Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Blog Moved to Wordpress

Hola Dear friends and my dear friends, I would like to inform you that I have moved my blog from Blogspot to Wordpress. So this is going to be my last update here but the journey continues at Wordpress so if you haven't been bored by me, your are welcome to visit me there.www.alhaqumurun.wordpress.com

Saturday, May 5, 2012

May Day, Mayday!

1st of May has been celebrated as a springtime festival since 13th century and later on from 1880 it also was celebrated as labor day, to give due recognition to the working people. Here in Kashmir we are not sure whether to celebrate it or not, we haven't seen much of spring yet nor are we known for giving due reorganization to people for their work.

Since ages Kashmir has been very famous for its handicrafts, woodwork, paper-machie , silk, Saffron etc., but recently all these arts are dying a silent death. The taste of people has changed, the architecture has changed, priorities have changed and in the middle of all this change our culture is vanishing. The craftsmen have tried and are trying to survive this wave of change but the question is how much have the successive governments helped to promote these crafts. To summarize all the help that these skilful people have received nothing more should be required to be said then that these people are making every effort to make sure that their sons and daughters do not get into their father's & grandfather's trade. Recently a genius of a craftsman, the creator of "The Lonely Tree", Khazir Mohammad Qasba, died but none noticed. With death of the masters, the death of art itself will follow and with it another part of our rich culture is destined to die a silent and lonely death.

In Kashmir the thinking minds and the able bodies are being exploited in open day light and nothing is being done about it. Well what can one do when the Government who is supposed to be the protector of week is actually facilitating this exploitation.  Government took the saying "something is better than nothing" a bit too seriously and the young generation is bearing the brunt. Teachers, agriculture graduates, forestry graduates etc (many a times even PhD's) are being hired by government on temporary basis on remuneration of fifteen hundred rupees per month, yep you read it right just Rs 1500/-. This has acted as a blessing for the private players (NGO's, Private companies etc) in the state, now they have made this remuneration amount as a benchmark. Teachers in private schools are being paid around Rs 3,000/- per month but the amount that these schools show to their benefactors and Government authorities (from whom they receive grants & Donations) is not less than Rs 10,000/- (as salary per teacher). It is an open secret not hidden from any one, but still no action is being taken against the perpetrators. The Labor Department who are supposed to take action against these violators of law is a just namesake department. Just outside the office of Labor Commissioner, Batamalo ,we can observe child labor; children are working in the mechanic shops, they are working as conductors / helpers in public transport vehicles. When the labor department is so blind to something in front of their eyes then how can we expect them to check whether "Shops & Establishments Act" or "Contract Labor Act" or "Remuneration Act" etc are being implemented and adhered to or not.

The government never lets an opportunity go begging when  it comes to claiming accolades (even for someone else's work) but when it comes to punishing the corrupt, well a probe is setup and nothing more is done. This has had a very bad effect on the whole setup. Nothing moves forward unless you grease some palms. Now a day’s even the Jobs are on sale and there is a proper rate list. All this is being done unofficially but governments is even through its official policies promoting only certain class of people (elitist). The government is not providing equal opportunity to everyone to compete in competitive exams or in government jobs. The government uses High application fee for competitive exams and for applying in the government jobs as a deterrent. To describe the situation in a better way let me give a comparative example of fee structure for different posts and exams recently advertised by J&K PSC and UPSC:

Recruiting Agency
Fee (RS)
Asst. Provident Fund Commissioner
Court Manager
IFS (exam stretched over 10 days)
Asst. Surgeon (Veterinary)
Now you can yourself see and compare the exaggerated charges that that J&K PSC is charging from the candidates (who do not have a source of income). It is a general concept among the youth of J&K that whenever the government doesn't have funds to pay salary of it employees it advertises couple of posts and then forget about these post just to be remembered in time when most of those who had applied have become over-aged, then the process is repeated over again. An intelligent plan for a continuous source of income one can say.

Now coming back to the question whether to celebrate May Day or not, I think you all will agree that we here in Kashmir have nothing to celebrate. We can only cry Mayday hoping that someone will hear us, is anyone listening!

Also Appeared in "The Kashmir Monitor" http://kashmirmonitor.org/kashmonitor/05052012-ND-may-day-mayday-25802.aspx

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Forbidden Valley

From my childhood I have been hearing & have been writing umpteen number of times, that the world has transformed into a global village, but it seems to hold true only outside our forsaken valley. With each passing Day, coming to or going out of this valley is becoming a herculean task and not everyone is up to it.

 Jammu-Srinagar Highway is one of the most dangerous highways with an enormous fatality rate (almost 100%) in case of an accident. If one survives an accident on this highway it is a miracle. Now due to this reason not many people prefer to travel by road, but the only other option i.e air travel, is fast becoming out of bounds for the common people. Air travel to & from Kashmir is becoming an elitist activity. The “Maharajah” syndrome is kicking back in, due to the prohibitive cost of air travel, the only people who can afford it are the rich and powerful.

In the early nineties with Indian economy opening up, the Air Corporation Act, 1953, was repealed to end the monopoly of the public sector and private airlines were reintroduced. This was done to promote healthy competition and it was thought that the benefits would trickle down to the common people. This has been proved true for rest of India minus Kashmir.

On the Srinagar route the airlines have monopoly and the customer has no say. It is the airlines only that decide the fares and there is no one to question them. The airlines are acting as a cartel and seem to be deciding the pricing with mutual consultation, which illegal & completely nullifies the basic goal with which the Air Corporation Act, 1953 was repealed.

The civil Aviation Ministry, Central & State governments are turning a blind eye towards this issue. It is not only an issue of me not being able to afford air travel but a lot of other things are interwoven with this issue. We get a better idea what other things are being affected by the airfare by taking a look at the objectives of civil aviation ministry which are:

a)                 To ensure aviation safety, security
b)                 Effective regulation of air transport in the country in the liberalized environment
c)                  Safe, efficient, reliable and widespread quality air transport services are provided  at     reasonable prices
d)                 Flexibility to adapt to changing needs and circumstances
e)                 To provide all players a level-playing field
f)                    Encourage Private participation
g)                 Encourage Trade, tourism and overall economic activity and growth
h)                  Security of civil aviation operations is ensured through appropriate systems, policies, and practices

Let's discuss the objectives one by one:

a)      Talking of safety & security that seems to be only part that it is being taken seriously in Kashmir, in fact too seriously leading to inconvenience to commuters and they wish they had never come here.

b)      We can call the environment in which the companies operate on Srinagar route anything but liberal. If prefer to call it monopolistic because customers have no say in it and they have to accept each and everything that is being offered to them by the airlines.

c)        If we can call the prices on Srinagar route reasonable then what do we call reasonable! When one can get a stay of two nights in Bangkok, plus the travelling cost from India in about Rs 11,000 and at the same time the ticket fare from Dehli to Srinagr or vice versa is above Rs 15,000, is this what we call fare pricing (in tourism season the prices go as high as Rs 30,000). Is it that Kashmir is on a different planet altogether!

d)      Government has never been flexible to anything when it comes to Kashmir so how can we expect them to flexible with respect to air travel. People have been demanding for long for making Srinagar Airport operational 24x7, instead of the current operating window of morning till evening. This will increase the availability of the seats thus matching with the demand and taking away the undue advantage that the airlines have currently due to which they are able to charge so high charges.

e)      Government with its attitude is providing more than a level playing field to the airlines, they are giving them undue leverage to operate as they wish and to charge people as much as they can.

f)       Government is not allowing any public transport to travel from city to the airport, if you don’t own a car then either you have to walk approx 3 km's uphill or hire a private cab (extremely costly), so what encouragement can be expected to be given for private participation.

g)      Many studies and researches have shown that air transport has a direct effect on trade, tourism and overall economic growth of any region. Now at one hand Government is trying to show that it is trying to promote all these things in Kashmir but on the other hand is having a very dismal approach towards the Srinagar airport. It is not bringing its foot down on the airlines and telling them that they cannot charge customers over the sky prices. After all that was why the Air Corporation Act, 1953 was withdrawn in the first place. (h) So the civil aviation ministry & state and central Government’s have to set their systems, policies and practices with respect to Srinagar airport right.

The condition of the Jammu-Srinagar Road and the extremely high airfares to & from Srinagar only act as deterrent for people from coming or going out of the valley. This completely negates the governmental rhetoric of them promoting economic development, tourism or people to people contact. It is not something that authorities are unaware of but what amazes me is their inaction, unless it is exactly what they want, turning Kashmir into a forbidden Valley! 

Also appeared in  "The Kashmir Monitor" 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Of Traffic Jams, Water Transport & Mess

Couple of days ago one of my friend's father while discussing the days gone by told me that back in 1980's he used to travel from Pulwama to Kupwara and back each day. He said that he used to leave from Pulwama around 7 in the morning and reach Chowkibal (Kupwara) by 10 am. And I began to think is it possible to pull off this feat today and I concluded, only in one's dream.

Why is that when the whole world has shrunk (with respect to communication & travel), Kashmir seems to be expanding; places, people seems to be growing farther apart. Well for that credit must go to the highly intelligent people responsible for planning.

There are almost 9,08,083 vehicles registered with the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) in the state. Of these 5,60,690 vehicles stand registered in the Jammu division and 3,47,393 in the Kashmir division, but as far length & breadth of roads is concerned it is pretty much same as it was in 1980's. With every day the number of vehicles seem to be doubling, a lot of people can't help it but blame J&K Bank for this explosion of vehicles.

Now when the water has risen above our heads we are throwing our hands around. The Govt is talking about water transport, it isn't something new for kashmir. Kashmir, especially Srinagar, came to be known as Vince of East only because of its excellent and extensive water transport. What I fail to understand is how is the Govt going to revive water transport when all the channels have been filled and a road has been build over the main stream (Nallah Mar). Govt can Start water transport only along the river Jehlum and nothing more than that can be achieved. Thanks to some selfish morons the Vince of east has been reduced to a dustbin. These were the people who allowed construction around Dal lake (Boulevard) and removed the clause of mandatory approval from state legislature. Shouldn't these people be put on trial and punished for what they have turned Srinagar into?

Coming back to the traffic issue, Govt has been widening roads but it feels like that it has been going on for ever, never to complete. It feels like ages since the work for widening of Srinagar-Baramulla highway was started and there is no hope that it will be completed soon. The sopore bye-pass bridge even after more than 25 years has not been completed, has some one contacted "Guinness Book of World Record's" yet. Expansion of roads needs lot of effort but what I fail to understand is the underutilization of even the current infrastructure. What is stopping Govt from making both the lanes of all important Qamarwari-SKIMS road operational. These ill conceived and ill implemented projects rather than easing the travel of common people have become pain in the wrong place for them, besides endangering lives. Share of accidental deaths is more than violence related deaths now and people die for the need of timely medical attention because there vehicle was stuck in a traffic jam.

Govt has build flyovers which hardly serve any purpose (Jehangir Chowk) while where there is a real need for one, none is build due to funds shortage. It almost took an eternity for Hyderpora flyover to complete, oh wait it is still incomplete! Or at places (near Pattan) such flyovers were built which I personally am not too sure that they can be called a flyover, overhead foot bridges are broader then them. Shouldn't the Govt. be held accountable for such wastage of public money and people responsible for such wastage punished?

What all this gives us is traffic jams, lots of traffic jams and to add icing on the top the people who are supposed to handle & manage traffic, say that it is all because people don’t have sense of driving. Well my dear friends even God had to invent Hell to try to keep humans on the right path then how do you expect them to drive the right way when you don't punish them for driving otherwise. It is not a secret that traffic police is a namesake department in Kashmir, half a dozen people with nothing more than sticks to manage traffic of a whole state. There is no denying the fact that people themselves to some extent are responsible for this mess but at the same time authorities can't shrug off their responsibility.

Thinking of my friend's father's daily journey in 80's and how successful one would be if attempted today. If he/she is lucky enough will be caught in traffic jam at Pantha Chowk for only about half an hour but then for sure will have to spend another two hours stuck in traffic at HMT which will force him to start the return journey from there only. But why the hell will authorities care, it is not their lives which have been taken hostage by traffic jams.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Let's Bow-wow China

India; a nation which has been presenting itself as the rising power of the East, an economic giant and above all is the world’s largest importer of weapons ! The recent leak of the army chief's letter addressed to the PM must had been enough for embarrassing the whole nation but to add to the insult the ill timed meet of the BRIC countries in the Capital city was more than enough. So again for face saving some diversion topic had to be found and it had to be implied on the visiting dignitaries that India is not weak. Thus resulting in sealing of the entire central Dehli (where meet was to be held)and increasing the visibility of gun totting security personal. Well! this worked, as nobody bothered to check whether the guns had bullets in them or whether the similar looking security personal at each turn along the root of motorcade was a for real or just a life size cardboard cutting and above all China talked peace!

For all the security arrangements still some invincible beings managed to breach the security cordon and what is astonishing is the frequency with which they repeat the act at all sort of platforms; be it at Buddha Circuit or at cricket stadiums or at political rallies or at airports, even these beings were the first visitors of the world renowned Tulip garden of Srinagar (which boosts to be Asia's Largest) when the commoners had just to be satisfied with the sight of frowning security guard only. Our Miss Menika Ghandhi's favorite animal (Dog yes Dogs!) seem to be trying to prove the point that they can't be kept out of any action no matter on what stage it is taking place, now how could I exclude them here and run a risk of being a victim of their covert action. To me they seem to more invincible & cruel than Mossad!

Well coming back to Elephant & Dragon, one can't afford to believe the Dragon, it has often struck with its tail while smile was on its face. So the Elephant can't take it for granted that the Dragon has let this chance just go by, remember Elephants hope of exploring South China sea. Even when the Elephant was scaring the world with its tanks (good enough for scarecrows only) the Dragon had been taking large chunks of land in Laddakh region of Indian occupied Kashmir. Each time the Dragon intruded couple of Miles in the Elephants territory the Elephant was forced just to repeat the rhetoric of friendship and understanding. Well not many understood the misery of the Elephant then, but it is no more a secret.

The Dragon has been terrorizing, openly & secretly, the Elephant for long and all the owls, foxes, etc .etc, who form the Elephants advisory council had been praying to God to give them just a single chance to terrorize the Dragon back, even for a title bit. Well most of them would now be thinking that their prayers are not going to be answered in this life time. While some optimistic ones would be thinking that this is the appropriate time to hit back when the Dragon would expect it least. But hit back with what? India can ill afford a full scale war right now, it can't arm the separatists in Uighur region when it doesn't have enough arms for its own army. Well then what possibly can Elephant terrorize the Dragon.

To the respected advisory council I would Like to suggest unleashing of "Mission Bow-Wow" on China, under current circumstances this is the most feasible, cheap and a proven weapon that the Elephant can afford. Not only will the Elephant be able to terrorize the Dragon but will be able to take back the land annexed by Dragon, In addition to that there is a realistic chance that the Dragon will be forced to give up the claim of its own territory. Wouldn't it be a great win and achievement for the Elephant.

Oh! In my enthusiasm almost forgot that most of the readers don’t know about this secret weapon. Well lets not waste too much time then; this secret weapon is non other than the national animal Mexico (Xoloitzcuintli, a Hairless Dog) . They have been used as a weapon in Kashmir successfully and they have been so successful that some unverified reports are claiming that the Kashmir's are ready to give their State Subject to these angels of terror and thus their claim to Kashmir. Which means what the huge army of the Elephant couldn't do in 65 years they have done in less than 10 years, Kashmir issue resolved!

The Bow-wow brigade has been able to thrust such fear in the hearts of the Kashmiri's, who even dare one of the largest army's of the world with nothing but stones, that they don’t dare to leave their homes before or after daylight. The areas that have been claimed by the Bow-wow brigade, no one dares to tread around them. To keep their terror fresh in the hearts of these people they have made it a point to mutilate some one or the other each day. And no one dares to take action against them, unconfirmed reports claim even the no more young CM of the state doesn't dare to speak a word against them. Even If by chance some authorities try to reign the Bow-wow brigade, Menika Ghandi with some friends from New York comes to their rescue even without them requesting for it.

Now you tell me can this this mission fail? Yep that is what I said, not a chance in this world. So what is the Elephant waiting for, let's Bow-wow China.

This also appeared in "The Kashmir Monitor" http://kashmirmonitor.org/04072012-ND-lets-bow-wow-china-24148.aspx

Monday, March 26, 2012

Kashmir's Human Resources in Disarray!

A recent survey has revealed that Jammu and Kashmir has the highest rate of unemployment among the northern states of India. Unemployment in itself is a big monstrous problem but J&K, especially Kashmir is fighting against a bigger monster (violence and turmoil). More than often the state machinery portrays the first monster as the mother of the second monster, making it more important to tackle unemployment more seriously and in a proper way.

For any State which considers unemployment as its greatest nemesis the first step towards taking it head on would be setting up of an efficient and highly active Human Resource department. Well the state of Jammu & Kashmir has setup Human Resources Management units (HRM units)in five Govt. departments (Health and Medical Education, Power Development, Public Works, School Education, PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control) rather than a central department. The main aim with which these units have been formed is to exclusively look after seniority, promotion, vigilance cases etc in these departments. Well I would say it is an ill aimed move in the right direction and thus a waste of a very important resource. A well designed HR tool can take care of the seniority list or promotions list, these should had been add on activities of these units rather than exclusive. A better use of this resource would be made by employing them to fine tune the HR Policies of these departments, all the ruckus that arises in different departments regarding hiring or promotions is due to wrong or unclear HR policies, it would help in nipping bud at the base altogether . Recent report in an English daily (Greater Kashmir, published from Kashmir & Jammu) has revealed that as many as 18817 posts are vacant in 18 Govt department. Well this revelation puts a big question mark on Recruitment Agencies and makes the establishment of a central HR department altogether more important. The central HR department can decide and design HR policies for all the departments, do all the HR related work and at the time of hiring they should decide requisites of any job, based on ob analysis (eg qualification, experience etc required) and then forward it to recruitment agency for hiring (PSC or SSRB). This will result in better clarity, better coordination and better accountability (no blame game).

The second step would be to have a proper recruitment policy (in other words, hiring policy, which becomes first step of HR dept.). By recruitment policy I mean a proper well defined rules, who should be hired for what, which should be backed by logic & reason and should not be based on whimsical thinking or should not be twisted and turned for the benefit of near & dear ones. One can find umpteen number examples where the existing policy (in J&K) was twisted to give undue advantage to certain people. And at other times due to lack of clarity wrong people were (are) hired. It is said that the hardest part of job of a HR professional is to find an appropriate person for a job and hiring him. Well in J&K we seem to ignore the importance of this very basic fist step. It can happen only in Kashmir that for a post of labor officer candidate having a degree other than MBA-HR (one who has studied Labor welfare & law)is given preference or where for teaching a management subject the corporate experience is given no importance Or where a student from Barkatullah University (localy known as BOPO) or Dehradun is given preference over a student from Kashmir University or Jammia Millia or Jammia Hamdard or Aligarh Muslim University etc ! More recently the J&K public service commission advertised for the post of Court Manager and MBA set as the required qualification. But again due to lack of clarity problems seem to arise, the PSC authorities are very reluctant in accepting applications from candidates who have PGDM (Post Graduate Diploma in Management) which is approved by the AICTE ( All India Council for Technical Education) . MBA degree can only be awarded by a University and PGDM is awarded by autonomous education institutes, even the IIM's don't award MBA they too award PGDM! This needs to be addressed immediately.

Let us try to understand the recruitment procedure (mostly followed by SSRB, Universities, Colleges, Schools and other Private Companies in J&K) for any post in any department in J&K; be it Govt, non-Govt, Permanent or contractual. The first step of the recruiting agency is to advertise for the post, in the notification itself it is mentioned that the selections will be on the basis of merit and then details the distribution of Marks for different aspects are listed as such:

Degree Marks
Phd 5
M.Phil 3
B.Ed 15
Masters 10
Interview 20

Now when the response in form of applications come in overwhelming numbers, the recruitment agency has to come out with a short list (merit list) as to who have qualified for interview. Now it seems to be a good policy, but what we don't pay attention to is how this short listing is done. For short listing they take in to consideration the percentage of the qualifying degree, with out taking into consideration from which ( college or university) the degree has been earned from . Well we all are well aware and understand that all education institutions can't stand on the same pedestal in terms of their student selection process or education imparted there after. So now I ask you is short listing on basis of only percentage (when students of Prist etc have marks %age well above 80 even 90, while students from reputed college only lay between 70-80 ) a good way of gauging talent. Now let me put it this way, can a student who competed on all India level to get admission in a certain college be held equal to a student from PTU (Punjab technical University) or PRIST or any other such institute, wouldn't it account to being unjust. I am not saying that students from PTU etc are not good enough, what I am trying to convey is don't mix cream with rest because after wards if you try to search for cream it would be same as searching for a needle in heap of hay. The process directly reflects in the quality of the employees that are being hired by different department, these are same people who are entrusted to serve the public in general, Teach our kids in schools & Colleges, sit in chairs of high responsibility and decide what is good for us and what not. Now taking into consideration the far reaching effects that a wrong person can have on the society at large, who would you want the responsibility to be bestowed on?

A better way to deal with this problem is by clubbing different college or universities into groups (Tiers) (A,B,C,D). Then at the time of short listing or selection process giving preference to the students from upper most tiers. Now you would say that the process of forming this list (Tiers) is time consuming and needs discretion as to which college should be included into which tier. To all those people who have this question in mind would like to tell them, well somebody else has already done this hard work for us we just need to compile. NAAC & AICTE (many other private bodies) give recognition and ratings to colleges and universities. We can make use any one of them or a mixture, but the thing that needs to be kept our mind is what ever we choose should be able to satisfy our needs, if not completely then most of our needs. Later on when the Human Resource Department of our state is competent and efficient enough we can make our own list. Where ever need for screening test is felt & is feasible, it can be included in the whole process.

This will increase the quality of the new hires drastically thus slowly having an affect on the over all working of the whole Govt. and Non-Govt. apparatus. This will make the whole procedure more just and transparent. To make this system more effective it needs to be communicated in a very robust way to all the stake holders. And hopefully we will see less litigation after any selected candidate list is released, thus time and resources will be saved. The bright minds will stop cursing themselves for working hard and getting admissions in good colleges and Universities. I am not claiming that this is the Solution of all that is wrong but over all this can be the first step towards the adoption & implementation of the world renowned Human Resource Policies in J&K.

This Article also appeared in "The Kashmir Monitor" http://www.kashmirmonitor.org/kashmonitor/04012012-ND-kashmirs-human-resources-in-disarray-23803.aspx

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Loss of Pain

This article was first published in Bloggers Park (Jan 2012, edition).

It is a weekend and to add icing on top it is the last weekend of year 2011 and where am I; in Kashmir’s biggest hospital (SKIMS), among the dead and those waiting to be. You would say I don’t have a life, yep true my life doesn’t matter the last time I managed to run a check. I Am a Kashmiri and to make things worse a Muslim, not a good combination to have in this part of the world!

This particular hospital is very famous (or should I say infamous) among the Kashmiri’s, a local (kind of) legend has grown around this hospital according to which, “from here either you leave cured or you leave dead”. Some sections of the society blame this particular characteristic on the name itself {Sheri (Loin of) Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences}. Many a times the issue of name change has been raised and there was once Shakespeare saying, “What is in the name”. In this hospital almost every 6 hours there are couple of deaths in a ward.Here I saw people wailing over there dead and the whole atmosphere of ward, with almost 50 other patients, turning very gloomy and heavy and at the same time a small room in the corner is upbeat with smiles flying around and smiles turning into laughs occasionally due to some funny joke being shared. This upbeat room belongs to no other but the doctors! You might be thinking, how unsympathetic, rude and ill-mannered our doctors are. But the question that is rising in my mind is, “How and what made these people so immune to other peoples pain?”

This same question had risen in my mind couple of months ago when Amnesty International in its report had disclosed the discovery of the Mass Graves in Kashmir valley and the subsequent response shown by the international fraternity, politicians and the media at large. Even the general masses behaved as if nothing significant had been uncovered. Is it because the people have seen too much bloodshed and no amount of killings will move them now or is it because of the fact that these deaths didn’t affect them personally? While I was brooding over this, there came another possible reason, perhaps people were just too busy earning their livelihood and making ends meet. The later seemed to be more logical and human, as I couldn’t accept the first two causes which would simply mean that we no longer are humans! Accepted the fact that the masses are fighting for their livelihood and hardly have time for anything else, what happened to the institutions which the masses had entrusted for upholding the social and human morality. It seems that these institutions (elected representatives, NGO’S, Media

etc) have themselves become morally corrupt and chose economics over morality. All chose not to speak about it, but when someone else (Mr. Steve Baker, British parliamentarian) tried to highlight the issue and bring it in notice of the world fraternity the Indian Parliament raised the issue of their authority of discussing India's internal issue (even when India is the largest beneficiary of British foreign aid) rather than discussing the issue itself! And simultaneously with help of some jokers an attempt (I must say a successful one) was made to divert the attention in some different direction by raising some non issues like, Cinema’s, Liquor and skillfully transforming them into issues, they also raised some genuine only to help them in diversion like AFSPA . So what do we do when entrusted breach our trust; we introspect a little, take the reins in our hands and show them that we can’t be taken for a ride.

Whenever I hear the term Mass Grave in no instance the scenes from the movie “Behind the enemy lines” flash in front of my eyes. The movie got 1 award and 2 nominations because of good acting by Owen Wilson & co. and the importance of the issue which it brought among the masses. Now trying to bring forth magnanimity of the issue in Kashmir let me put forth some figures and facts. The Issue of Mass Graves in Kashmir is not a standalone issue but with it is entangled the issue of torture and enforced disappearance. When we talk about torture it is the most underreported phenomenon in Kashmir, it seems that both authorities and people have accepted it as a norm. If you go to any village almost every single person has been tortured be it physically or emotionally not just men but women, children and even old. I happened to read recently about the torture of a 60 year old man on www.projectcensored.org narrated by Parvaiz Khurram, Liaison of the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-Administered Kashmir (IPTK), “I have documented very horrible cases, but this is the most horrible.” The army kept a 60-year-old man in solitary confinement for one month. During that time, he wasn’t given anything to eat, but his own flesh. They cut the flesh from his body and served it to him. This was all he was given to eat for a month. Recounting the torture Parvaiz said, “This was something that shook me. We have hundreds of Guantanamo Bays here. Why is nobody talking about it?” there are more gruesome stories like these; Kunan Poshpora: a village, where woman were mass raped by Indian army


Sopore Massacre on 6th Jan 1993 http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,977469,00.html

These are only a few and there are many more but the thing is who will report them to you!

In July 2011, the State Human Rights Commission of Jammu and Kashmir (SHRC) released a report documenting 2,156 (according to Amnesty the number is 2700) unidentified bodies in 38 graveyards People are fearing that the dead in the mass graves are those who were reported disappeared (enforced disappearance) and to add to their fears 574 bodies (out of 2700) have been already identified as disappeared locals – 17 of these have already been exhumed and shifted to family or village grave sites. So if we are to deduce that all the disappeared people found their way to mass graves then the numbers are going to increase many folds, almost 8000 people have been reported disappeared till now. Recently more mass graves have been identified and investigation regarding them has started. Here would like to mention that till 2004, 16500 bodies were recovered from mass graves in Bosnia (considered to be this centuries holocaust, even a movie “Behind enemy lines” was made regarding this issue). Now you can imagine the magnanimity of the issue and amount of human rights violations that is happening in Kashmir. Even now should we turn a blind eye and accept anything and everything in the name of national interest and security. Don’t you feel that it is our moral duty to raise our voice against the injustice and human rights violations?

It will not be wise to blame security forces only for all the rights violations (Mass Graves) out and out; no doubt they are responsible and should be held accountable but there are others equally responsible. If the media had showed a little bit of interest and investigated the story a bit they would have added a new dimension to the story. They didn’t do it that doesn’t mean we can’t do it, so let us try to retrace the footsteps leading to Mass graves. As the mass graves and enforced disappearance are linked so following one should reveal something about the other. If we try to figure when did people start disappearing (or when did the process of disappearances intensify, at the same time let me clarify the process is yet to cease) it overlaps with the birth of Ikhwan (the dreaded pro Govt. brigade). Now let’s try to answer another question who created Ikhwan and we reach the erstwhile people who are in power even now in the state. So it is not so surprising after all to figure why they created a comedy circus to divert and distract the attention from the burning issue of Mass Graves. They were trying to cover the footprints which led to their home.

Even after all this pondering was not able to figure what made the doctors immune to others pain. Finally gave up my so called intellectual quest and decided to ask a Doctor. So I went ahead and shot the question, “how & what makes you so immune to others suffering?” bemused , staring at me, doctor not knowing what to say say he could just utter “What!!!” so understanding that he never expected this question, I slowly broke it down to him exactly what and why I want to know. So doctor took some time and finally said that it is due the combination of a lot of things; during degree it is made sure that you don’t freak out seeing a dead body so you are given a lot of exposure wrt dead bodies and experiments, then when you join hospital as an intern you have long, hectic work hours and you tend to work on lot of seriously ill people all of whom don’t make it. It is sort of conditioning, which is very necessary to make you emotionally strong as it is very much needed in this profession. Hope we as a society are not being treated to same sort of conditioning by the media and other institutions to make us emotionally strong and with a promise that we are going to enjoy the loss of pain!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Kashmir's Eternal Wait For The Leader

Kashmir is remembering Maqbool Bhat, the founding leader of the Kashmir Movement who was hanged by Indian authorities in Tihar Jail, under controversial circumstances on 11 February 1984 and buried there only. Ever since people of Kashmir have been demanding the return of the mortal remains of their Leader but Indian authorities seem to be so afraid of what Bhat stood for that they can't even afford his dead body to leave Tihar Jail, thus making him an eternal prisoner of Indian Democracy.

Kashmir has transformed from a solvable dispute into a sort of Hilbert's Problem. For the achievement of this feat the credit must be given to the Leaders (Indian, Pakistani & Kashmiri). The dilemma of the forgotten conflict ( Kashmir) is that it is one of the least represented conflicts and yet every Tom, Dick, Harry presents himself as the well wisher of the godforsaken people of Kashmir. With time the three parties of the conflict have added many sub groups and each group having its own point of view of the conflict. Thus there no more are only three parties to conflict (in a micro sense), this has only complicated the issue.

From time to time, need for unification of Kashmiri Leadership has been felt. And on days like today (Maqbool Bhat Day) the topic of Kashmiri Leadership becomes talk of the town. People of Kashmir know the importance and value of leadership, but still Kashmir is divided, Kashmiri Leadership is divided. After Shaikh Abdullah Kashmir has not seen a Leader who could unify people behind him like he did, people followed him with an unwavering belief (what he did with that belief, lets not discuss it right now). Since then Kashmir is waiting for its leader.

Why has the wait been eternal? For that, in addition to socio-political, the mental (Psychological) status of Kashmiri's needs to be into account. The people of Kashmir have seen some great betrayals. Many a times the hopes of the people have been raised sky high only to be smashed. These betrayals have made people apprehensive of the every person who presents himself as their Savior. Kashmiri's have evolved to believe that for them to survive they have to trust none. Such an environment put extra pressure on the genuine people and at times the pressure & scrutiny is so intense that people find it feasible to bail out mid way rather than carry on. Public seems to be only waiting for any flimsy issue to raise it head and it is good enough reason for them declare him/her a traitor. So under such condition; where people are afraid of another betrayal, another sellout, the wait is meant to be eternal unless for any divine intervention!