Introduction to Blog

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

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

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

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

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

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Destroying Culture

When there is no respect for fellow humans, how can monuments fare any better?

Mughal Monuments Under Illegal Occupation

Imtiyaz Sofi, Kashmir Images

Srinagar: The Mughal Sarai in Shadimarg village of south Kashmir district of Pulwama, occupied by locals for decades, has turned into ruins for receiving no attention from authorities. This monument was constructed during Jahangir’s rule by his governor in Kashmir, Ali Mardan.

According to locals, there were 83 Kanals of land under the monument as per government records and practically there are only five Kanals of land under it. Rest of the land has been illegally occupied by local farmers.

The monuments are located at two places, now used by occupants as cow sheds and fire wood stores. There is also a mosque which is still used for prayers. According to local residents, there was a spring in one of the two compounds of these monuments, which was filled up and a house was constructed by a local resident there.

The residents claim that they are living inside these monuments for centuries.

“We are living inside these monuments since 300 years,” said a resident living in a house inside the compound of these monuments.

But majority of villagers believe that they have occupied these Mughal buildings illegally.

There are about seven Mughal monuments here within a distance of 19 kilometres. These monuments were used as accommodation for Mughal army and Royal tours. There were all facilities available in these Sarais (monuments), experts say.

The locals claim that they many times sought attention of tourism department towards these precious monuments, but to no avail.

The locals demand reconstruction of the monuments and relocation of people living inside them to other place so that remnants of Mughal architecture remain safe.

There is also huge potential for tourism as the monuments even in ruins provide a glimpse of the art and architecture of Medieval Kashmir.

“We ask for government intervention in development of these monuments and promoting a tourist friendly atmosphere around so that this site could add to local economy”, demanded a local shopkeeper.

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