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, June 9, 2012

Illegal Land Grab

Javeria wonders if authorities are part of the problem

(Ms. Javeria Khurshid, 25, was born in Jammu and is a resident of Srinagar. She did her schooling at the Simin Rose Garden Montessori, Sanat Nagar, Srinagar, the Gazan International School in Saudi Arabia, and the Mallinson Girls School, Srinagar. She completed her Bachelor's degree from the Government College for Women, Maulana Azad Road, Srinagar, in Sociology, English Literature and Education. She finished her post graduation from the Department of English (in English Literature) from the University of Kashmir in 2011. Presently she is pursuing further studies and preparing for the National Eligibility Test (NET). She has contributed articles to the Greater Kashmir and the Kashmir Times. She is a voracious reader and hobbies include writing, graffiti, drawing, poetry and blog writing.)

Encroachments Everywhere

Kashmir has become a hub of encroachments and so far no steps have been taken to tackle this problem. Some major functional buildings have been illegally encroached. The main tertiary health care of our State, SKIMS, too is facing this problem. The main road outside this hospital is encroached unlawfully by buses, fruit vendors, and nuts-selling vendors adding to the traffic mess. The buses and matadors have made half of the road their ‘legal’ parking place and the other half of the road is taken by the vendors. The other side of the road is busy with construction work going on for the past many months. It’s almost impossible for anyone to walk within ‘allotted’ space, let alone drive!

The SKIMS Trust hospital, which is situated one kilometer away, is a Herculean distance to cover. The ambulances that need to ply between the two health care systems get stuck in the traffic mess caused by the buses, matadors, fruit-vendors, hawkers, peddlers etc. The distance between the two hospitals is some 5-10 minutes, but it takes almost 1 hour and sometimes more to cover the distance between the two. Emergency patients battle for life owing to the frequent jams. The ambulances, which ought to be given first priority to transit, are left stranded amid the disarray caused by the plying buses and matadors that stop anywhere they like. Vendors and hawkers create frenzy, and they have turned the road into a busy shopping location.

The irony is that all this is happening under the nose of the police station situated nearby. The policemen act as mute spectators of the dismal situation outside. There are no traffic policemen to control, curb and direct the traffic mess outside this emergency hospital. Everyone passing by this place is aware of the grave situation. This speaks of the sorry state of affairs in the valley. Corruption has spread its tentacles everywhere. The men in ‘khaki’ have forgotten their pledge and their duty towards people. The police officers, however, are not the only ones at fault. Having failed to implement effective governance on ground, the entire system and government in J&K is falling apart.

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