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.

Monday, February 11, 2013

State That Shows Desdain Towards its Minorities

Empty rhetoric aside, J&K Gocernment's indifference is only spreading angst among minorities

State Fails to Promulgate Minorities Act: J-K only state that doesn’t have minority panel

Sumit Hakhoo (Tribune India)

Jammu: Even after 21 years, the state of Jammu and Kashmir is ignoring a suggestion of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), seeking extension and amendment to the NCM Act, 1992.

Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in the country that doesn’t have a Minority Commission to safeguard the interests of Hindus, Sikhs and Christians, who fall in minority list in the Muslim-majority Himalayan region.

The state faces a unique problem, as here Muslims are in majority while Hindus and other communities are in minority. So, the amendment is necessary so that benefits of schemes for the minority groups are implemented properly.

As per the procedure, the state has to make a recommendation to the President of India that an amendment may be made to the Act to make it applicable to the state by considering enactment of a law for promulgation of the J&K Minorities Act along the lines of model Act developed by the Commission and circulated to all states.

The last effort for setting up a commission was done by then Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, when the Social Welfare Department had set in the process for the same, but it was put under the carpet after Omar Abdullah took over reins of the state.

Sources said despite several reminders by Minority Commission chairman Wajahat Habibullah to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and the Law Department to take steps to make the Act applicable in the state, the Law Department has remained silent on the issue.

“It has been very slow in its response. J&K has even failed to bring the State Minority Commission Act. But we are still making efforts on our part”, said Wajahat Habibullah, NCM chairman. Habibullah said as the state has separate Constitution, it is mandatory to seek approval of the state Assembly before any Central Act passed by Parliament of India is extended to the state.

Article 1 sub (2) of the National Minorities’ Act of 1992 excludes Jammu and Kashmir from the jurisdiction of the Act. Nevertheless, the Union government did advise the state to have such laws passed by the state legislature and made applicable by appointing the Minority Commission.

However, state law secretary GH Tantary ruled out any early solution. “The Act can’t be extended in J&K but we are studying ways to create a separate body of our own. The process is going on,” Tantary said.

The state government has been contending that complexity in declaring any group a minority arises from the existence of a peculiar, region-wise and community-wise composition in the state, where no community is in minority in all the three regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Leh.

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