Kashmir Truth Be Told Blog
Yus neereth gassan, pheereth cha yevaano: morda che gassan zinde (Kashmiri saying)

2/27/09

11 days to justice - What's that smell? Indian democracy!


11


Days to Justice

If I were to describe the following situation to Europeans or persons from a non-Asian country and quiz them whether the place I am describing is a dictatorship or not; in your opinion, what would their reply be?

This is the scenario I would present:

1. People are prevented from participating in peaceful protests to show their anger at the killing of two innocent youth by the army.

2. Political leaders are kept under house arrest for weeks so they are not able to organize these peaceful marches.

3. The towns and cities have barbed-wire checkpoints every half-a-kilometer to prevent the movement of people.

4. Army, police and other armed forces are given special powers to enter any home at anytime of day or night without a search warrant; detain anyone for an indefinite period of time; and are seldom charged or convicted when they commit crimes.

5. The friday prayers are obstructed.

Just by mentioning these few points, the person will definitely answer that I am referring to a dictatorship. The last point will probably give away that it is a muslim country.

2/26/09

12 Days to justice - PDP shedding crocodile tears


12


Days to Justice

Yesterday, the killings of our two brothers was discussed in the Kashmir assembly and the CM restated that the findings of the inquiry will be made public when the report is presented to him. He reiterated that the inquiry has a deadline, and that means that it should be out by March 7th - eleven more days. There were some promising developments regarding the inquiry and then there were some that anyone can figure were mere politicking.

I will label them as 'positive' or 'negative'

Positive: Omar Abdullah`s statement when referring to the killings of Javed and Mohammad Amin in the assembly. “I assure you the perpetrators, whosoever they are, will be punished and it will be a kind of a punishment that will set an example so that no such incidents take place in future”, he said.

Negative: Omar Abdullah`s argument for not repealing the AFSPA right away. He argues that he will consider repealing the draconian law if the, “situation continues to improve the way it has been improving.” Maybe Omar and I live in different parts of the world. The only hinderance to normalcy are the unprovoked killings, random beatings, and intolerable harassment by the Indian forces. There has`nt been a single militancy related incident for over six months. I am unsure what kind of normalcy he is referring to. I think he is just looking for an excuse and grasping at straws.

Negative: PDP`s dramatic overtures. They think they can pull the wool over people`s eyes. They think that by shedding crocodile tears now people will overlook their incompetence when they were in power. How many Indian Army, CRPF, or BSF personnel were punished for crimes during PDP`s reign? How many inquiries were called and how many of them were concluded? The answer is none, many, and none respectively.  

2/25/09

13 days to justice - They have done it before


13


Days to Justice

Thirteen days till the criminals will be brought to justice.

While focusing on war crimes by the Indian army, and the subsequent bogus inquiries called by the state government, let me recall some savage atrocities of the Indian forces against Kashmiris where no action has been taken against them, and the victims still await justice. Although were in excess of 7613 cases of rape registered against the Indian army by 2002 (Source: New York Times), I will focus on a few that have been acsertained by international agencies.

Rapes are used as a weapon of war by the Indian army because that is something that will haunt our memories for ever. Although the cases that drew international attention were perpetrated by the Indian Army in Kunan Poshpoor, Shopian and even in Srinagar; for Kashmiris, these memories are like a thousand wounds combined together and bandaged with stinging nettle, because there are thousands of other similar incidents and yet the world community witnessed them as mute spectators.

This is what Amnesty International has recorded, "... There is strong evidence that members of the Indian security forces have used rape as a tactic in an increasingly violent suppression of the campaign for Kashmiri independence. Around midnight on 10 October 1992, an Indian army unit raided the village of Chak Saidapora, near Shopian. They carried out a house-to-house search, in the course of which at least six women were raped. Among them were a woman of 60 and an 11-year-old girl called Ziatoon.That incident was just one in a continuing pattern. Over a year later, on 22 November 1993, Indian soldiers entered the village of Warapora. Sara, a young woman, was out collecting firewood. Eye-witnesses saw five soldiers approaching her. They found her dead body later that day. Her clothes had been torn off and the post-mortem revealed '... marks of violence on neck, breasts, left knee ... and extensive vaginal tear'. The Indian Government has denied many allegations of rape by its forces, claiming that they are 'trumped up ... to malign the reputation of the security forces'." (Click here for source)

How can anyone not have heard of the Kunan Poshpora war crimes committed by the Indian Army. Canadian government officials investigating human rights violations in Kashmir reported that, "..... the authorities' response to the rape of 23 women in Kunan Poshpora in Kashmir during a search operation by security forces indicated that the authorities 'have been more interested in shielding the army from charges of abuse' than in investigating (HRW 1992, 412). Asia Watch and Physicians for Human Rights state that generally the military courts are incapable of dealing with serious human rights abuses perpetrated by security forces and are used to cover up evidence and protect the officers involved ( Asia Watch and PHR 9 May 1993, 6). They add that although there is no evidence that rape is sanctioned as a matter of government policy in Kashmir, by failing to prosecute and punish those responsible, or make known any action taken against security forces charged with rape, the Indian authorities have signalled that the practice of rape is tolerated, if not condoned ( ibid., 4)..." (Source: Canadian report)

What is more horrifying is the fact that journalists representing the Press Council of India had visited Kunan Poshpur on the invitation of the Indian Army to "investigate" the incident there and after interviewing the victims, those unconscionable reporters concluded that the village females are lying and that the rape charges are baseless. Although their prejudiced opinion doesn't surprise me one bit considering the utterly biased and anti-Kashmir sentiments of the majority of India's reporters, what is disgusting is the fact that the police themselves have never investigated this incident! (Source: New York Times)

Another news item in the New York Times reported that, "A survey by Doctors Without Borders in 2005 found that Muslim women in Kashmir, prey to the Indian troops and paramilitaries, suffered some of the most pervasive sexual violence in the world..". (Source)

2/24/09

14 days to justice - Target practice


14


     Days to Justice

Fourteen days till we find out the results of the inquiry.
It is surreal to even think that my fellow Kashmiris Javed Ahmad, and Mohammed Amin of Bomai, Sopur, were alive and well just four days ago and today are part of the grisly statistics of Kashmir according to which over 90,000 Kashmiris have become victims of Indian terror.

I am just as uncertain as any other Kashmiri about the seriousness of the inquiry that has been called to ascertain the facts surrounding these murders. As if eye witness accounts are themselves not grounds enough to arrest the Indian army personnel and charge them. The longer their arrests are delayed, the more time they will have to cook up a story which they will then feed to the media later. Already, we had some buffoon of an Indian army commander claim that these youth were killed by "terrorists"; in another two weeks we'll find out what other whoppers they have in store for us.

I wish we had scrutinized previous inquiries that were called for similar incidents in the past. For instance, in February 2006 in a small hamlet called Dodhpur, in Kupwara, four young Kashmiris including an eight year old were playing cricket in their local playground when they were surrounded by Indian soldiers and were gunned down mercilessly for no reason. Readers can make up their own mind as to what hatred could cause the Indian army to extinguish young precious lives. (Read the news report here) Reading through eye witness reports of that incident, I conclude that the hatred of Kashmiris blinded those criminal Indian army soldiers so much that they decided to play target practice with those young souls. We have read about similar war crimes in other occupied places such as the Haditha incident in Iraq; therefore no one should doubt the veracity of the eyewitnesses. 

The government response was predictable and they surprised no one by initiating an inquiry to pacify the protestors and wash their hands off that incident. Not very different from what I suspect the motive was when the current inquiry about the Bomai killings was called. But I hope I am wrong; we'll find out in 14 days.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, the chief minister at the time had appointed a high ranking officer to conduct the inquiry. According to the GK report about this, 24 villagers religiously presented themselves before the inquiry officer to record their statements whenever they were summoned before him. Yet two years since that inquiry was called, no report has been published, and not a single person has been charged for the deaths of those four young Kashmiris. We now find out that the Indian army never cooperated with the inquiry. The whole process is a sham; a whitewash; a waste of time to hoodwink the people. (Click here to read more about this)

2/23/09

15 days to justice - Cheap shots


15


   Days to Justice

As per the deadline set for the inquiry, we should expect the magistrate's report by the 8th of March. I am therefore counting down the days Omar Abdullah has remaining to call for the arrest of the murderers of our two Kashmiri brothers.
Although I am certain that just as has happened in the past, the results of this inquiry will either never see the light of day, or if by some divine intervention, the inquiry is actually concluded, they will lay the blame entirely on the victims for being in the cross hairs of the Indian army personnel's rifle. If the outcome 15 days from now does not fit either of the preceding two scenarios, then the army will likely blame it all on imaginary "Kashmiri terrorists" who like to wear army camoflouge dresses and shoot innocent Kashmiri bystanders. Is that the reason that ordinary Kashmiris refer to these "terrorists" as martyrs and bury them at Mazari-Shohada?
Since I am on the same chain of thought, I might as well mention that it is a shame that day before, on the day of the murder of our two Kashmiri brothers, Omar Abdullah took a cheap shot at militants instead of reserving his condemnation solely for the perpetrators of the heinous murders. Anyone sincerely moved by the abhorrent murders would have expressed their disgust by blaming the army personnel instead of spinning this occasion to take cheap shots at the militants like Omar Abdullah did just to appear balanced to his Indian audience. It is a fact that the militants have maintained an undeclared cease fire and there hasn't been a single case of militant action in the past few months. The only time a story about militants was reported in the media was when they were being pursued by the police and military and arrested at their homes, even though they were laying low. 
This is what Omar Abdullah had to say while apparently condemning the army actions in Sopur, "Men in uniform or in khakis are bound to uphold the human rights of civilians. I can't expect this from the militants coming from across the border because they enter into the Valley with an aim of disruption...".  In other words, Omar is saying that militants are all goons and terrorists with no regard for human rights, and people should infact be afraid of the militants and look up to the killers, the RR,  for protection because it is only the militants from  across the border who have killed 90,000 people in the past few decades! 
And it is also a fact that apart from a small fraction of militants, who indulged in criminal activity, the overwhelming majority of militants were people of faith and honour. Contrast this with the Indian army and paramilitary forces. It is no secret that the more uncertainty and disturbance in Kashmir there is, the higher their probability of continuing their reign of terror in Kashmir. All analysts agree that the Indian army and paramilitary forces do not want Kashmir to become peaceful and they have a vested interest in keeping Kashmir in an atmosphere of fear.

2/22/09

16 days to justice - Ultimatum


16
  

     Days to Justice
I write this post with a heavy heart. No words can express the anger, rage and sadness that I feel about the murders by the Indian army yesterday. No words can also express how helpless Kashmiris feel at the moment. Sopur is under curfew so people don't even have the liberty to grieve.

How barbaric, uncivilized and fanatic islamist thinking of ours is it to demand that the RR army barbarians who murdered those young Kashmiris be arrested and brought to justice?

I am willing to give Omar Abdullah the benefit of the doubt that he sincerely will bring the murderers to justice.

In loss for words myself I looked around to read how others expressed their grief:

Editorial in GK
"...
There have not been any major or minor militant incidents of any consequences after the new government took over. It would not be an overstatement to say that the situation in the state is near normal. But what has been surprising that this normalcy is yet to be accepted by law and order authorities. Notwithstanding there is no move from the government for consolidating this near-normal situation by reducing the troops-civilian ratio in cities, towns and urban areas and removing barracks and bunkers from the civilian areas calm seems returning faster to the state. The incident at Sopore and other places killing innocent unarmed people for a sport suggest that the directions of the new government are yet to be recognized as command by the security agencies in the state...."

The editor further elaborates
"...The murder of innocent in Sopore, Bandipora and Kupwara constrains one to believe that some of the security agencies in the state are wittingly or unwittingly working as agent provocateurs. Such incidents can trigger a mob fury thereby causing very serious law and order situation that can undo whatever good done after majority of militant organizations have called unilateral undeclared ceasefire. Of course, the government immediately ordered an administrative inquiry into these three incidents but it is a hard reality that the administrative inquires hold no credibility. There is hardly any administrative inquiry commission that has published its findings or the government having made action taken on any inquiry reports public. Most of the administrative inquires ordered have been cosmetic..." (click here to read full article)

This would be a good reality check for the current government that people are well aware of the deceptive methods employed by them to make a bad incident go away by calling for these deceptive inquiries.

This is what Omar Abdullah had to say:

"....The 38-year-old Chief Minister said he had ordered a magisterial enquiry into the Sopore incident which would be completed within a fortnight's time. "Whatever comes out in the report will be implemented at the earliest and those guilty will be punished," Omar said, adding that he was personally monitoring the case..." (source: The Hindu)

Rising Kashmir reported that the CM has set a time frame of 15 days for the submission of this "magesterial" report.

"...the chief minister ordered magisterial inquiry into the incident with instructions that the Inquiry Officer will submit report within 15 days. He assured that exemplary punishment will be given to those found guilty...." (source: Rising Kashmir)

I am willing to give him 16 days to present the killers before the Kashmiri court of law to face murder charges. Failing which, even the ancients have preached that the pen is mightier than the sword.

2/21/09

Downward spiral

Kashmir mourns the murder of two innocent young men by the Indian army yesterday in Sopur. Mohammad Amin Tantray, and Javed Ahmad Dar were travelling in a car when the infamous 'Rashtriya Rifles' (India's regular army) opened unprovoked fire on them, killing them on the spot.

A pointless inquiry has been called, but we already know these inquiries are no more than a hogwash.

I will reserve my judgement of Omar Abdullah's response (or lack thereof) to this incident for one more day. I will wait and see whether he unconditionally condemns these murders and orders the army to handover the culprits to the local police so that they can be tried in the local courts here, or maintains his silent support of the actions of the Indian army present here. 

If he fails to condemn this incident, then we know the downward spiral of his reputation has just started, and the TRC was simply an election ploy. In that case, he should start preparing himself to get acquainted with a new label that people will slap on him which was reserved for Jagmohan till now. 

Watch out Indians

I wish Indians would realize that they are an artificial amalgamation of states pretending to be a homogenous country. They are destined to fall apart and break up into smaller countries similar to what happened to USSR. Occupation of Kashmir will just hasten their disintegration because although Obama might not express it publicly, he favours an independent Kashmir. And the more India oppresses Kashmiris, the more the public outcry in the US for Obama to take action. His supporters are the left leaning American population, who are against the Indian occupation of Kashmir .

An Independent Kashmir will work in his favour in the long run. That will be his legacy, just as Bush's legacy was an independent Kosovo, who will remember him forever, and have a street named after him.

The American interest in Kashmir's independence from both India as well as Pakistan is bound to heighten given the fact that Kyrgyzstan has asked them to vacate their bases there (click here to view story). Kashmir could fill in that shoe perfectly and according to my sources, the Kashmir American Council has been lobbying to this effect very rigorously.

As far as I or any other Kashmiri is concerned, nothing can be worse than the Indian occupation, tyranny and oppression that we have been subjected to in the past 20 years. So if my freedom comes at a price of having a permanent US base at Badami Bagh, then I would welcome that with open arms!

For more info

2/16/09

Arguing against pay raise for government employees

The strike that is underway by the 4.5 lakh government employees is unhelpful. If we sit down and crunch the numbers, anyone can see that Kashmir does not have the resources to pay the arrears and increase the salary of these 4.5 lakh employees overnight.

I like to do my research before forming an opinion on an issue, and these are the numbers I found about the state's finances and figures pertaining to employee salaries. The government is already spending Rs 4771 crores every year in paying these salaries (click here for source). If the pay commission recomendations were implemented, the government would have to divert Rs 3800 crores from other areas, such as infrastructure development, to immediately pay the arrears that have accrued since 2006. Furthermore, they will need an additional 1700 crores each year to sustain this rise in salary expenditures (click here for source). Therefore, should the pay raise be approved, the salary expenses would increase to Rs 6471 crores every year (simple math: 4771 + 1700 = 6471). This is unsustainable considering Kashmir's total revenue from all sources is Rs 15,316 crores and our total expenses are Rs 18,443 crores. As is evident, the numbers do not add up. We are already in the hole with a deficit of 2330 crores (Click here for source). We are spending more than we have and therefore in the interest of Kashmir, our financial situation does not justify this pay raise for the government employees.

And why should these employees be getting a raise to begin with? We are supposed to reward them for a job 'not-so-well' done? They have some nerves to demand a pay raise! These employees include the engineers, pathwaris, tehsildars, teachers, municipal workers, LAWDA employees, pollution control staff, medical staff, and other good-for-nothing employees who were tasked with improving the living conditions of Kashmiris. They have failed miserably; have performed a deplorable job and now have the audacity to demand a raise!

If the government takes my advice, they would cut the gargantuan government workforce and slash it to a bare minimum, so that the salary expenses are around Rs 1000 crores per annum. The rest of the money saved (almost Rs 4000 crores every year!) should be spent on development of Kashmir. Improvements on infrastructure such as better roads, civic amenities, hospitals, and cleaning up the lakes and rivers. A few good employees with the right tools will be able to perform the same job. At present we have too many slackers who are robbing Kashmir.

We are looking at 4.5 lakh useless government employees against 12 million Kashmiris who want better living conditions.

2/14/09

A special sandwich for Omar Abdullah

Be the change you want to see in the world..

2/12/09

They robbed two hours of my life, and other observations

A few stories caught my attention these past few days, and therefore this post is to express my views on those issues. This also reminds me that if any reader would like to have my views on any particular event or story, just send me a link of that story and I'll post my views on that. I usually read my paper early in the morning after I go to the local Kandur, and get my fresh lavass, and on my way back, find the newspapers lying at my door step. I prefer the real 'paper variety' of the newspapers but usually browse the internet for other sources of news as well. The friendly 'Akhbar wolle" drops three papers at my door step each morning: Greater Kashmir, Rising Kashmir, and Etalaat.

Although the main news items are usually repeated in all these papers, I skim through the opinion articles as well, and feel quite proud that there are some very good writers with whom I share similar views about the issues they are writing about. This week I saw many issues being discussed that I feel just as strongly about; one article that particularly stood out was a write-up by Samreen Mushtaq who wrote in the GK about private coaching being unethically transformed by teachers into money making avenues (click here to read the article).

There was another article that caught my eye, although it was an unconventional one. It was an article by Ghulam Nabi Khayal about a movie that he had seen in Delhi and had liked so much that he was persuaded to write an article about it. The movie is called 'Troy''. Based on Mr. Khayal's strong recommendation, which was even more emphasised by the title of his article, "If you haven’t seen TROY, You haven’t seen a Movie", I went out and bought a copy of the movie for 45 Rupees from Lambert Lane. Not only do I feel that Mr. Khayal owes me the 45 Rupees that I spent for purchasing the movie, I also hold him responsible for the two hours that were robbed from my life while watching the most useless movie ever made in the history of mankind! I cannot fathom what Mr. Khayal saw in that movie. It was horrible! But I guess movies are a matter of personal tastes; it's like some people like Lavass, and some like Csott; some prefer Csochwoor, whereas others prefer Kulche! (click here to read the article)

On a more serious note however, Ms Samreen Mushtaq's article brought an important issue to the forefront, and I wish the government would take these concerns of citizens seriously and act upon them. Before I go ahead and repeat what Ms Mushtaq eloquently explained in her article, I would like to pose a very rhetorical question: what is the most basic and fundamental responsibility of any government? A good answer to this question would most probably include: "to protect its citizens". I won't go off on a tangent and start off on an unrelated topic of human rights violations in Kashmir, which certainly is the most important crisis in Kashmir at the moment, but is the topic of another post coming up shortly. Therefore, for this post, I would like to stay on topic and argue that it is the responsibilty of the goverment to protect Kashmiris from unscrupulous people trying to profit from something which is a necessity - education.

We are all aware that the government regulates the prices of essential commodities such as meat, food items, milk and so on and so forth. This is done to prevent unscrupulous people from profiteering by hording these items and monopolizing their prices because the public has no choice but to purchase these items for everyday living. The key word here is "no choice"; and hence these are labelled essential commodities. Similarly, education is a necessity that young Kashmiris do not have a choice but to achieve by all means possible. Why should'nt similar laws be applied to education as well?

I propose that a law be enacted to completely ban private tuitions by all teachers. If these unscrupulous and unethical teachers and professors are unable to teach their subjects during regular class hours, then they have no right to teach that subject at all. If at all extra time is needed, then the school premises should be used and private coaching be done free of charge there during school hours. We are well aware how these teachers employ substandard teaching practices while at school just so the students have no choice but to seek private coaching with that teacher at his residence or coaching center, which ends up being on an average between 1000 - 1500 Rupees per subject. If students approach these petty teachers during school hours to seek help with a problem or understanding a concept, there are usually subliminal inferences from that teacher that the student should attend private tuitions that are offered by him.

There can be no justification that the teachers can provide to let them get away with this travesty.This is absolute robbery. The youth, who simply want to gain an education are witnessing a grotesque example of unethical behaviour by those who are supposed to impart them with values so these youth become responsible and steadfast citizens of Kashmir. On the contrary, these unscrupulous teachers and professors are setting a bad example of "money talks" behaviour, which the youth themselves might replicate later on in the future while practicing their own professions.

For more info

2/8/09

Vent it out of my system

This is going to be the most ridiculous of my posts that I have ever written, but as the title suggests, I want to get it out of my system and vent it out. It also is not going to be in the PG-13 category that I strive to keep most of posts as, but most likely in the 18+ section, with recommendation for strong language. (If you read movie labels, you probably figured what I am talking about). Therefore, if you're a kid under the age of 18, then swiftly cover your eyes with both your hands and slowly step away from the computer and yell for your mother. Ask her to read this post for you and translate it for you in a version suitable for seedlings - sorry, I meant school kids.

I could not get my snuggle with filthy waters out of my head easily therefore here's one more rant about it. I began to think that Kashmir has ample natural beauty to charm even the most sceptical of tourists. I doubt we need any self-centered bureaucrats trying to adulterate the gorgeous views of the hariparbat fort or the Takht-e-suleiman hills with unsightly cables and monstrous steel structures poking their ugly head out in the middle of Dal Lake.

Here's a message for the bonehead who thought of this lunatic idea! Lay your hands off our Kashmir! and don't mess with its natural scenery. There seems to be no limits to the insatiable greed of these spineless officials who simply see this asinine idea as just another opportunity to rob the state yet again. As if they havent done enough already to turn Kashmir into a cesspool and now want to destroy the natural scenery by turning it into a tangled mess of steel cables and towers sticking out in the horizon.

This insane idea of having the gondola in srinagar stands right up there with the moronic idea of turning Kashmir into a maze of ugly billboards placed on every corner and the brilliant mockery of our collective intelligence by bringing up the idea of tearing down the Ghanta-ghar that some nincompoop brought up last year as if that is the most pressing crisis facing Kashmir or as if that would have any bearing on the civic problems facing Kashmir! 

These brain-dead officials want to seem like they are doing something by suggesting these asinine projects; how about they lay off the cheap whisky they buy from the CRP in badami bagh, and think about something that would really ease the hardships facing Kashmiris and maybe make the place a bit more pleasant to live, which might just attract tourists to really think about visiting this hell-hole. Maybe they could do the unthinkable and pool in all resources to get rid of all surface drains in Kashmir. No, ofcourse not! that would be too lowly a development project for the "upright" officials because they can't hog up enough public cash to be worth their while. Or how about they do the ultimate sin a Kashmiri useless bureaucrat can do and research the idea of bringing in electric buses or the metro train. Of course not! How would these practical ideas that have solved the miseries of most major cities apply to Kashmir! The best these good-for-nothing officials could think of is the gondola!

Bringing in an electric metro train is just too cumbersome for them to even consider with too much engineering and innovative thinking involved on the useless-engineers' part! How could they even bother to think that it will solve the traffic congestion, the daily problems the commuters face, or even help tourism; because the tourists might think that there are actual civilzed people living in Kashmir who have functioning brains to solve problems such as traffic. No! the best these morons could come up with is the gondola!

Alright! it's out of my system! have a good day!

2/6/09

Misplaced priorities of myopic Kashmiri officials

Although I had intended to write about the proposed gondola project last month, I could not find enough motivation to sit down and write about it till now. Today, my everyday commute gave me the motivation to finally sit down and jot down my rant about it and protest that the government has its priorities all mixed up. My daily routine of walking upto the bus stop made me traverse through small islands of rotting garbage floating in puddles of melting slush that could be considered small lakes by themselves. I had to slug through these mini-ponds by trying to hop on small rocks and bricks while struggling to balance myself so I didn't fall into the filthy mess, which was a mix of raw sewage and freshly melted snow - the result of a clogged-up drain.

There I was trying to hop and balance while crossing this puddle in my freshly washed and ironed clothes on my way to the university when I lost my balance attempting to make the final leap. The last brick was not firmly in place, and I fell nose-down into this nasty concoction of human waste and freshly melted snow; all the while being stared by the omnipresent stray dogs who were reclining under the awnings of the nearby shops, only to get annoyed and scurry away because my fall splashed them with freezing water and interrupted their morning siesta, and how can I not mention the ubiquitous watchful eyes of the CRP personnel entertaining themselves by listening to Indian songs being played on their cheap radios in their bukhari-warmed bunkers and giggling away like little school kids while witnessing my predicament.

This made me realize, does anybody in the government have functioning brains?

How would a cable-car gondola project over the Dal Lake, which is going to cost no less than a few hundred crores from start to finish, be a tourist attraction when the dilapidated civic conditions in Kashmir will perhaps make these tourists tread through filth and cesspools? The only thing the gondola might assist the tourists in is that they'll be able to see the heaps of garbage and puddles of sewage from a much higher elevation!

If the government's sole aim is to attract tourists such as yatris; then they need not worry. The yatris will be here whether the government left Kashmir to the dogs or not (pun intended). However; if the government wishes to attract paying tourists who spend their holidays in Switzerland, Scotland, Ireland, or Goa, then they have to use common sense and clean up Kashmir. There is no secret science to the fact that people who have money and want to spend it wisely will prefer travelling to a clean and hygienic city, and definitely not somewhere where they'll spend their short vacation just to be able to see Kashmir's garbage, filth and a selection of the world's finest breeds of stray-dogs while sitting in a gondola cruising over the old-city!

For more info...

2/5/09

A fringe minority of Pandit community

No words can reflect my condemnation and denouncement of the tragic 250 deaths of Pandits that took place during the start of the insurgency in Kashmir. But it seems some unscrupulous members of the Pandit community want to copy the "success" of the zionist propaganda relating to the holocaust according to which they transformed the sad and tragic deaths of 300,000 Jews (alongwith the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Romas and other minorities in Nazi Germany) into a figure of six million Jews killed (Click here for context); which they use to justify their occupation of Palestine and ward off any criticism for their treatment of Palestinians. Similarly, some dishonest and unprincipled members of the Pandit community want to reinvent facts by not only claiming that a "genocide" had taken place in Kashmir against the Pandits, but one Mr. Raina writing in the Asian Tribune even deceives his readers by claiming that five lakh Pandits were killed in this "genocide". These are his exact words:

"If Omar has a proposal to set up a “ Truth and Reconciliation Commission” to investigate custodial killings, torture etc, he must also probe the circumstances which led to the genocide of five lakh Kashmiri Hindus and forced them to leave their ancestral land of birth. No government can survive if it continues to be Kashmir-specific." Click here to read the whole article

This sort of propaganda does not help anyone. I have nothing but the highest respect and regard for the Pandit brothers and sisters, and am fully aware that unconscientious reporters such as Mr. J.N Raina are a fringe minority in the Pandit community. I hope other people from the Pandit community speak out against these lies being propagated on their behalf.

Here is the defnition of the word 'genocide' according to the webster's dictionary:
[genocide: noun
systematic killing of a racial or cultural group]

It would be very unlikely that Mr. Raina is ignorant of the meaning of the word genocide to use it so recklessly. Everyone keeping abreast of the news knows that the first images that come to mind when someone refers to the word genocide are the killing fields of Rwanda, or the Serbian extermination of Bosnian muslims; therefore, first of all, to thoughtlessly use this word for the 250 Pandit deaths is unjustifiable (which are sad and tragic nontheless); secondly, to brazenly lie that five lakh Pandits were killed is unforgivable by any standards, given that in reality 200,000 Kashmiri muslims have been killed, tortured, maimed and victimised by the Indian troops thus far.

For more info..
1. Debate about Pandit exodus
2. Asian Tribune article

2/3/09

Fragmented voices of Kashmir

It is very disheartening to see so many different voices of freedom in Kashmir seeming to convey the same message and yet frgamented in their choice of path to reach that goal. Take Hurriyat for instance. I believe they have very noble intentions and yet because of internal disagreements within the constituents, they are a fragmented party with different ideologies trying to compete with each other to gain an upper hand. I also believe that all different organisations who think they best represent the aspirations of the people of Kashmir should learn to get along. This, they can achieve by learning how other parties function in different parts of the world. Inspite of all the bad things that can be said about American democracy, we can all learn a thing or two from them about unity, loyalty and sacrificing personal ambitions for the greater good.

The most publicized presidential campaign in history taught us something about how the political parties work in the US. There are so many different ideologies and different political views represented in each of the two parties that rule America. Yet, members and leaders of both parties learn to get along and sacrifice their own political ambitions for the furture of their respective parties. Take for instance Hillary Clinton who spared no effort in painting Obama as a muslim closet-terrorist, and yet after she lost to Obama in her bid to lead the Democrat party, she conceded and offered him her full backing and support. She even advised her supporter to do the same. Contrast this with how politicians work in Kashmir. Had the same thing happened in Kashmir and Hillary were a Kashmiri politician with ambitions to lead a party, and had lost in a similar fashion, not only would she have showered her opponent with the choicest insults, she would have split the pary, rebelled, and formed her own faction of the party called Decomcrats(H) - in typical Kashmiri style. Everyone of us knows this is true with the obvious example of Hurriyat (G) and Hurriyat (M). Only time will tell whether we will have other Hurriyat factions in the future with yet more suffixes attached to them so we can tell them apart.

What I do not understand is why we need multitudes of different parties with as many different ideologies when each and every one seems to be working towards the same goal? Why not just have an election, a debate and let members of each little party choose who is the best person to lead the movement. After this election, all opposition leaders who lost should keep their views to themselves and support the leader who is chosen.

Here are some synonyms of unity: consensus; solidarity; unification; agreement and alliance. All these words seem like alien while describing the different organizations vying for the support of the people of Kashmir, even though in reality each has a small segment of population backing them up. It seems we never learnt from childhood fables about the bunch of sticks which are harder to break when you tie them togther.

More edits later ...keep checking back

2/1/09

Omar Abdullah's other blog discovered

I just learnt that Omar Abdullah had started another blog after he quit the one on the NC website. (Click here to visit the blog) The blog is called "A voice from Kashmir".

To be honest, the only reason to have a post regarding this erstwhile unknown blog of Omar is - curiosity. No matter how much we try to ignore Omar Abdullah, he remains the most powerful man in Kashmir with the power to have either direct or indirect influence on the lives of each and everyone of us by a mere stroke of his pen. Aspects of our life such as dealing with the trigger and baton happy CRPF on our streets, beating the omnipresent traffic chaos, settling in with the heaps of garbage, litter and packs of stray dogs lining our streets or even coping with the most corrupt petty officials the state has ever witnessed.

This blog is about my observations of day to day life in Kashmir, and I cannot think of any aspect of a Kashmiri's life at present which is not affected in one way or the other by bad government policies. Bad policies that have resulted in filthy surroundings, pollution, traffic chaos, corruption, unemployment, and even oppression and torture. All these are either the burden or responsibiliy of the government of the day to rectify. This government is currently headed by Omar Abdullah, and granted Omar has inherited these problems and cannot be blamed for causing them; but he has taken it upon himself to succeed where his predecessors failed; therefore any information about the person who has such a profound effect on our daily lives and how he intends to rectify these wrongdoings by his predecessors is soaked up by people like a dry towel soaks up moisture - I am no different.

The reason for being curios about information reminds me of a saying by a wise person: "Be curious always! For knowledge will not acquire you: you must acquire it."