 2nd Chera empire by Kulasekhara varmans in the 9th century till it was destroyed by the Chola invasion in the 11th century.

The no. 64 has great significance in the history of Kerala. They- the royal gate keepers represented the 64 temples that existed in Kashmir (confirmed in verse 169 of the 5th Taranga). Lalita Dut would have sent 64 royal gate-keepers, representing the 64 temples in kashmir, to Mahodaya in Cheranad. The statues of the 64 dwarakapalakas can still be seen arranged in the Subramani Swami temple at Trichendur, in Trinnelveli district of Tamil Nadu. Formerly this place was a part of Cheranad (Kerala). The place name was changed from Mahadayapuram to Tiruchendur by the Cholas after destroying the Cheranad capital in the 11th century. (The author has been to the historic site in 1963 while on a survey camp during his study of degree engineering in Annamalai University South India)

The chief of these dwarapalakas was elected as the first Perumal who ruled Cheranad for 12 years. He too was the head of the dwarapalakas, who installed the Mahodaya Swamin in Mahodaya temple. The successor either appointed or elected was Pandi Perumal. He must have been the chief royal guard of Martand temple in Kashmir too. Because Kashmiris call the Martanda temple ‘Pandavlari’ (temple built by Pandavas). There is a tribe in Kashmir known as ‘Kishtwaris’ predominantly agriculturists. They were considered as Dravidians migrated from South India/ Kathiaward. Were they the people deported from Pandiyanad by Lalita Dut for the construction of Martand temple in Kashmir? A statue of ‘Kannaki’ in a remote village in Jammu was venerated by the dravidians as the symbol of charity in Chera, Chola and Pandiya Nada of South India. The chief priest of the remote temple was Nambudiri from Kerala, a descendant of the gate-keepers sent from Kashmir by Lalita Dut the king of Kashmir and the Nambudiris from Kerala were generally appointed as head priests in the majority of the temples in Jammu region by the Dogra dynasty.

After the rule of Pandi Perumal and other Perumals the famous CHERUMAN PERUMAL ruled Cheranad for 36 years. Afterwards he divided the Cheranad into 63 smaller units, entrusted them to the remaining royal gate-keepers and himself went to Mecca, Where he along with his companions embraced Islam on the august hands of the Prophet Muhammad (PBH).( It is said that he had been witness to the miracle of the prophet seeing moon getting cut in to two parts and then rejoining) ,On his return journey to Cheranad he died at Zaffala ( on the shore of Oman Gulf) in 832 AD. This shows that a little more than 100 years, the Perumals ruled the Cheranad with their pagoda in the city of Mahadayapuram, the capital. After the cheruman perumal’s rule, the Kulasekhara Varmas succeeded them. At this period Avantivarman of Utpala dynasty was the king of Kashmir, who ruled from 867 to 884 AD. Dinnaras currency prevalent in Kashmir then was used in Kerala (Cheranad) also at that time. The oldes coins of Kerala known as Parasurama Rassi is the Kashmir Dinnaras. It is seen recorded in the earliest discovered copper edict, the Vazhapally Chart granted by the first king Rajasekhara varma of Kulasekhara dynasty.

The Kashmir Scenario:
Al-Beruni writes that Hinduism was not strong in Kashmir in the 11th century. But the existence of ‘Shardapeth’ confirms the existence of Saivites there before that. Also because Rajtarangni of Kalhana opens with the praise: ‘Aum-Hail to Sri Ganesa’ (salutation to the Guru of Manichaens) and then praises Siva, it has to be inferred that the people of Kashmir had recognized Saivism also.

Manichaeism became powerful in Kashmir during the reign of Durlabhavardhana (632-682). It was Lalita Dut who with conditions favorable for the growth of Saivism in kashmir,raised a temple for the Sun god- the famous Martanda temple in Kashmir. The custodians of the temple were the white Huns (naphalites-one of the lost tribes of Israel) who migrated to kerala as Nambudiris.

Just as Manichaeism and Saivism prevailed and separated into two distinct religions in Kashmir, there were divisions in Kerala among the dwarapalakas. Before the last Cheruman Perumal went to Mecca, he subdivides the Cherand into 63 villages or units and gave them out to the other dwarapalakas or his subordinates. Of those units , 32 settled to the north of Alwaye river (in Ernakulam district of Kerala state) where the Nabudiris followed saivism (generally called as belonging to ‘Surya Vansa’ or worshippers of the Sun god). They elected the ruler of Kolathiri (Kavilathikari) as their chief. Ibni-Batuta mentions in the travelogue about Kilatniri as ‘Kawlan’ (as shortened form of \Kavalgam’ (Pagoda) of the ruling king), with the capital city of Manjuran (Manjeswaram). He says : ‘The king in this place is the greatest of the kings in Malabar, and in it are about 4000 Muslim merchants from Persia,Yemen,Arabia etc.

The 31 units of dwarapalakas who settled to the south of the river Alwaye, retained Manichaean belief and they belong to the group of ‘Soma vamsa’ or worshippers of the Moon god. They maintained their headquarters at Mahodayapura till the 100 years Chera-Chola war of the 20th century. With the Chola invasion in 1012 AD, their dispensation in Cheranad floundered.In this set up Hiduism came to prominence in Kerala. Cheranad got broken up in to bits controlled by local chieftains.
Shree Sankara of Shardapeeth:

It is believed that Sree Sankara the profound preacher of Monism (Saivism) belonged to Kashmir. He was the person who expounded the simple monistic thery to counter the dualistic theory of Manichaetsm. His proficiency in Sanskrit supports the theory of his training in Kashmir at ‘Shardapeeth’ in his younger days. There is no reason to believe that such a versatile Sanskrit scolar of the 9th century was brought up in Kerala. May be Sree Sankara was the father of Malayalam language- its creator. The folk language of Kashmir ‘Sharda’ would have travelled down to Kerala with Sree Sankara. Kashmiri and later combining with Tamil might have produced Malayalam Language.

All the higher castes in Kerala, we see now are the progeny of settlers from different parts of Asia, especially from Kashmir and West Asia. Nambudris and Nairs from Kashmir, St Thomas Christians from Persia and Arabian gulf shores, so also jews, merchants from Armenia (originally of Manichaean community) and Wzhavas from Sri Lanka (Lavanganad), all migrated in the 9th century AD and after Islam came to prominence in Malabar only after the invasion by Hyder Ali and his reputed son Tipu Sultan of Mysore at the end of 18th century.

Before the Gogra dynasty came to power in Kashmir, there were numerous independent villages in Kashmir valley. One very curious feature of these tiny villages was that the form of government was republican and that the principle of ‘Home- Rule’ has been carried to the extreme limit in these villages. A village parliament managed all the internal affairs of the village. But questions of general policy were settled by the State parliament to which each village sent its representative.

The same form of ‘Home-Rule’ was prevalent on Cheranad (Kerala) during the reign of Perumals and Varmas- sent from Kashmir. These village parliaments were known as ‘Sangams’ (Nattukoottams) on the basis of Charts given to these West Asian emigrants, such as ‘Anjuvannam’ of the jews; ‘Manigramam’ of the Armenian merchants and ‘Taripalli’ of the St. Thomas Christians. These three important Sangams were formed on the basis of Charts issued and privileges granted by the kings of Kalasekhara Varma dynasty of 9th century AD.

It is quite likely that Lalita Dut would have sent some Nayanars (Nairs) along with the 64 Nambudiri families. The artisans of the Nair group were experts in carpentery, rock-cutting and metal smelting. It is they Who constructed the Tiruchendur Mahodayapura swamin temple in Cheranad. The temples at Martanda and Mahadayapura could have been built only by expert artisans with the help of cheap Dravidian labourers. This might have led the interchange of settling Kashmir Nairs in Kerala and Dravidians from South India in Kashmir.

The Nairs in Kerala are ‘Naga’ worshippers. The worship of ‘Nagas’ (serpents) is a festival still observed in some parts of Kashmir valley, especially in Bhadarwah anf Kishtwar regions in the month of Chaitra. Sankrant of the beginning of a month (in Bikrami era) is regarded sacred day of Kashmiri Hindus. In Kerala too the above two festivals are observed with enthusiasm by the Nair community. The springs in Kashmir are called ‘Nags’ like Anant Nag, Veri Nag,Shesh Nag, Nara Nag, Neel Nag etc. and temples were erected near many springs, believing that Nag Devtas were custodians of these springs. Many stories are weaved around these Nag Devtas living underground beneath the beds of these springs.

The matriarchal lineage and polyandry systems adopted by Nairs in Kerala had its origin from Kashmir. Devdasi systems prevalent in the Kashmir temples from Asoka’s time was practiced in the temples of Kerala, till it was abolished during the British period (1785-1947 AD)

A more important finding of these studies is that the cultural bond and affinity of Kerala with Kashmir are very much more thanwith the adjoining Tamilnadu and Karnatka State in South India. Drawing up a skeleton of the cultural bond and affinity between Kashmir and Kerala attempted here, it is possible that a close study of the ancient contact and relations between the two states will bring to light much additional material of great historic value.

With the advent of Islam, its introduction to both these states has been very much during the time of the Prophet Mohammad (PBH). Two emissaries (Sahaba-companions of the Prohet PBH) are reported to have come to Kashmir and the Raja Vana Dutta was deeply moved, whereupon he lead a very simple life and even distributed one tenth of his agricultural produce amongst the poor and needy as ‘ushur’- (Islam in Kashmir by prof. Mohi-ud-din; Murasala Kashmir Panidtan Lucknow, 1872 AD)

It is during the Prophets time that Cheruman Perumal while observing sky saw the miracle of moon splitting and rejoining. On which he came to know through Arab traders that their Prophet (PBH) in Mecca had performed this miracle. As recorded in the history, the king cheruman Perumal met the Prophet (PBH) on 27th Shawal at 9 AM. The king fell at the feet of the Holy Prophet (PBH). The Prophet (PBH) lifted him up, he embraced Islam, took the king to his home and entertained him well. The Holy Prophet himself converted the king and his companions to Islam. Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq (RA) who was present on the occasion, enquired about the guest. The Holy Prophet (PBH) said that he is the king of the place from where ginger ang pepper came. ‘Firdaysal Hikmat’ by Thabur mentions that Cheruman Perumal lived with the Prophet (PBH) for 17 days. Hakim in Mustadriq (4:30) states that an Indian king presented a jar of ginger (Morabba) to the Holy Prophet (PBH) who distributed it among his disciples. A rare manuscript from the Arrakal Palace in Kerala states: ‘ I will keep the word (of kingship) till my uncle, who has gone to mecca, returns’
In the Hindu religious festival (Theyyam) also this story is narrated, ‘Cheruman Perumal sailed fromKodangallur secretly and on reaching Dharampatanam, the next day he entrusted the Kavilakam (Royal Palace) to zamurin. His followers also sailed from Kodangallur. The Prophet Mohammad (PBH) was staying in Jadda. He went there and converted to Islam, took the new name as ‘Tajuddin’ with the seal of Perumal eleven Thangals (Sayids) came to Kadangullar and with the permission of the king, Medal Mosque, Abduk-Rahman Mosque, Muttath Mosque, Panthalamani Mosque, Shahab-ud-din m-Mosque- in all eleven Mosques were constructed.

In his book ‘Karthikodayam’, C.V. Kunjiraman writes: He (Cheruman Perumal) accepted Islam and went to Mecca. Before going to Mecca on Karakadskan (June-July)23rd at Kodiyathur Inuvanchikulam Siva temple, he divided Keralam into different parts which he distributed to his nephews and dependents. This happened 1400 years ago. It is after this Panthalam, Kotharakara, Quilon, Cochin royalties came into existence. Cheruman Perumal became sick just before he was about to return to India. So he requested ‘Malik Bin Dinar’ to come to Kerala and spread Islam. He wrote letters to different kings of Kerala and entrusted them to malik bin dinar and his group. According to C.N.Ahmed Moulavi, Perumal died in Shehr Mukhalla and was buried there. Malik bi dinar, Sharaf bin Malik,Malik bin habib bin Malik,wife Kumeria,and others – a total of 44 persons reached Kerala, 20 of them knew Holy quran by heart. Malik bin Dinar was allowed to construct mosque at Kodangullar. This was the first mosque constructed anywhere in India. They gave the letters to different kings in Kerala and constructed mosques at Quilon,Kazargode, Mangalore and Pakkanore. The name of the first Qazi of the 18 mosques in India are mentioned in ‘Rahatul Maluk’ by Suhrawardi.

Islam grew peacefully and steadily. The first eight centuries of Mupilla growth following the establishment of Islam in Kerala were marked by a calm forward movement. The peaceful contact and development stands in shear contrast to the progress of Islam in North India 9with Kashmir being an exception)

Mutual economic interest and religious tolerance contributed to the growth. The increase in the population was due to immigration, inte-rmarriages and direct conversion. This process continued till the Portuguese arrived in the Malabar Coast and European interference started in India in the 12th century AD. with the suppression of Muslims till 18th century AD.

Turning back to the conquests of Lalita Dut in the South India and after conquering Sangaldweep (Sarandeep) islands (Sri Lanka), Lalita Dut turned towards the west. He plundered Bombay and collected huge wealth and conquered Kangan Des. From there he subjugated Malwa. God’s grace was with him and wherever he went success greeted him. He trampled the whole country and yet he escaped unhurt. When God graces some one He creates qualities in him which become reasons for his success. He respected learned men, statesmen, and artists and would keep their company. Where ever he went he searched for statesmen and learned people and appointed them on responsible posts. In his previous he had gathered many artisans and statesmen all of whom were unique in their respective fields. He found a man Jankan by name. who was proficient in Arabic and Persian and was considered the crown of them all. He was originally from Bukhara and had mastery over alchemy. When Lalita Dut saw his unique qualities he appointed him minister and included him among his special adsvisors. Next he captured Ujjain and Dwarika. From there he invaded Gujrat and subjugated the king and went to Bhakar.But here he met a tough resistance. The cool atmosphere of Kabul after crossing Attak attracted him and since the conquests of Lalita Dut had been known all over the world, the king of Afghanistan submitted as soon as the former entered his country. Thereafter he turned his attention to Bukhara,, where Momin the ruler put a tough resistance but had to surrender in the long run. The unique swordsmanship of Lalita Dut became talk of the town in Central Asia also. All the kings and rulers were terrorized. The brave king conquered Samarqand, Tashkand, Khokand, Kashghar, Khatan, Khata and Khurasan in battles and by strategy and brought innumerable wealth and returned to Kashmir via Tibet in 729 AD after 12 years. On reaching Kashmir he offered eleven crore dinars to Mahadev Swami Temple. In this expedition he had restored all the countries to their respective rulers but retained Lahore and Jalandhar. He sent officers from this place to administer these places. After a few days he held a public function and rewarded his companions and ministers who had stood by him throughout the conquests. He gave them estates and gifts in compensation of their services. Al-Beruni says that the victory of Lalita Dut was celebrated in Kashmir every year as an annual festival.

Next he turned towards the welfare of the public. He founded many villages, temples,Hospitals,inns, for his people. He did best for the welfare of the cultivators and devised ways and means for their benefit, which hold good to this day. He founded Lalitapur now known as Letapura after his name.There he built a novel sun temple and earmarked the whole revenue from Kanauj for its maintenance. In the same manner he built Parihas Keshaw temple at Parihaspur. He set up a pillar of stone fifty yards long in its courtyard. He also built a unique temple of Mukta Keshaw at village Divar. The temple surpasses all the temples built by Lalita Dut. Eighty four thousand tollas of gold were used on its dome. Eighty four thousand tolas of gold and silver of the Buddha were placed in these twin temples for worship. In addition to these Raja Lalita Dut spent much money on the repairs of old temples also. He built the temple of Zishtishwar situated at Shankaracharya Hill (Sulaiman). He repaired the Martandishwar Temple at Mattan. A strong fore wall was constructed around it for its safety. During his reign a temple was found from under the earth at village Sher Daron. The inscription on its door said that it was built by Sri Ram Chander and Lachman Ji. Raja Lalita Dut spent much money on the restoration of this ancient monument also. During his conquests he had built a grand temple of Narsing Avtar at Turkistan also. Rani Chakravarti , the queen of Lalita Dut also found a village Chakrapora after herself.. The village is now called Chakar Baster Pora. From constructions he turned his attention to irrigation. He restored old canals and affected a code of distribution of water and made the country fertile. He had made a free kitchen for the people, where a cauldron was so big that food for one thousand people could be cooked in it. One lakh people ate food from the kitchen every day. In short whatever money he gathered from places, he spent all on such charitable work. Maharaja Lalita Dut was a just courageous, brave, caring for his subjects, sincere and a first rate person. But as is said that man is a combination of faults and forget fulness. He too had two failings that brought bad name to him. He suffered for these as well. First he issued silly orders in intoxication and he would not keep his word. He had brought Guru the king of Bengal with him to Kashmir with great promises. Here he recalled the bloody battles and got him murdered for these. He did the same with Raja of Gord Des. Their well-wishers always sought opportunities to avenge them. Finding an opportunity they came to Kashmir and murdered many a dignitary here. They plundered the temples at Parihaspur and malta Keshaw and set Rammchandr’s old temple on fire. They had escaped after great plunder and loot, when the king came to know of it.

After setting the administration right Raja Lalita Dut raised an army and marched towards India once again. He promulgated new settlement rules in this country also and then set out for Turkestan. He had removed all impediments earlier and this time he trampled the whole of Central Asia (Istri Raj) and reached Siberia (Russia). He liked the climate of this place so much that he forgot to return. After waiting for a long time the dignitaries of the country sent a petition to the king saying that he had spent much time in conquests and that it would be befitting his royal dignity to grace them with his presence once again. In response Lalita Dut wrote back that the northern countries were very attractive and alluring. Whatever he had conquered so far had not satisfied his inner urge, he wrote.He said that he did not want to waste time in Kashmir. He further said that he had two sons , Kolia Pid, Wazra Dut, whichever they thought fit should be made king in his plce. He further enjoined upon them to tell his grand-son Jia Pid to try to match him. For his successors he gave some suggestions and asked them to understand these very keenly. After this nothing is recorded in the history of Kashmir about this king because he spent rest of his life in the North. After some time the king returned through Tibet but at Arbamuck Mountains called Deva Sui now, he got buried under snow along with his army and men and thus was he obliterated from this world.



01.Acta Indica ---P.V. Mathew
02.Where three Empires meet.---E.F.Knight.
03.The Travels of Ibn batuta.
04.Al-Beruni’s India.
05.The Pandiyan Kingdom and The Sangam Age –Nilkantha Shastri.
06.The Keral History—History Association Ernakulam.
07.Jammu and Kashmir---Somnath Dhar.
08.The Fifth Gospel—F.M.Hasnain.
09.Kalhana’s Rajtarangini---R.S.Pandith.
10. Heritage of Kashmir---F.M.Hasnain.
11. Islam in Malabar--- Prof. K.M. Baha-ud din, (Pro. V.C. Aligarh M. University)
12. A Complete History of Kashmir---Mohammad-ud-din Fauk.
13. Janoobi Hindustan Mein Islam ki Ibtida---Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili.
Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili (FIE)----Retd. Chief Engineer PWD J&K State, India.