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.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Road Accidents Kill More Kashmiris Than Terrorists Plus Security Forces Combined

Srinagar lacks a red-light traffic management systems because authorities worry that public is not disciplined enough to follow the system. The results are obvious

Road Accidents Killed 2162 in 2 yrs

Umer Maqbool (Greater Kashmir)

Srinagar: As many as 2162 persons were killed and 18817 injured in about 12000 road accidents in Jammu and Kashmir during the past two years. According to official data, 1042 persons were killed and 8709 injured in 6136 traffic mishaps in 2010. In 2011, there was increase in the fatalities with 1120 persons having died; another 10108 were wounded.

Notwithstanding the deployment of entire traffic police manpower in the summer and winter capitals of the state, the cities witnessed 130 and 382 deaths respectively during the two year period. While Jammu district witnessed highest fatalities, Pulwama and Shopain district recorded lowest i.e, 13 causalities in the same time period.

There was no end to road deaths in the accident-prone Kishtwar and Doda areas of Chenab Valley as 156 lives were consumed in the twin districts having hilly and serpentine roads.

While Jammu and Kashmir Government is in deep slumber, the recent loss of life due to accidents in Chenab Valley and Srinagar-Jammu Highway has brought the issue of road safety on the forefront again, calling for immediate attention of the authorities.

People hold the loopholes in the transport mechanism responsible for the spurt in accidents. Talking to Greater Kashmir, Chairman of Legislative panel on road accidents, Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami, said that multiple factors were responsible for increase in casualties due to traffic mishaps.

“First of all, we don’t have a compressive road safety policy. And lack of coordination between different government agencies is responsible for traffic mess,” he said, adding that there were flaws in the mechanism of issuance of driving licenses in the state.

“There is perception in our state that you will get license on paying money. And there are instances which confirm this perception,” he said.

Tarigami added that shortage of manpower and absence of medical facilities including ambulances on Srinagar-Jammu Highway was another factor for massive human causalities.

He also disclosed that the report on road accidents prepared by the House Committee will be submitted in ensuing session of Assembly.

Inspector General of Traffic Police, Hemant Kumar Lohia, however, puts thrust on self-discipline to minimize the casualties.

“First and foremost step required for minimizing the casualties is self-discipline. Accidents cannot be wished away but can be reduced if people will follow guidelines and regulations laid by traffic department and other agencies. Better transport, better roads and technological advancements will be of more help than increasing the manpower,” he said, underlining the need for creating public awareness to avoid road accidents.

“We have seen that after every accident authorities make tall claims that they will take emergency measures forthwith to ensure road safety, but their oft-repeated assurances prove nothing more than hoax,” Muhammad Shaban, a Doda resident, said.

“Roads & Buildings Department, Beacon and National Highway Authority of India is responsible for the loss of lives as accidents have been reported mostly in the areas where the condition of roads is pathetic. Besides, there is no protection (caution signals) on the turns and blind curves in other areas,” he said, adding, “Not to talk of roads in other districts of the state, even the vital Srinagar-Jammu Highway and roads in Doda, Kishtwar are in shambles,” Shaban said. When contacted, Minister for Transport, Qamar Ali Akhoon, said that a number of measures were in the offing to minimize accidents.

“We would put tight system in place for the issuance and renewal of driving licenses and directions in this regard will be issued forthwith. Besides, two driving institutes will be established in Jammu and Srinagar shortly,” he said.

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