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.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

If You Can Believe It

More people die in J&K due road accidents than due to militant activity and police actions combined. Now there is talk of putting a traffic management system (red lights) in Srinagar. Have we not heard that before? Two reports

935 People Die in Subversive Violence in J&K in Last Three Years Against 3288 in Road Mishaps

Early Times Report

Jammu: When the J&K State Assembly was told on Friday that as many as 3288 people got killed and 27165 were injured in 18786 road accidents during the last three years people heaved deep sighs over the human loss. But those who were a bit petrified and those who felt perturbed over the sorry state of affairs were presumably unaware of the fact that 01.18 lakh people die in road accidents in India per year.

Those who wish to adopt either a sadistic view or "I care least" approach to the situation in Jammu and Kashmir seem to receive satisfaction over reports indicating that about 10,000 people get killed in road accidents in Andhra Pradesh and its adjoining states per year. But those who try to seek comfort from the Andhra scene forget that here are about 14 lakh vehicles in Andhra Pradesh against eight lakhs in Jammu and Kashmir.

Again there are people who believe that more people get killed in road accidents in Delhi state per year than in Jammu and Kashmir forget that in Delhi there are one million cars and in all there are about four million vehicles. Delhi has gained a reputation of being a state of rash, drunk and reckless driving in which over 2,000 people get killed in road mishaps per year.

Yes, if one is bothered over the rising level in the road accidents in Jammu and Kashmir, there have been as many as 18786 during the last three years, they are not to be blamed because no state Government can prevent road accidents from taking place in a state dotted with tough mountain routes and roads. Road accidents can be a routine affair in a state of Jammu and Kashmir where there is no lane driving system nor any automatic traffic control system

If experts says that majority of road mishaps take place in hilly areas of Jammu and Kashmir they are right because number of road accidents and causalities therein have taken place in the
hilly belts of Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban, Batote, Banihal, Rajouri and Poonch. Even the official records confirm it they show that in 2009 197 people were killed in the hilly belts of Jammu region against 63 in the Kashmir valley, there were 192 an 190 deaths in road mishaps in the Jammu region in 2010 and 2011 against 55 and 75 in the Kashmir valley during the same period.

Two other factors responsible for the road accidents is rise in the number of road unworthy vehicles or what may be called vehicles that have outlived their utility. These vehicles unfit for carrying passengers from one place to the other operate because of lack of supervision and checking by the traffic and transport authorities.

Another reason being overloading and that too in the accident prone areas of Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban, Banihal, Rajouri and Poonch. Since people, who are yet to achieve proficiency in driving passenger vehicles, manage to get driving licences they become merchants of death while failing to negotiate deep and blind road curves in the mountain regions of the state.

This calls for a new policy for regulating driving licences, registration of vehicles, traffic control in the state. The new policy should provide for heavy penalty for those drivers, vehicle owners and traffic police who violate the norms set by the Government.

If the new system is not evolved more and more people will get killed in road accidents every year. What is worrying is the fact that during the last three years 935 people, including militants, were killed in militancy related incidents in Jammu and Kashmir against 3288 in road accidents. One does hear a louder roar against causalities in militancy related incidents than in road mishaps. This thinking has to be changed.

Srinagar to Get Traffic Signals

(Kashmir Monitor)

Srinagar: Traffic signals will soon be set up at four places in the city to regulate traffic systems and reduce jams, particularly during peak hours, officials said on Saturday.

Local authorities have chalked out a plan to install signals at Rambagh, Jehangir chowk, Dalgate and Radio Kashmir in May, they said.

Other locations will be covered by June, he said.

A foreign company will install a traffic signal at Karan Nagar Chowk free of cost, the official said.

The administration also decided that mini bus drivers would not be allowed to wait at any bus stand for more than two minutes and they should stop only at identified bus stops, he said.

"Police has been asked to ensure the removal of roadside vendors for hassle-free traffic in the city," he said. The decision to act against roadside vendors comes close on the heels of 'Darbar move', a bi-annual practice under which the state government functions six months each in Srinagar during summer and Jammu in winter.

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