Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Some random but angry thoughts....

The media is as bad as the politicians....During the Kargil conflict, Indian Army sources repeatedly complained to Barkha Dutt and her channel that she was giving away locations in her broadcasts, thus causing Indian casualties.
Do they learn from their mistakes NO
1.Hemant Karakre dies tahnks to their footage of him entering the hotel
2. DNA India reports about a UK couple ask media to report carefully:
The terrorists were watching CNN and they came down from where they were in a lift after hearing about us on TV.
— Lynne Shaw in an interview.
3.In one instance BD asks a husband about his wife being stuck, or held as a hostage. The poor guy adds in the end about where she was last hiding. Aired! thank NDTV for not censoring this bit of information.
In another instance, a General sort of suggests that there were no hostages in Oberoi Trident. (Clever.) Then, our BD calls the head of Oberoi, and the idiot confirms a possibility of 100 or more people still in the building.
Where are the ethic here.....aren't the security of the victime and the defense personnel involved of primary importance ....should the media not have sense to withold key information....and please the lame excuse that after Karkare's death TV 's were put off in the hotel....did anyone hear of SMS's or what not............

In the Enough is Enough Panel Discussion "moderated" by Barkha Dutt the panelists are Luke Kenny Kunal Kohli, Simi Grewal??????????????????????????????????????????
what is this??????????????????????????some bollywood take off on the tragedy................who wants to hear what they have to say..............

Such gems we have collected:

1. RR Patil
2. Deshmukh
3. Kerala CM who is refusing to apologize to Major Unnikrishnan's family for his deragatory remarks
4. Bharatiya Janata Party leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, on Monday, came up with a gem equating people protesting against politicians as terrorists.
5.Earlier Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had offered money to the widow of slain Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Kemant Karkare whom he had branded a villain just a few days ago
6. Amar Singh doing much the same in the case Delhi Police Inspector RC Sharma.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Indian Spirit and the Need for Action

Before I comment n the terror attack, I have to say I am shocked and grieving for the loss of human life. My prayers go out for all those who lost their lives in the Mumbai attack and may God give strength to their families and loved ones.

I will post my take on this incident but first I want to begin on a positive note and a promise to my country.

I read that Superstar Amitabh Bachchan has turned down an invitation of former US president Bill Clinton for a fund-raising event in Hong Kong, saying he is "not going to sing and dance" when the country and his city bleeds.

"I cancelled. I am not going to leave my country in this troubled hour to travel to a foreign land to lend cause to a foreign initiative, patronized and guided by a foreigner, for his benefit !! I need to see initiative here in my country," he wrote in his blog.

Cashing on this sentiment I think its high time India rose to this occassion ....asked the right questions, and is involved proactively. We blame the govt. the police etc etc etc...but do we blame ourselves for this mess?

We are equally to blame.
We elect these officials.
We choose not to vote.
When an honest officer is given transfer as a punishment we do not come together and protest.
We avoid security checks and look for ways to fool the system.
We do not demand and raise hue and cry for upgradation of the army, salaries for teachers.
Do not demand that Police be only accountable to the law and not the executive wing of Govt.

We fight about North Indians in Mumbai.
We ridicule the poorer states in India.
We squabble over language,religion, caste and regional superiority.
We celebrate malls being built on fertile agrarian lands and then lament our growing food dependency on other nations.
We do not learn from our mistakes.

But what we have going for us is:
We have a history and culture of tolerance, greatness and the ability to fight our own wars on our own terms.
We are resilient and strong and bounce back each and every time.

We will NOT say Chalta hai this time....We will stand united and strong.
We will start a revolution/kraanti of Vichaar/ thoughts, vyakti/individual and vitt/resources.
So let us do it for we CAN.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Obama Dream

As the euphoria over the Obama victory mellows down, I am still on a slow burn. I know this historical event which I was witness to, will remain a corner of hope and inspiration, in my heart and mind for decades to come.

Why did the Obama victory have such an universal appeal? Taking my own case for starters, I am political but not have been an avid follower of the ups and downs of the Republicans and the Democrats. But the Obama victory was beyond simple politics. Or that is how I choose to interpret it. It was about possibilities. It was about really believing in your dreams and it was about dreams coming true.

Keeping aside the fact that is is being considered one of the best run election campaigns in years and the fact that the economy lead to people clamoring for a change lets look at the other side of the story. A people's journey from the shores of Africa, shackled and treated worse than animals, completely stripped of basic human rights and dignity. A life of abject poverty and misery. The 'negro' staggered along what he considered his destiny. But many amongst them refused to submit and thus started the civil rights movement. The long fight for freedom, equality and opportunity began.So many names and so many historic milestones in that long and arduous journey.

The point being that someone or some people refused to believe that some thing or anything was unattainable. They dared to dream and their dreams were backed by courage and conviction. Obama is the climax to that dream. He has a tough task ahead. But I am not here to discuss that today. I want to speak about the tears flowing freely from the eyes of civil rights activists that election night, when the results were declared. I saw redemption unfolding slowly but surely. I saw a sparkle in the eyes of the African Americans. The next morning I saw them holding their heads a little higher, and noticed a skip in their steps. And I rejoiced with them.

I imagined this is what my country must have looked like, my countrymen must have felt the same range of emotions and more on 15Th August 1947. They must have felt invincible and unstoppable. A victory over the strongest imperial nation. Freedom from centuries of foreign rule, 347 years to be exact. A nation with leaders like Gandhi who were a force to reckon with and changed history forever. Gandhi inspired freedom movement in South Africa and also the Civil Rights Movement in US of A.

Our freedom fighters left us a legacy. A legacy to believe in oneself, to dream and to go after those dreams with courage and conviction. A dream that is India united in all its diversity. A dream which hangs by a thin thread today.So what stops us? Why is it easier to blame the system, the politics, the society versus owning up to the fact that we are a part of that very system, politics and society. We have taken for granted a freedom so hard fought. We shrink everyday into our little religious, regional, caste, class linguistic and cultural groups. We fail to rise and expand beyond these compartmentalizations. We love to discuss all that is wrong over a hot cup of tea without taking onus for anything. We refuse to take action till the bullet hits home. As long as its the neighbor who took the bullet we do not feel the need to act.

We do not vote. If we vote, we vote for our relative, "jaat wala" or someone who hails from our village/town/city. We choose to ignore the fact that the man/woman we voted for with whom we share the last name will do no justice to the position we are putting him in.

I think its high time we too voted for change, voted for hope,voted for freedom, voted for our children, voted for peace and harmony, voted for a better tomorrow. Let us rise above our affiliations and vote for content and character.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

So Proud of America Today!!!

History has been made today. A triumph for America and in many ways for the world too.The Americans have risen above race and voted for Barrack Obama, an African American, as the 44th President of America.

The Americans showed today that the color of the skin was not an issue for them. I was profoundly affected by what civil rights activists had to say. Especially Civil Rights activists who fought for equal rights and thought that they would not live to see an African American run for the President's office let alone win it. The sight of Jesse Jackson crying silently, moved me, as did the look of awe, hope,and renewed faith in the eyes of so many African Americans. This emotion is not limited to the African Americans though and is shared by one and all...a belief that dreams can and do come true.

A quick observation: Loved McCain's extremely gracious speech and equally loved Obama's victory speech, which filled and I guess many others with hope,hope for a better future, a better world.

As an an Indian and more importantly a Global Citizen,it was key for me that Mr. obama made a reference to climate change, terrorism and the importance of democracy and universal peace.

Its late and I am riding high on the euphoria all around. I have to say, that I am so proud of America today. I wish Mr. Obama, and America all the best, and pray for peace and harmony for the world.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My thoughts on the Mail

My do paisa on this:

Though I am no Sherlock Holmes I am guessing,this mail has definitely been composed by a Maharashtrian and in in all likelihood I would have agreed with this wholeheartedly if I was a domicile of the state of Maharashtra and a person who has been momentarily blinded and possessed by "Sons of the Soil" sentiment.

First of all the mail begins with a reference to the suicide of farmers in Maharashtra, which is also a common phenomenon in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.These farmers are cotton farmers and the reason for their suicides are government apathy, the absence of a safety net for farmers, and lack of access to information related to agriculture. The detailed report has been submitted by TISS, Mumbai, my Alma mater, as requested by Bombay High Court.

I am not investigating all the legal angles in this mail and am assuming they are true. What is interesting is that though this mail says that it is not justifying the violence, it also says and I quote, "But has there been any choice Left today ???" LOL. Sick.

I wonder if the composer of this mail ever heard of something called PIL (Public Interest Litigation?) If the law and the clauses therein are so discriminatory to one particular "Zone" why not fight it out legally, rather than beat up poor students form a poverty stricken and politically defunct state. Or is Maharshtra not a part of this country? As far as the question of bearing the burden of BIMARU states like Bihar, MP, UP, Orissa goes...what should one do? cut them off and not deal with them at all. Let the people get poorer there? Suicides in Maharshtra are terrible and death related to abject poverty in Bihar, Orissa, MP, not the problem of a person holding a Maharashtra Domicile Certificate. Or has that person owning the prized domicile forgotten that he is first an Indian and then a Maharashtrian?
(BTW Bihar/Magadh was the richest, most educationally advanced state some centuries back. Now the tables have turned and, one never knows when and how soon it will reclaim its lost glory).

College admissons and employment should happen based on merit and domicile certificate is what the mail suggests. How stupid is that? Coming from a state whose fortunes are based almost entirely on one city Mumbai and Mumbai's success based almost completely on Gujratis, The Ambanis, and Parsis, The Tatas ,who originally hail from Jamshedpur, which is in erstwhile Bihar and now a part of Jharkhand, the solution is hilarious. Or probably the author of this mail has never visited "outsider" unfriendly states like Bengal, which have hardly any big industries. Or the state of Jammu and Kashmir which is governed by the draconian Article 370 which prevents non state subject from owning land in J&K amongst other things. Well J&K is like one big ghost town , banking heavily on tourism alone. There are no businesses, industries and the young have left their hometowns to earn a livelihood.By stopping non state subjects to be a part of the infrastructure the worst affected are the state subjects themselves. Most of the Jammuites including me pray for a day when Article 370 will be removed, non state subjects be allowed in our state, new businesses, and employment generation will definitely follow.

If all the major industries and big businesses of Mumbai were sent back to their owners', state of origin , Maharashtra would be bankrupt today.Bollywood, which is such a big industry was started by the Kapoors, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Anands,Kamal Amrohi of the yesteryears and more recently dependent on Chopras, Barjatyas, Ghais, RG Vermas, Roshans, Bachhans.

I wonder what happens to the Central and private/deemed institutions and research centers which are amongst the cream of the nation like, TISS, IIT, Bhabha Atomic Research Center, TIFR(Tata Institute of Fundamental Research).

The composer of the mail never heard of give and you will get more. My advise to you Mr. Writer...look at the bigger picture and beyond your regional loyalties. There is very little difference between you and the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin who drove away the non Ugandans from his country. At least think of all the successful and happy Maharashtrians outside their home state ..so many of them doing so well in the US and elsewhere. Are they not cheating locals of their jobs?

The last line of the mail actually makes me sick to the stomach and I quote again " Let them also be aware of the Situation that may happen to their Jobs as well". What is he trying to warn us of? There are not many jobs in Bihar, Orissa, MP etc.......lets see you fight for development, job creation, poverty eradication, in these states, which are very much a part of our country too.

"Sons of the Soil" merits an equally impassioned mail about and solely about the failed agrarian sector in Maharshtra which is pure in its Maharshtrian essence/fabric and has not been diluted or rather adulterated by the Marwaris, Gujratis, Parsis and the "Bhaiyyas". It would have actually done a lot good to the state and the Marathi Manoos.

Fight the unfairness in a law, do not challenge the nation state and threaten its unity.

Someone Sent me a Mail

Someone sent me a mail. And I am copy pasting it here because it is pertaining the Railway recruitment scandal, raj thackeray and the anti North Indian sentiment whipped up by him.

Sorry if u don't agreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
A time will come in Maharashtra when, just like the Farmers in Maharashtra, the Graduate Youth of this State will Commit Suicide !!!!
This situation will arise because, All the Jobs in Maharashatra then, will be Occupied by Non- Maharashtrians. Non Maharashtrians here means not people from North India, South India, etc., But those People who are Not Domiciled In Maharashtra. Similar situation may happen to people of other states too.
Railway Recruitment Board aspirants are Brutally Beaten Up !!!
There is large scale Rioting in Bandra, Kalyan, etc !!!!
THINK. Why this Situation has come up ???
The Actual Truth is this :-

Since Independence India's States were formed on the Basis of the Local Languages. Logical. Since 1976, The employment criteria of the Central Recruitment Board was divided into zones as per the General People of India. This division was based on the Local Language of the States.
Zone-A Bihar, Haryana, HP, MP, Rajasthan, UP, Andaman, Delhi formed the Hindi Speaking Zone.
Zone-B Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab & Chandigad, the Non Hindi Speaking Zone.
Zone-C Southern India States like Kerala, Karnataka, etc. & North Eastern States like Assam, Mizoram, Bengal etc.
The Central Employment Rule said that 'All Exams for Employments in the respective Zones shall be Held in the Respective States Only.' So that the Local People may get the Jobs in their Home Town.

Very Logical. For 30 Years everything was going Fine.

But since 1987, there was a Minor Change in the Rule 9 Part 9.2.2, for Zone -B Jobs. And this was made a Rule since 1988. This change was that 'As an optional Language of employement, People of Zone-A can Apply for Jobs in Zone-B.' This opened up doors of Employement for All Zone-A aspirants in Zone-B areas.

But with this Clause there was a Sub-Clause, stating ' The Notice of Jobs in Zone-B areas for Zone-A aspirants, May be given in Zone-A Areas only.' Because of this, Recruitment Notices for Jobs in Maharashtra, etc. are Displayed Only in states like UP, Bihar, Rajasthan, etc. But these Notices are Seldom displayed in Newspapers of Maharashtra, etc.

So this time, for the 3000 Railway Posts in Maharashtra, 12000 Aspirants came from Zone-A areas. The Result of this is that, the Un-employed of Maharashtra is Remaining Un-employed. This will surely lead to Suicides in Due Course.
Many Parties over these years Requested the Central Recruitment Board to Cancel this Clause. But this was Not done. The Result of this is, the Large Scale Beating Up and Rioting Today. This violent means is Not Correct. But has there been any choice Left today ???
This mail is Not to Justify Violence, but to show to you how some Politicians, by Modifying some Rules, have Subtly ensured that their Constituency people get Better Employements. Why should all these Politicians hold rallies in Maharashtra ???

Today many TCs, Booking Clerks, GRP, in the Mumbai Railways are from Zone-A areas. This is a Fact.

What Should Be Done ;- College Admissions and Employments should be Given on the Basis of 1)Merit & 2)Domicile Certificates.
Agreed, 10-15% Out of Maharashtra People may be Allowed. But First Think of the Sons of Soil. This should be applicable Not Only in Maharashtra, but also in other States.
Read and if you agree kindly Forward to Not Only Marathi People, But also to Non-Maharashtrians. Let them also be aware of the Situation that may happen to their Jobs as well.

My 2 cents follow in the next post.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Laloo and Raj

In all fairness when I ranted and raved about Raj Thackeray yesterday, I was not completely aware of Laloo's role in the Railway Exams. Apparently the information about the upcoming exams was published only in local papers of Bihar. Hence Raj and his boys cried foul play and instead of bravely taking on the bull by its horns decided it was easier and more attention and headline grabbing to beat up the North Indians particularly unarmed and innocent UPites and Biharis.

I wonder what are the "Bhaiyas" from Jaunpur/Gorakhpur and remote poverty stricken places in Bihar who drive autos and taxis , guilty of? Many autos and taxis were attacked by the MNS bullies.

My do paisa on this: I wish RT was a true leader and brave enough to beat up Laloo. I am sure even the people of Bihar would have thanked him. I hope someone tells him that India is still a democracy and weas citizens of this country still bound by laws. And beating up innocent people and spreading hatred and regional intolerance is shameful.

Newsflash: Shiv Sena in an effort to keep up with this hate race is promising a "bigger movement" on the issue of unfair representation of Maharashtrians in the railways. Senior Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi said in the Rajya Sabha that the people in Maharashtra would not "tolerate" outsiders coming to the state.

"Outsiders will come (to Maharashtra). This will not go on," Joshi said sparking protests.

So the nautanki continues.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hail The Emerging Ku Klux Klan in India

I am still busy and finding it difficult to take out time and write. But I was just too furious to give this a pass.
The blue eyed boy of Mumbai or so he likes to think of himself has elicited such a reponse from me. I am talking of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray. He wins the "Fresh Face/ Best Newcomer" award for the Ku Klux Klan annual awards hands down.There were many contenders, in the race, Article 370, seperatists in Kashmir, Hate All Hindi Speaking Groups in Tamil Nadu, The countless Brahmin/ Rajput/Kayastha/Vaishya/etc etc etc Samaajs, Ranvir Sena, SIMI, Bajrang Dal,Khalistan Supporters, Osama lovers, Dot Busters in New Jersey who targeted Indians in the 1980's................................

But all of them and many more are yesterday's news. Today the buzz word is Raj Thackeray. And I guess this is what he wanted anyways. A spoilt child throwing temper tantrums to get some attention. Well the spoilt child more often than less breaks some expensive and precious items in the process. So Raj Thackeray, is determined to tear and mutilate the tolerant, all embracing,cosmopolitan nature of Mumbai. He is destroying the very essence of Mumbai. I think he missed the staple of our childhood: DD's beloved "Ek Titlee, Anek Titleeyaan"...the Anekta mein Ekta message.

He and his Maharashtra Navnirman Sena attacked and disrupted and brutally attacked North Indian Railway Exams and its North Indian candidates. Supposedly they were angry with unfair representation of 'locals' in the exam ..whatever that means..And yes freedom of expression has been stretched thin by Mr. Raj Thackeray and his party. Goondaraj at its best. Xenophobia at its best.

I wonder what this self procalaimed Messiah of the Maharashtrain People has to say about this:

1) Succesful Maharashtrains in the US of A. These Maharashtrians moved to the US for purely economic reasons. The wanted to make more money and had dreams of a better life. Beware my dear Maharashtrain friends who are outside Maharashtra for economic and other reasons. You have no right to make a honest living if it is outside Maharashtra according to RT's logic.

2) All the Maharashtrian actors like Madhuri Dixit, Nana Patekar, Sonali Bendre, Amol Palekar, Shreyas Talpade..............should be punished for working in Hindi movies, going by the same logic. They should have stuck to Marathi Theatre and films.

3) How dare the women of Maharashtra wear Salwar Kameez a traditional attire of North India. Its sacrilege. They should sweat it out in their 9 yard saris.

4) Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and other local parties should remain - that local. Please abort all nationalistic dreams. Local parties elsewhere are not given a fair chance when you open party offices in other states.

5) When there is an an external attack/ or God forbid natural calamity in Maharashtra, what should the CRPF, BSF and the Army do? Wait for RT to decide if the North Indian officers have the right to act in Maharashtra or will that too be seen as an anti- Maharashtra conspiracy.

Well RT you are not going far with this ideology. "Mla Marathi yet nai" should not become a crime however much you wish for it. The latest is that RT got arrested in Ratnagiri though he had threatened that Maharashtra will burn if he gets arrested. Shudder Shudder!!! All I have to say to you Mr. RT grow up and get a life or atleast a new political strategist.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Kripya Prateeksha Karien

Some of you have been curious about "De Militarize Civilian Kashmir" on my Orkut profile. Well if truth be told the addition of that by-line/statement/one liner/whatever is the emotional, humanist me. I have been asked questions about it...questions filled with curiosity, accusation, betrayal, surprise, anger too. Admittedly there have been some heart felt thank yous and good job's too. Reactions varying in nature and in intensity.

But the explanation for it is where this article's title comes in...Kripya Prateeksha Karien..:) You will have to hang on for the revelation :)
I am not guilty of trying to build up the mystery but am simply pressed for time.

I have too many things on my plate these days and I am at that point in my life that I ask myself the following questions everyday...

1) What was I thinking???????

2) What day is it today? At least 3 times in one day.

3) When did I last comb my hair? I mean really run a comb starting from my roots to the end of the hair shafts.I know that is how one combs but if you have long hair and have been really busy at any point in your life you know what it is to comb on such days...gather all your hair up and tie it in a fashionably messy bun/knot high up on your head. I am convinced, this hairdo is deservedly called 'fashionably messy/sexy bedroom hair' and really I am too busy to even consider or care about a different opinion.

4) I have driven and then suddenly jolted into a state of high alert when I realize I drove for the last 10 minutes not really knowing where I was driving to.

5) I have been guiltily and not so guiltily and frequently popping miniature Hershey kisses..a sign that I am under stress.

6) I have been writing dry one liners in response to some of my dear friends long mails...I am so sorry, I promise I will make up to you guys. And for those dear dear friends, whom I should be calling..please dont give up on me. The phone will ring ..sometime...soon..

So hang on, I will land soon enough. To all those who have praised me for my multi tasking, muaaah, I love you all and your words keep me going. And for all those "I told you so's" and tsks tsks on my insane schedule...drop it ..I will never learn and never change. I am a moth driven to the flame. This flame of intellectual stimulation and challenging myself to the point where it can also get mentally and physically challenging.

But this moth would die without this flight to this flame.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Child Trafficking in Flood Affected Areas in Bihar

How evil can evil get? Evil is not human and definitely has no emotions except for more evil. These are some thoughts that flitted through my mind when I was mailed a report of increase in trafficking in flood affected areas in Bihar. I mean, is there no end to depravity? How can one do this really? It has to be evil within, which allows for actions of such nature.Here are some facts for you about the trafficking and the good work being done by Bachpan Bachao Andolan, A Child Rights NGO (BBA), :

1) There has been a spontaneous increase in human trafficking, in particular of the children from Saharsa, Supaul, Araria, Purnia, Madhepura, Katihar, Sitamarhi and other flood affected districts. It is not difficult to see the large number of traffickers luring away children from the flood prone villages, relief camps, bus stations, and railway stations in these districts- all in the name of providing relief from this flood.

2) Rescue operations since 26 August 2008:
More than 100 complaints were received and 22 children between the age group of 8-13 years have been physically rescued by BBA,activists from the clutches of traffickers from Saharsa and Katihar railway stations. These children told in their statements that the traffickers had given an advance amount to their parents and promised to take them to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and other cities.

3) Legal action: 5 traffickers have been arrested and cases booked against them for trafficking of children. Legal action would be initiated against all perpetrators of trafficking.

4) Government actions: BBA has written letters to the Prime Minister bringing the situation to his light, and to railway authorities and the district magistrates of all affected districts to prevent trafficking. Upon BBA’s appeal, the District Magistrate of Saharsa, Mr. R.Laxman met with the railway authorities to step up vigilance in the railway stations and prevent trafficking.

5) Recorded messages relayed at Saharsa railway station: Recorded audio messages of the appeal are being relayed through an audio system in the Saharsa railway station. This has proven to be very effective and has had a huge impact in generating awareness. BBA plans to replicate this model in other places as well.

6) Awareness among flood victims: In Saharsa, Madhepura, Katihar, Darbhanga and Araria, BBA activists have reached all relief camps in the area. The activists and volunteers are generating awareness against trafficking through the word of mouth, posters, leaflets, radio messages etc.

7) Training of and coordination with local NGOs and religious workers is being done to sensitise the people on trafficking.

8) A 24 hour helpline is being initiated in Delhi where complaints about children being trafficked would be taken and immediate necessary action initiated.

9) Media action: Electronic and print media – news channels, dailies and magazines would be mobilised to sensitise and generate awareness among the people and the civil society as well. Advertisements would be aired, audio messages relayed and press releases issued. This would have an impact on the general public as well as the government bodies.

10) People’s Commission: A people’s commission on child trafficking of flood victims is being proposed by BBA with some of the most reputed and acknowledged individuals in Bihar.

Some Links:


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mumbai Meri Jaan

I have lived in Delhi for three years and then anther 3 years I spent in Mumbai. I was in the college hostel in Delhi. The hostel had ridiculously strict rules and me being the typical fresh faced small towner rarely ventured out or ventured too far. But whenever I did, I faced always without fail some kind of eve teasing, or sexual harassment. Travelling by public transport was nearly impossible and taking the autorickshaw not only expensive but no safer. In fact the auto driver would also end up fleecing me thanks to my ignorance about the city and rigged meters. I was always struck by how no one seemed to be inclined to help a damsel in distress. I was also told by a fatherly auto driver that he avoids taking young female passengers after 7 p.m because he has been hounded by men in cars, catcalling and indulging in far worse. He told me he could not stand such behavior but felt helpless and preferred to not put himself in such a situation.

As opposed to this Mumbai where I did my Post Grad was refreshingly and surprisingly different. It is an egalitarian society where the top financial analyst and an average Joe would travel by the same train and by the same compartment even. In case of a 'takkar'/ accident the auto driver could get out and fight it out with the driver of the Mercedes car without the fear of hearing " tu jaanta hai tu kisse baat kar raha hai" dialogue commonly heard in Delhi. The public is disciplined to the point of being awe inspiring. I have seen long queues in bus stands snaking past the overhead shed and standing in order, come sunshine or rain. The auto/cab drivers seem so professional and one is never cheated. There are some exceptions though especially at Dadar and Kurla station. But these are few. I have also accosted men for eve teasing with a confidence that the 'aam junta' will support me and beat the perpetrator to pulp. I even found the Mumbai Police more approachable versus their Delhi counterparts. I could travel freely and without fear in Mumbai at odd hours. The lone police constable in the ladies compartment of the local train after 9 pm was always a reassuring sight.Simply said I love the energy and the people of Mumbai.

I am not starting a Delhi vs. Mumbai debate.I mentioned Delhi because that is the only other metro besides Mumbai that I have lived in. And I will now directly come to the point....

What is Raj Thackeray doing with the spirit and the image of Mumbai?

What is this insider vs outsider clash? The last I heard nothing akin to Article 370 applies to the state of Maharashtra. When did living in Mumbai and despite loving it , it was anti-Marathi/maharashtrains to mention your birth place and speak in your native tongue.

”When in Maharashtra, they must act like Maharashtrians. They (referring to SP) must adopt our way like saying Mumbai and not Bambai,” Shishir Shinde, MNS (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena)spokesperson.

Shiv Sena has been debating for quite sometime now whether to push for a more inclusive Hindutva identity or to stick to its regional Marathi Manoos identity - sons of the soil versus migrants.

Raj Thackeray took advantage of this and has become the born again messiah of the Marathi Manoos.....defending them from the evil North Indians. He has been attacking one and all...from Bollywood demi Gods like Amitabh Bachhan, Shahrukh Khan to Mumbai's Joint Police Commissioner, K L Prasad. He has been holding the city to ransom with threats of violence.

Issues like water, congestion, pollution, thoughtless urbanization , health, etc become non issues in the face of Mumbai vs. Bombay, North Indian vs. Maharashtrian.....

So who really is a Mumbaikar?

Jammu vs. Kashmir, Mumbai vs.North Indians.....different players, a new playing field but the same game, with a dash of local flavor respectively.........at stake the upcoming assembly elections........

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Driving in the Rain

My daily ritual includes driving through a park - a park which unlike the parks back home is a heavily wooded area. The small winding road is lined by huge trees and one is fooled into fantasizing that it is a drive through a thick forest. I choose this route over an alternate quicker one. Because this drive through my 'forest' never fails to bring some sort of peace and tranquility to my frazzled, over worked and sleep deprived mind.

Today morning when a million thoughts were vying for attention I eneterd my 'forest' and it was like someone switching off a harsh flourescent bulb in favor of a soft romantic table lamp. I have noticed how messy rooms look cleaner, people in the room more beautiful, the ambience suddenly more romantic just by a small change in lighting. The same happens to me when I enter this 'forest'. The lines creasing my forehead suddenly relax. The clamoring thoughts silenced. I swear even the music playing in my car radio suddenly seems to get better. A smile plays on my lips while my eyes feast on nature's bounty.

Today it was raining heavily and as I channel surfed through the issues in my head...troubles ailing Jammu & Kashmir besides a zillion others...I entered my 'zone'. And what a sight it was...a green like no other green, the branches of those majestic trees heavy with raindrops, little puddles everywhere, a wet squirrel darting in and out...it was wet and green and wet and green...
It reminded me of cycling back from school under the gulmohar trees, the smell of rubber..the'duckback' raincoats, the music and romanticizing the rain endlessly in the college hostel, the not so pleasant wading through knee high rainwater in Mumbai, the ducking under heavy 'rajais' and hugging a 'kangri' during bone chilling winter rains in Jammu, pakoras, munching on a 'garam bhutta' while soaked to the skin in Lonavala, the daily evening rains in Nigeria,running around gleefully as a kid with my brother near Lake Geneva and finally dreaming dreams of spending many a days watching the rain from my cozy little cottage up in the mountains some day..................

I do not remember the last time I got wet in the rain with a sense of absolute joy and abandonment. I will get back to my endless, sometimes pleasant and sometimes not so pleasant musings and to my political blogging but for the moment I thank God for this beautiful earth and this beautiful life. Let there be Peace and Let there be Rain :)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Discrimination : Myth Or Not?

I was planning a post on the Indian Army/CRPf etc in Kashmir and why there is an immediate need for de-militarization. But this post is inspired by the comment or rather article cut copied and posted by my friend Shah who is now my most avid reader and my best critic.

To my other readers please read the 7th comment for the previous post by Shah. This post is in response to that. This is also a cut copy paste from Jaidev Jamwal's researched data.Thanks Jaidev.

Compare size and population of Jammu Vs Kashmir. Jammu is bigger with more voters, but pays more taxes almost 2/3rds of total. Then see what we get less of a lot of things.

1) TOTAL AREA (sq KM)-----------Jammu 26293````````Kashmir 15948

2) VOTERS------------------------ Jammu 3091193`````Kashmir 2986670

3) LOK SABHA SEATS------------- Jammu 2 ```Kashmir 3

4) STATE ASSEMBLY SEATS------- Jammu 37 `````Kashmir 46

5) REVENUE COLLECTION ---- --- Jammu 70% `````Kashmir 30%


a) Electricity(2007-08)
Target---- Jammu 417 crore`````Kashmir 519 crore
Realised ---Jammu 443 crore ```Kashmir 246 crore

b) Sales Tax since 1957-2007--- Jammu 2474.8crore ````Kashmir 1075.2 crore

6) a)Non-plan Expenditure------- Jammu 35% ````` Kashmir 65%

Notice the discrepancies and compare the size and population of 2 divisions.
Each figure is in crores and it refers to the 8th and 9th Plan respectively.

1)Agriculture____ Jammu 57.6 ---Kashmir 104.5 ~~~Jammu 147.3 ---Kashmir 253.7

2) Irrigation____ Jammu 91.1---Kashmir 136.6~~~Jammu 112.7 ---Kashmir 210

3)Roads & Building __Jammu 144.2 ---Kashmir 247.2~~~Jammu 229.3---Kashmir 403.6

4)Health ______ Jammu 123.8---Kashmir 135.34~~~Jammu 229.3--- Kashmir 274.45

5)Tourism ______ Jammu 15.2---Kashmir 34.39~~~ Jammu 34.9 --- Kashmir 58

6)Power______ Jammu 516.75 ---Kashmir 775.1~~~Jammu 56.94--- Kashmir 85.4

7) Sewerage____ Jammu 2.9 ---Kashmir 6.8~~~Jammu 6.2---Kashmir 14.6

8) Drainage____ Jammu 20.37---Kashmir 47.53~~~Jammu 27.84---Kashmir 64.96

Details compiled from J&K State Govt sources and

Though it may seem like a Jammu VS. Kahmir debate, it was not intended to be so. Though it will probably turn into one in the near future. I had to put these facts up to throw light on what is really happening in the State and why the people of Jammu who suffer an identity crisis beyond their state borders stood up unanimously raising their voice for their rights. This was not a communal issue but more of a fight for our rights to land and property in our own state. The land was not going to be used for a training camp for the militants, it was not for an institution which would hold mass conversions...it was going to be used for no subversive activities.

It was for some necessary provisions for the yatris. There are no clean, private toilets, no hot water and the the pilgrims are fleeced by the locals and charged 5-10times for everything. A piligrim is charged anything upwards of 1800 rs. for spending one night in a cloth tent shared by 5-10 other people in sub-zero temperatures and occasional snowfall, landslides, hail and rain. 250 pilgrims died because of bad weather conditions in the recent past. Was a demand by the state subjects to provide basic amenities to pilgrims too much to ask for?

The peaceful protests by the Jammuites, despite anti-national comments like....'this is our land, agar le sakte ho to le lo"...and "We will not give an inch of our land"
is a measure of the kind of people they are. The Dogras and Ladakhis of the State who had long decided that they are an integral part of India have to suffer because of the indecisive, misguided and leaderless Kashmir. I do not condone the call for 'Azadi' but I do not support it too. But being labelled as communal pushes me against the wall. I too feel like calling for 'Azadi' ...azadi from this troubled paradise, azadi from obscurity and invisibilty of my region and azadi from the Article 370 which ruins my chances to live 'normally' in the nation state of my choice.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

So What Was It All About? Part 2

Amarnath Yatra has been a shining example of communal harmony, sufism in Kashmir and the composite culture of the state. So really what was it all about? If things were so simple , no land was being transfer ed to anyone permanently,no permanent structures were being planned,the local populations depend on this yatra for economic reasons, what was the hullabaloo about. I am grappling with this fundamental question and am debating between which of the conspiracy theories to choose from. The theories in question are:

1. PDP decided that it was not winning any big battles read seats in the 2009 elections and needed something to lean on for a decent show in the upcoming elections. What better than Hindu vs Muslim, us vs them ploy which never fails to disappoint. I have no doubts that PDP and Mehbooba Mufti are to blame for starting this mess. What Ms. Mufti did not expect I guess was a resounding response from the Jammu region which has no history (in the last 61 yrs) of any kind of political activism. The situation quickly spiralled out of control with separatists in Kashmir finding new vigor and voice. This separatist angle does not suit the PDP too. Hence as a saving face gimmick Ms. Mehbooba has been calling for starting trade between POK and Kashmir and the opening the Muzzafarabad Road. Unfortunately for her and funnily for the rest of us, many PDP ministers have been beaten and their cars stoned by the local Kashmiri Muslims, during this entire land drama. I do not see them winning too many seats after all.

2. Mr. Prem Shankar Jha who is called an expert on Kashmir and is just that in my opinion. He is not an expert in the history and psyche of the people of the Jammu region. Mr. Jha has mentioned a land scam, where land was going to be sold for ridiculous prices and it was a big racket which went bust. Well if we were to believe that then it is quite likely that the some of the parties involved wanted a bigger portion in the scheme of things and when that did not happen like a bad player decided to ruin things for the rest of the players. Again I have a feeling they did expect or were prepared for the game to be completely hijacked by the separatist voices in Kashmir and by the suddenly awake, alive and kicking Jammuites.

3. What was glaringly absent was Mr. Prime minister's direct and intense involvement in the issue. All the cry about economic blockade, could the Center not have air lifted the 'baby food'which was scarce amongst other things in the valley and shut the separatists up. The Home Minister of course has proved he is not suited for the job. This whole things reeks of the opportunistic politics Congress excels in. It did not want to get its hands dirty just before the upcoming elections. It played safe at the cost of a troubled state becoming more divided.

4. The hostage crisis left the separatists labelling it as a staged encounter by the Indian Government. If true it only reflects the sorry state of the region's politics. Though the recent build up of militants on the border should put things in a different perspective.

5. Pakistan would have had marathon parties to celebrate what was happening in J&K if it was not too busy cleaning up its own internal mess. From the impeachment of Musharraf to the recent US attacks on its soil against its innocent civilians, it should really focus on things ailing them. Though the state of affairs in J&K was an excellent opportunity for Pakistan to add to the activities of its Department of Kashmir, The Unfinished Agenda. It made grand statements about protecting the Human Rights of the Kashmiris and appealing for international intervention, all the while breaching the cease fire and allowing militant build up n the border and aiding their infiltration.

The State of Things as they are now:

1. An awakened Jammu which has found its lost voice finally. Such a large scale people's movement has not been witnessed in the country in the recent past. We will see more political activism from this region in future. BJP by supporting this people's movement stands a good chance of winning the maximum seats if not all in this region. If tomorrow the Sangharsh Samiti decides to contest the elections, undoubtedly they will be the winners hands down.

2. An awakened and renewed demand for freedom in the valley. There will be debates and discussions and maybe the freedom movement in Kashmir will take a new direction, under new leadership.

3. The Amarnath issue has brought to sharp focus once again the HR violations in the valley. There is a need for de militantization and de militarization for a return to normalcy. It is a must for winning the trust of the people and giving peace a serious chance.

At the end of the day I am thankful for the political awakening of the people of Jammu. That is how I see it irrespective of the communal labels applied to this movement by the so called experts. As far as I am concerned no real experts on the Jammu region were interviewed in any of the TV debates or interviews.

The cries of Bum Bum Bhole and Nizame Mustafa reiterates the fact that the line between religion and the civil society are very hazy and easily overlap at times.

The burning of the Indian flags and cries of Jeevay Jeevay Pakistan throws light to the nature of separatist leadership and the separatist voices in the valley.

I am grateful that Human Rights violations have been thrown up for discussion once again and hopefully measures will be taken to correct and improve the conditions in the valley.

I am thankful that questions about the return of Kashmiri Pandits have been raised once again and maybe the new blood in the valley who say that they want their Pandit brothers back will march to Delhi/Jammu/ Muzzaffarabad or a place of their choice to demand a return of the KPs.

All the economic losses suffered by the state is a terrible waste.

I am also sorry for all the innocent lives lost and the lingering bitterness between Jammu and Kashmir.

I am hopeful that the state known for its natural beauty, will witness a revival of Sufi Kashmiriyat and communal harmony and bounce back to its full glory.

So What Was It All About? Part 1

I went out of the state for the weekend and when I came back all was back to 'normal' in Jammu and Kashmir, or atleast in Jammu. There were huge victory rallies in the Jammu Region after the retoration of land to the Shrine Board. Basically the cancellation of the land order has been revoked and we have arrived at status quo. The most important points of the order are:

A. The State Government shall set aside for the use by Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, exclusively, the land in Baltal and Domail (Compartment No. 63/S, Sindh Forest Division) comprising an area of 800 kanals, traditionally under use for the annual Yatra purposes.

B. The proprietary status/ownership/title of the land shall not undergo any change.

C. The Board shall use the aforesaid land for the duration of the Yatra (including the period of making the required arrangements and winding up of the same) for the purpose of user by various service providers according to its needs and priorities.

'The aforesaid land shall be used according to the Board's requirements, from time to time, including for the following:-

i. 'Raising of temporary pre-fabricated accommodation and toilet facilities by the Board;

ii. 'Establishment of tented accommodation by private camping agencies (locals, permanent residents of the State);

iii. Setting up of the shops by shopkeepers (locals, permanent residents of the State);

iv. Facilities for Ponywallahs and Pithuwallahs;

v. Provision of healthcare and medical facilities;

vi. Setting up of free Langars by private persons and groups which are licensed by the Board;

vii.Facilities for helicopter operations/ parking of vehicles;

viii Arrangements of security by local police/para-military forces and other security agencies as per the arrangements in place here-to-fore; and

ix. Undertaking measures relating to soil conservation, land protection and preservation of ecology.

It has further been agreed that the Board shall continue to remain responsible for the overall arrangements of the Yatra on both the routes during the Yatra period, including all arrangements as mandated under the provisions of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Act, 2000 A.D.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What were they thinking?

Today as every Indian news channel is recounting the horrors of the 16 hour long hostage drama in Jammu, Jammu is still reeling under the shock of the incident and is warily coming terms to the fact that some of the militants are supposed to be still missing. The valley is maintaining a stoic silence. And I am wondering what some of these people were thinking?

* The BSF personnel who discovered that the fence on the Indo-Pak border had been cut and militants had infiltrated at 12:30 a.m on Tuesday. The fact that they hid in the bushes for 30 hours undiscovered before venturing out, is not being looked upon kindly by the civilians and villagers of the surrounding area.

* The driver of a load carrier auto No. 5843 JK02C at village Gadla in Lalyala area of Kanachak sector.He was Darshan Lal son of Leelu Ram R/o Gadla, Kanachak. Two militants took positions on front seat of the auto and forced Darshan Lal to drive.

* The five or six Gujjars who along with their large milk containers were also sitting in back portion of the auto. One of the militant sat with them in the back. The militants were wearing ‘khaki’ dresses of police which they had brought with them from Pakistan and were carrying assault rifles, ammunition belts, grenades and some other devices.

* The police/army personnel who tried to intercept Darshan Lal's auto carrying the 3 militants and the innocent Gujjars at various check points.

* What did Havildar Netar Singh and Sepoy Yashpal, both from Ist JAK Li, think before they were fired at by the militants at an Army naka outside Kanachak Dak Bungalow.

* Naib Subedar (JCO) VVK Parkashan's last thoughts before he got shot and died on spot at Domana.

* What was Army jawan Sepoy Pal Panion of 61 Field Regiment thinking as he chased the auto on a civilian’s motor-cycle before he too was shot at by the militants and injured seriously.

* A Gujjar Muslim identified as Mohd Shabir tried to grapple with the militant sitting on back portion of the auto in a bid to snatch his weapon. The militant threw him out of the vehicle near Domana and opened firing on him but he survived the shots. What was he thinking?

* At Keran Patian Darshan Lal's auto stopped and the militants hijacked another auto.The auto was being driven by Havildar Vijay Kumar son of Sita Ram R/o Keran Patian, who had come to his house on leave from his place of posting at Jaipur and was driving his father's auto to reach to the main road from where he was scheduled to leave for Himachal Pradesh.
Vijay Kumar categorically refused to give lift to the militants and was shot dead. What was he thinking when he heroically refused to drive and what is his family thinking now?

* The militants, rendered without a vehicle, then started targeting civilians and opened firing on a motor-cycle killing Showkat Hussain son of Saif Ali R/o Khairi, Bantalab. Showkat’s brother, a police constable who was sitting behind on the bike, had a narrow escape in the firing. Another constable, Joginder Singh too survived the firing.

* The militants tried to enter into the house of another Subedar (Retired) JCO Naseeb Singh son of Vidhu Singh but he too resisted the attempt and was gunned down.

* Two labourers, moving in the village, were also shot at by the militants and injured seriously. They have been identified as Uttam Acharya son of George Acharya R/o Assam and Ragha Behlev Rai son of Berin Rai R/o Bihar, both of whom were putting up at Keran Patian. Assam and Bihar... so far away from home to make a honest living. What are they thinking as they struggle to survive.

* 60 year old civilian Sarasa Ram son of Mangi Ram R/o Chinore suffered a heart attack after hearing sound of gun shots during the gunbattle and was rushed to GMC Jammu where he breathed his last.

* The villagers of Keran Patian were sleeping at 6:15 a.m and most of the houses were bolted form inside. The militants tried entering a few houses and failed. The villagers must be thinking what if they had not bolted their doors which is not very unusual in a small town/village, what if....

* Billo Ram's house was unfortunately not bolted form inside as Billo Ram had gone to Government Medical Collge/ Hospital for treatment. He had beenbitten by a snake. A neighbor was present in his house at the time besides Billo Ram's mother, 35 yr. old wife, 4 children, the oldest being 9 and the youngest being 2, his brother-in-law and a tenant who is also a teacher. What did all these people think when they saw these militants barging in early in the morning with AK 47s and hand grenades.

* What went through Billo Ram's mind as he heard the news and rushed back from the hospital. What was he thinking for the 16 hours...the time it took for this hostage drama to end, not knowing whether his family was alive or not.

* What went through the 35 yr. old Sunita's mind, mother to the 4 children as she hid in a room with her brother. How did she explain all this to her children. How did she shush her crying 2 yr. old and pacify her frightened 3 yr. old. I am also wondering what those children ate or did not eat for those 16 hours. It is being reported that when the hostage drama ended Sunita had a gunshot wound on her thigh and she was rushed to the hospital. The children it is said took 2 hours to come out of this shock.

* And finally what went on, through the minds of those Pakistani terrorists who killed so easily and were ready to die so willingly. How had they been brainwashed? had they or their families been promised money, or was it the lure of 'jannat' or the 76 or so virgins awaiting them in heaven?How do you learn to hate so? Really, what were they thinking?

I can only mull over these questions and make conjectures. The questions bothersome and the answers even more difficult.

Monday, August 25, 2008

UN Resolution of 1948

There has been a lot of talk about the right to self determination and plebiscite as decided by the UN. I would like to skim through some essential points to highlight how the involvement of both India and Pakistan are important for holding a referendum and why it failed in the first place.

Lots of Pro Azadi and Pro Pakistan Kashmiri Muslims have been alleging that India is solely responsible for the failure of the plebiscite not taking place.

Well following are some points which need to be understood.
There is a misunderstanding that the resolution contained only a plebiscite. The resolution contains three steps in sequence.

a)Cease Fire(was implemented and the result is present day LOC)

b)Truce agreement(produced BELOW)


Often the plebiscite is quoted by Pakistani authorities without the mention of truce agreement.The logical step should be implement Cease fire—Truce agreement—and then Plebiscite for Kashmiris to determine their fate.

The Resolution of the U.N. Security Council of August 13, 1948 to which Pakistan was a party but observed it only in its breach reads:

Part 1 was the Cease fire agreement which resulted in LOC.

Part 2 was truce agreement which was not respected by Pakistan

Simultaneously with the acceptance of the proposal for the immediate cessation of hostilities as outlined in Part I, both Governments accept the following principles as a basis for the formulation of a truce agreement, the details of which shall be worked out in discussion between n their representatives and the Commission .
1. As the presence of troops of Pakistan in the territory of the State of Jammu and Kashmir constitutes a material change in the situation since it was represented by the Government of Pakistan before the Security Council, the Government of Pakistan agrees to withdraw its troops from that State.
2. The Government of Pakistan will use its best endeavour to secure the withdrawal from the State of Jammu and Kashmir of tribesmen and Pakistani nationals not normally resident therein who have entered the State for the purpose of fighting.
3. Pending a final solution, the territory evacuated by the Pakistani troops will be administered by the local authorities under the surveillance of the Commission.

1. When the Commission shall have notified the Government of India that the tribesmen and Pakistani nationals referred to in Part II, A, 2 hereof have withdrawn, thereby terminating the situation which was represented by the Government of India to the Security Council as having occasioned the presence of Indian forces in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and further, that the Pakistani forces are being withdrawn from the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the Government of India agrees to begin to withdraw the bulk of its forces from that State in stages to be agreed upon with the Commission.
2. Pending the acceptance of the conditions for a final settlement of the situation in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian Government will maintain within the lines existing at the moment of the cease-fire the minimum strength of its forces which in agreement with the Commission are considered necessary to assist local authorities in the observance of law and order The Commission will have observers stationed where it deems necessary.
3. The Government of India will undertake to ensure that the Government of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will take all measures within its powers to make it publicly known that peace, law and order will be safeguarded and that all human and political rights will be guaranteed.

4. Upon signature, the full text of the truce agreement or a communique containing the principles thereof as agreed upon between the two Governments and the Commission, will be made public.
Government of India and the Government of Pakistan reaffirm their wish that the future status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people and to that end, upon acceptance of the truce agreement, both Governments agree to enter into consultations with the Commission to determine fair and equitable conditions whereby such free expression will be assured.

Since there have been Pro Pakistan slogans in the valley , I questions the logic behind this love for Pakistan. After reading the UN Resolution, anybody would find it difficult to justify the school of thought which touts that Pakistan is invested in the interests and welfare of the people of Kashmir.

In my opinion the azadi movement glaringly lacks true and honest leadership. Geelani is unquestionably on Pakistan's payroll and has made it clear that he defines an Azad Kashmir as a Kasmir which is part of Pakistan. There are many in the valley who clearly do not want this and are being mislead by this kind of leadership. Some Kashmiri Muslims claimed that the chant 'jeevay,jeevay Pakistan' to incite the CRPF, the Army etc.They fail to see that the Pro Pakistani leadership wants them to do so because they want to provoke the armed forces, pray for casualties will follow, consequently adding more fuel to the fire.

The true azadi seekers, need to , reflect,re think , re strategize and realize they are being taken for a ride.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Cause of Secularism

I am Secular, and I am a Humanist. I am a Hindu.I am a Dogra from Jammu and I am also an Indian. Secular and proud to be a Hindu does not go together or atleast not considered true these days. Especially if you are a Dogra from Jammu and feel that the the cancellation of the land order to the Amarnath Board should be revoked.

I would not have wasted my breath proving my credentials but I feel the voice of the Jammu people is not reaching the mainstream. If you have seen any national TV debates recently you will know what I am saying. The Jammu region is sadly lacking a good orator. We are not comfortable with English and the region's representatives are seen as either incoherent like the Samiti convenor Leela Karan Sharma, or sounding like a right wing activist like Mr. Jitender Singh. The best of the lot is Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed, from the Jammu Bar Association. He is coherent though looks like he will break down as he is unable to put his point across and is pitted against word savvy opponents like Farooq Abdullah and Mirwaiz.

Because of this lack of good speakers the regions case is not being presented properly. The media has always sided with the underdog. The underdog here being the Kashmiri Muslim. Shockingly amiss is the Kashmiri Pandit viewpoint. If they do get the pandits on these debates the time allotted to them is miniscule. It is surprising how the media has forgotten that they are the underdogs here, with no home or hearth. Lack of media attention and oratorial skills has caused the right wing activists to exploit the situation. Pravin Togadia of VHP said it is a 'religious issue' and the entire nation read the Hindu nation supports the Jammuites. BJP supports Sangharsh Samiti and hence another reason for the issue to take on a communal tinge. The Samiti convenor Leela Karan Sharma is or was associated with RSS so that does not help either.

The fact that 48 other organizations are backing the Samiti is ignored.The fact that it is a People's Movement and has gone on for almost 60 days is inconsequential.The fact that the Samiti asked BJP and VHP to back off so that the issue is seen in its true light is given no due attention. The Samiti prevented Advani and Rajnath Singh from addressing rallies in Jammu. In yesterday's 'jail bharo' move the Gujjars who are Muslims also courted arrest. Gujjar Leader Fazal Din has been leading the Gujjars in this movement.Areas like Poonch, Doda, Rajouri, Kishtwar which have witnessed demographic changes with the migration of Hindus to Hindu majority areas as a result of terrorism has also witnessed protests in favor of the Samiti. Mostly by the remaining Hindus in those regions and the Gujjars.

Of course the forces trying to communalize the issues are working overtime. The breakdown of the long secular history of the region is critical for vote bank politics.

Glaring is the absence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's direct and visible involvement. The PM has been referring to the issue in J&K in speeches given at different venues.The Government in the Center has messed things up by its slow and delayed response.

The issue once again is:

1.Why should High Court Order which allows for building of temporary structures for pilgrims in the Baltal forest which otherwise is uninhabitable be revoked because the seperatists or political leadership in the valley did not approve. The pilgrimage is for a duration of 2 months in a year and some sheds are necessary due to inclement weather conditions. Some 250 pilgrims died in a snowstorm last year. The Shrine board is a body consisting of State Subjects and rumors were spread that it was not so. There were no efforts to dipel the rumors that the land would be permanently transferred to the Shrine Board. All land is under the jurisdiction of the Government.

2. Why should it be possible for the Kashmiri Muslims to buy property, do business and study in Jammu if the Jammuites cannot do the same in the valley. Jammuites are also state subjects and under the Article 370 entitled to similar rights.

The underlying problems of discrimination with the Jammu region thanks to an appeasement and cover up policy of the Center favors the valley.

The Valley has a seperate agenda, that of wanting freedom or azadi. Some want a merger with Pakistan but most, want to have nothing to do with either Pakistan or India.As a seperatist Kashmiri Muslim friend of mine said he wants absolute freedom, not a merger with Pakistan.He told me that he feels leaderless.He said,if the choice was only merger with Pakistan he prefers to settle in Bihar. Another young Kashmiri Muslim from the valley says this conflict of interest within the people of the valley might lead to a civil war like situation.They stand strong and united though and are clear that they want Azadi.

But the media has not been able to highlight the real issue which though is to do with a place of worship, is more complex. Arundhatis and Shabanas of the world raced to make politically correct statements without really studying and understanding the problem, hence sabotaging the issue.The issue will get distorted and twisted and maybe is taking and will take on a communal color, in the coming days.But that is not how and why it started.

I had to write this peice because I promised my 66 year old father in Jammu who courted arrest yesterday and today that I would hold onto my secular beliefs in the face of all odds. He asked me to view things in a balanced way and hoped it reflected in my writings.He reminded me that secularism is core to my region, my religion and my civilization.Secularism is in my blood.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

History of Jammu and Kashmir

Someone said that merger was not a bad idea because 300 years of history could not be undone by 61 years of enmity. The reference here is Kashmiri Muslims wanting a merger with Pakistan and India's 61 year long enmity with Pakistan.
If I was blessed with powers of divine intervention I would in the first place undo the partition of 1947. Or if the partition had to take place all the Muslims should have moved to Pakistan and the Hindus to Hindustan. But who am I to say that.
Also I have a sneaking suspicion that the bond with the land is sometimes a stronger bond than the bond we have with religion.
Today if I am asked to give up my home in Jammu because as a Dogra Hindu I need to move to India while the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir merges with Pakistan. Can I do that easily?
Mental institutions in Jammu have older Kashmiri Pandits who have gone insane after 1989. They lost their sanity after being driven away from their homes, apple orchards, their temples, the land of their forefathers.Many died in Jammu in the migration camps because they could not acclimatize to the higher temperatures of the plain.So many Kashmiri Pandits stopped being secular after 1989. The younger generations of Kashmiri Pandits struggle to maintain a facade of secularism if they try at all that is because they have seen their grandparents and parents suffer. They carry with them pictures of their ransacked and deserted homes.

How far in history do we have to go to prove our rightful claim to the land.


According to the oldest extant book on Kashmir, " Nilmat Puran ", in the Satisar lived a demon called Jalod Bowa, who tortured and devoured the people, who lived near mountain slopes. Hearing the suffering of the people, a great saint of our country, Kashyap by name, came to the rescue of the people here. After performing penance for a long time, the saint was blessed, and he was able to cut the mountain near Varahmulla, which blocked the water of the lake from flowing into the plains below. The lake was drained, the land appeared, and the demon was killed. The saint encouraged people from India to settle in the valley. The people named the valley as Kashyap-Mar and Kashyap-Pura. The name Kashmir also implies land desicated from water: "ka" (the water ) and shimeera (to desicate). The ancient Greeks called it "Kasperia" and the Chinese pilgrim Hien-Tsang who visited the valley around 631 A. D. called it KaShi-Mi-Lo ". In modern times the people of Kashmir have shortened it into "Kasheer" in their tongue.


Kalhan has started the history of Kashmir just before the great Mahabharat war, and the first King mentioned by him is Gonanda I, whose initial year of reign he places in 653 Kali-era, the traditional date of the coronation of King Yudhistira, the eldest brother of the Pandvas. Gonanda was killed in a battle along with his son in India, and at the time of the commencement of the Mahabharat war, Gonanda II was ruling Kashmir.The sanskrit work 'Ratnakar' also mentions the kings after Gonanda I.Ashoka too ruled kashmir and his grandson Damodar was a very popular king . The Srinagar airport was named after him Damodar e karwa. Kashmir was also ruled by Indi grek kings followed by Kushan rule. Then there waS the Karkota rule followed by Utpal dynasty. Lohara dynasty ruled Kashmir till the end of the HIndu rule(1339).

Shah Mir ascended the throne under the name of Sultan Shamas-ud-din, and his dynasty ruled the state for 222 years. This period is one of the most important in the annals of Kashmir, in as much as Islam was firmly established here.

The Moghuls remained in power here, from 1587 to 1752.

AFGHAN RULE: 1752 - 1819
Kashmir remained a dependency of Kabul rulers till 1819, roughly a period of 67 years.

SIKH RULE: 1819-46

DOGRA PERIOD : 1846 1957

The two Anglo-Sikh wars led to the final extinction of Sikh soverignty in the Punjab and by virtue of the treaties of Lahore and Amritsar the British who had by now become undisputed masters of India, transferred and made over in perpetuity, the independent position to the Maharaja Gulab Singh and heirs male of his body, all the hilly and mountainous country situated to the east of Indus, and west of Ravi river. In consideration of this transfer Maharaja Gulab Singh paid to the British government the sum of 75 lakhs of rupees. Maharaja Gulab Singh entered Srinagar on 9th November 1848 at 8 in the morning. The Dogra royal line traces its descent from the ancient Kshatriyas mentioned frequently in Mahabharata. The Dogra ruler claimed that they belong to the Surya Vanshi (sun born) race.

It was on 26th Jan. 1957 that the Kashmir Constiuent Assembly ended the hereditary rule of the Hindu monarchy in the state exactly after one hundred and ten years of its establishment. The Partition in 1947 on communal lines meant disaster for the region. Pakistan sent its guerrilla fighters who especially targeted the Hindus. Pakistan wanted to grab Kashmir, even though its ruler in the terms of Independance Act, had acceded to India, and signed the instrument of Accession as required under the said Act. The main burden of Pakistan invasion had to be borne by the Hindus of the districts of Muzzafarbad, Baramulla, Poonch, Rajuari, Mirpur, Bhimber, Kotli, Skardu, Gilgit and Ladakh. Thousands of people became the victims and lost their lives for no fault of theirs, and property worth crores accumulated for decades was lost just within a weeks time. Major demographic changes occured and the migration of Hindus from Muslim majority areas in the region which support Pakistan has been an ongoing process.

Who then decides whose land is it anyway?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Azadi = Merger with Pakistan?

Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Monday demanded the merger of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan.
Addressing a mammoth gathering at the tourist reception centre in Srinagar, Gillani said there was "no solution to the Kashmir issue other than merger with Pakistan".
"We are Pakistanis and Pakistan is us because we are tied with the country through Islam," he roared, as the crowd cheered him and chanted: "Hum Pakistani hain, Pakistan hamara hai" (We are Pakistanis, Pakistan is ours).

I am so disappointed for many people. The Kashmiri Muslims fighting for freedom from POK.
The Muslims waging a war for freedom from Pakistan in Balawaristan.

For the people in Aksai Chin (China Occupied Kashmir)who harbored dreams of re-integrating with Kashmir.

And most of all I am the saddest for the Kashmiri Muslims from the valley who had their hearts set on Azad Kashmir , a Kashmir which included POK and was independent from both Pakistan and India. Your leaders have let you down.

Geelani said on Monday that they had a connection with Pakistan because of Islam. So it has been a communal fight all along. Then why blame Jammu of communal ism.

I had been asking Kashmiri Muslims who were pro freedom some tough question on some forums and had not been getting answers. The million dollar question was WHAT AFTER AZADI? I asked them yesterday if they or their leaders had a blueprint for Azad Kashmir.
The separatists submitted a memorandum to the US oops sorry the UN. Well the error because it is US which decides which issue is important for the UN to intervene and and how. And when the UN still does not back US intentions it just goes ahead and does it anyway.
Well my take on this memorandum yesterday was...The UN will just appeal to India to handle the matter peacefully and engage in an all party dialogue, including Pakistan. Although I wonder what Pakistan will bring to the table, it is not even willing to open the trade routes. And is now busy deciding what to do with Musharraf.

And if UN agrees to intervene more actively I wonder about the hidden interest the US might have in Kashmir. Well it is strategically located, for starters...US is already in Pakistan and Afghanistan looking for terrorists and it is they who call it.. hunting down Islamic Terrorists. Troops based in Kashmir would mean controlling and monitoring an Islamic State. An Islamic state is what Kashmir would be in the International Community's eyes. And it would give the US an upper hand with its opponent China. It will be breathing down China's neck from the valley. I am worried about the HR violations then..the US in general is wary of anyone with a beard and brown skin after 9/11.

The US/ UN will justify this occupation because the demand of Azadi is backed by no blueprint or preparation of how the Azad Kashmiris will sustain themselves ...especially how will they protect their borders from ready to attack and occupy- Pakistan and China?

But I guess the questions I posed yesterday were useless becuase there is a blueprint for Azadi and that is a merger with Pakistan based on the theory of one religion one nation.

I find this statement by Geelani disturbing because I personally know of Kashmiri Muslim youth who are pro azadi and for their own justified reasons. These young Kashmiri Muslim men are clear they want freedom from both Pakistan and India. These men are also secular in nature and have said to me that they do not think of India as their enemy as long as they are granted freedom. But their naivete in trusting the secessionist leadership who is on the Pakistani payroll has let them down.

The lesson here for the Dogras and Kashmiri Pandits and all the other pro India groups - protect you rights.

Let us not be worried about pseudo intellectuals like Arundhati Roy who said
"Kashmir needs freedom from India". To all those who think she has acted like an anti national Arundhati Roy is a bigger traitor to the Kashmiri interests ...by saying what she said she played into the hands of leaders like Geelani and help crush the pro azadi ..independence from both Pakistan and India dreams of many a kashmiri muslim youth.
People like her need to do things like this from time to time to keep themselves in the news. Luckily for her and unluckily for those whose interests she has hurt that our great nation is a democracy and she too is entitled to her views.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Jammu Vs. Kashmir The Battle Continues...

Jammu entered into the 26th day of Bandh and 49th day of agitation in response to a call given by Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangarsh Samiti (SAYSS) demanding restoration of 800 kanals land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB).

In the valley on the other hand the chairmen of parallel factions of Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Sunday said that the resistance struggle will continue and asked people to gather on Monday and a procession would be taken out heading towards Sonawar to submit a memorandum at the United Nations Military Observers (UNMO) office. The Hurriyat’s Coordination Committee also said there will be no strike from Tuesday to Thursday.

The SAYSS has said that it is open for talks if the center has concrete plans. The first all party delegation which came to Jammu to they allege was not serious about resolving the issue. The Sangharsh Samiti has alleged that Amar Singh was sleeping through the meeting.The convenor of the Samiti has said thatthey are open for a 'middle path' if it comes form the government.

The whole scenario is gradually but inevitably taking a communal tone.Some Gujjar khullas or huts wre burnt.The Samiti alleges these khullas were empty as the Gujjars are a nomadic tribe and move to the mountains in summer. The Kashmiri Muslims of the valley have claimed beating up of Kashmiri truck drivers in Jammu by hindu fundamentalists. It has resulted in the death of one driver.

2000 semi and unskilled laborers have left the valley under the threat of severe repercussions by militants and locals. These laborers were mostly from Bihar and Jharkhand.

The Center, Congress and the UPA meanwhile is still bungling along. The blame of worsening conditions is in large part due to the ineptness shown by the Centarl goverment. Some of the glaring mistakes were :
a)It took the Center 40 days of agitation in the Jammu region which was preceded by violent protests in the valley to take note of the problem.
b)The whole issue of "economic blockade" was being politicised and blown out of proportion. There was a bandh in Jammu and the highway was affected too. There was a call of blocking the highway to Srinagar. The government took time in taking help of the army to clear the highway. The highway was cleared within a day or two but no efforts were made to dipel the notion that the 'blockade' had been lifted.
c) If there was and is a shortage of essental commodities they could have been airlifted to the valley.
d) The seriousness of the crisis has still been not appreciated by the government beacuse there is no direct involvement of the Prime Minister as yet.

So while the Center sleepwalks through the issue parties like BJP, PDP, NC are playing the game of votebank politics and hoping to piggyback happily to the upcoming elections in 2009. The seperatist leaders in the valley and the communal forces elsewhere are having the last laugh.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Devil's Labyrinth or Heaven on Earth

Violence in Jammu and Kashmir continues. Jammu has entered its 46th day of agitation and 16th day of bandh.In the valley there has been a call for bandh till the 18th of august. There has been loss of life and property.

Though the row started over the Amarnath Land transfer or rather land leasing issue, it has snowballed into a demand for Azadi for Kashmir by the Kashmiri hardliners like Hurriyat Conference and a do or die matter of honor for the Dogras of the Jammu region.

It is and has been a very complicated issue thanks to its history, various ethnic groups and their religious and political affiliations. If my previous posts have seemed to simplify the matter, that was not the intention.

I have previously stated that the Dogras of the Jammu region are united in their struggle, hindus and muslims alike. But this statement is likely to cause confusion. By Muslims of the region I meant the Dogra Muslims. The demography of the region is the key to understanding the problem. There are now 10 districts in Jammu region: Jammu, Kathua ,Udhampur, Samba, Reasi, Poonch, Rajouri, Doda,Kishtwar,Ramban
Out of these only Jammu, Kathua, Reasi, Udhampur and Samba are predominantly Hindu. The Hindus are mostly Dogras. The districts of Poonch, Rajouri, Doda , Kishtwar and Ramban have Muslim majority.

Historically , Poonchies have rebelled against the Maharaja of J&K a Dogra Ruler. During the partition they fought to get independence from Jammu. They have had an anti India stance since then.Since Rajouri District shares its borders with Pakistan, it is the site of infiltration and militant activity. Due to militancy substantial minority communities have moved to the Hindu dominated districts near Jammu. The militants hiding in the forests in and around Rajouri have either brainwashed or threatened the locals to adopt a seperatist view.

The Dogra Muslims have chosen to support the Hindus in the Amarnath issue. They also agree that the people of Jammu region especially Dogras have faced discrimination. They stand united with their Hindu brothers in demand for justice.
In Ramnagar tehsil in Udhampur District Mr.Dilkhursheed, a Muslim has been made the Chairman of the Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti. Prominent Dogra Muslims like Sheikh Shakeel,Member Jammu Bar Association, Abdul Mazeer the Chairman of the Muslim Congregation Jammu, have joined their Hindu counterparts in the agitation.

Kashmir Valley has the history of struggle against the Maharaja. Even during the partition many did not agree with the Maharaja's decision to accede to India. Many in the valley still want independence from India and want a separate country which includes the POK.

Kashmiri Pandits and the Dogras stand united but were not on very cordial terms with each other before. The Pandits appreciate the fact that Jammu opened its doors for them in the 1989 mass exodus but some of them feel that the Dogras were silent spectators during their persecution. Dogras empathize with the Pandits but harbor resentment over the years of discrimination and governance which favored the Kashmiris.

These are the major players but there many more in this circus. The Ladakhis, Baltis. Gujjars ,Bakkerwaals....The more the merrier they say, but here the case is not so. It means more complexities and more difficulty in finding a long term solution to the problem.

Is it Heaven on Earth or the Devil's labyrinth is the question I am asking myself these days.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black

Pakistan Foreign Office said it was approaching the international community, the UN, Organisation of Islamic Conference and human rights organisations, urging them to "take notice" of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

I condone the killings and loss of property in the Kashmir and in Jammu, but this latest rhetoric by Pakistan is ridiculous. Pakistan has poor human rights records by both local and international standards. At a time when the regions of Baltistan and Gilgit are fighting for their freedom from Pakistan occupation, Pakistan's concern for Kashmir's freedom is bewildering.
Check out: http://www.balawaristan.blogspot.com/

As in previous years, violence against women remained rampant in Pakistan. Under Pakistan's existing Hudood Ordinance, proof of rape generally requires the confession of the accused or the testimony of four adult Muslim males who witnessed the assault. If a woman cannot prove her rape allegation she runs a very high risk of being charged with fornication or adultery, the criminal penalty for which is either a long prison sentence and public whipping, or, though rare, death by stoning. The testimony of a woman carries half the weight of a man’s testimony under this ordinance. The government has yet to repeal or reform the Hudood Ordinance, despite repeated calls for its repeal by the government-run National Commission on the Status of Women, as well as women’s rights and human rights groups. Informed estimates suggest that tens of thousands of cases under the Hudood laws are under process at various levels in Pakistan’s legal system.

Domestic and international human rights organizations and media drew attention this year to the government’s dismissive attitude regarding violence against women. In January 2005 Shazia Khalid, a doctor, was raped by a masked intruder alleged to be an army officer in Balochistan province. Khalid, who subsequently fled to London, accused President Musharraf’s principal secretary of acting on behalf of the Pakistan Army in personally coercing her to leave the country. Mukhtaran Mai, who was gang-raped on the orders of a village council in 2002, was denied permission to travel to the United States in June, in order to prevent her from “maligning” Pakistan. The ban was lifted after an international outcry.

President Musharraf subsequently sparked international outrage by publicly stating that rape has become a “money-making concern,” and suggesting that many Pakistanis felt it was an easy way to get a foreign visa. He specifically mentioned both Mukhtaran Mai and Shazia Khalid in this context. Despite the international and domestic condemnation, President Musharraf has not apologized for these remarks or withdrawn them.

Pakistan's Blasphemy Laws target Christians and Hindus living in the country.Several minority Muslim communities, such as the Mojahir and the Ahmadiyya have been attacked in Pakistan over the years. Plus, the ethnic Balochi have allegedly been severely discriminated against, leading them to start a secessionist movement under Nawab Akbar Bugti called the balochistan Liberation Army.Sectarian violence also increased in the predominantly Shi’a Northern Areas. In January Agha Ziauddin, a leading Shia cleric, was murdered in the Himalayan city of Gilgit.

Since 2001 the conduct of the “war on terror" in Pakistan has involved serious violations of human rights. Suspects arrested and held on terrorism charges frequently were detained without charge and subject to trials without proper judicial process. For example, Zain Afzal and Kashan Afzal, U.S. citizens of Pakistani origin, were abducted from their home in Karachi in August 2004 by Pakistani intelligence agents. They were released on April 22, 2005, without having been charged, after Human Rights Watch intervened. During eight months of illegal detention, the two brothers were repeatedly interrogated and threatened by U.S. FBI agents operating in Pakistan, and were subjected to torture by the Pakistani security services.

Military operations are ongoing in South Waziristan, adjacent to the Afghan border, and previously noted problems persist, including collective punishment, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions, and limited access to prisoners.

Pakistan has attacked Human Rights defenders most famously Asma Jehangirthe U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of religion and head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the country’s largest such nongovernmental group, was publicly beaten. The police, under orders, also attempted to strip her naked. Some forty others, including Hina Jilani, the U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, were also beaten and arrested by the provincial police and the federal Intelligence Bureau. This was during an event designed to highlight violence against women in 2005.

The list is longer.It is definitely the case of kettle calling the pot black.

Pakistan's rhetoric is only going to hamper the peace process in India. It serves no ne of the concerned parties, the Kashmiri Muslims or the Kashmiri Pandits or the Dogras. I wish Paksistan would concentrate on its money laundering President rather than creating mischief across the border.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Jammu and Kashmir under Seige

After 13 yrs. curfew was imposed in the entire valley. The Kashmiri local media reports that 21 people are killed versus the national media reporting 11 dead and 500injured.

The secular nature of the protests in Jammu too has taken a beating. Kishtwar in Jammu region too erupted in violence with the two communities clashing. 2 people were killed and 80 injured.More than 100 shops were gutted or extensively damaged.

It troubles me to say that I do not see any light at the end of the tunnel. The people in the Jammu region are not budging till their demands are met. They want the order on the transfer of land revoked. And the issue of regional discrimination is the basis for such intensity of protests. But who disentangles the issues which seem to be hopelessly mixed up. There is a lack of strong leadership in the region. Parties like BJP see it as an opportunity and are preparing ground for the upcoming elections in 2009.

The people in the valley are tierd of being under the shadow of the militancy and the military and are longing for freedom from both. This is also evident by the beating of the former PDP minister Dilawar Mir in Sopore. He had gone to express PDP's solidarity with the fruit growers who Suddenly, a group of fruit growers and residents of Sopore took objection to Mir’s action and dismissed him "one of the killers of Kashmiris". They also expressed their anger against Mir’s party and shouted that it was responsible for creating the current crisis first by allotting land to SASB and later by demanding its cancellation. They lamented that "economic blockade" in Jammu was the result of the same "mischief" by PDP.

The different young voices I am hearing on different forums and Jammu and Kashmir communities have this to say:

Jammu Region: They want revocation of the order of transfer of land. They are clear that they have to stand up for the long on going regional discrimination. They also admit there has been a lack of strong leaders from the community. They are secular in nature and pro India. They are leaning towards seperate statehood.They want peace.

The Valley: They are not pro India and have many grievances against the Indian Govt. Fair enough they have been under the shadow of the gun for too long now. Many of them are openly pro Pakistan though most of them prefer a seperate country, Azad Kashmir over aligning with Pakistan. They have expressed their desire to have the Kashmiri Pandits back. They are definitely fed up with all the loss of life and property. Some of them admit that parties like PDP and NC indulge in vote bank politics. They too want peace.

The Kashmiri Pandits: The KP are still waiting for justice and waiting to return to their homeland. They openly express solidarity with the Jammuites. They are angry and justifiably so.They feel the Kashmiri Muslims expressing desire to have them back is all words and is translating into no action. They too want peace.

Ladakh: Have not heard any voices from this region. Dont know wether its good or bad.

Cannot say if this impasse will result in any positive and constructive results. The politics of region, religion and vote bank is most likely to win again. The politicians are bound to settle amongst themselves making sure they win some if they lose some. All at the cost of the larger interests of the people.
Valley will go back to being what it is ...a ticking time bomb waiting to explode ...again.
The Kashmiri Pandits yearning for their homeland and waiting for conducive environment to return to their homes, their apple orchards, their valley.
The Dogras risk fading into oblivion once again thanks to lack of strong and articulate leadership.

I am praying I am proven wrong.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Jammu Agitation - Regional or Communal

The Jammu Agitation is not communal but regional. There is a danger that the history of tolerance might break under the strain and might become a victim of political mischief.

If one looks at reports now coming out of the Jammu region one will see that the muslims of the region are standing by their hindu counterparts. This kind of honest and detailed coverage was long due. It is to be noted that there have been incidents of no communal violence in this 40 days long agitation. Unfortunately very recently there have been reports of Gujjar Muslims huts being burnt. But otherwise this has been a remarkably peaceful protest.

One of the most famous dogra singer is also a Muslim, Ghulam Mohammed.Late Ustaad Allahrakha the tabla maestro(Father of Ustaad Zakir Hussain) was a Dogra Muslim. I have personally heard him giving an impassioned speech demanding recognition for the Dogri language in the early 1990's. But this secular fabric of the region is under duress due to the delayed and inadequate response of the central government.

Notably it took more than a month for the national media to give due importance and coverage to the issue. This is a very irresponsible act because the agitation was being dismissed as yet another hindu-muslim fight. The nature of the agitation is not communal, is proven by the fact that the Dogra muslims as well as Gujjar Muslims of the region are supporting the cause. They are saying that the region has been long discriminated against in favor of the valley. This dicrimination was against the muslims of the Jammu region too. The region of Ladakh too suffered.

A Jammu Bar Association Member and a Dogra Muslim Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed has endorsed the cause and supporting the movement by the Sangharsh Samiti. Mr. Sheikh Shakeel scoffed at Mr. Farooq Abdullah and Mr. Sajjad lone's attempts to say that he was supporting the Hindus because he had to live with them in Jammu. This is an example of the politics of religion trying to overpower an issue and change its course.

"This is not a communal agitation. Firstly, when you focus on this religious issue, it happens to be the last straw that broke the camel's back. And at the base of it all what is now coming out is actually a manifestation of grievances over issues that are rather secular in nature. You have a region that has suffered a lot," said Dipankar Sengupta, Economist.
Now if you have a centralised governance, a particular province, in this case the province of Kashmir is overly-represented in the state legislature. It is discrimination. Real and perceived discrimination is bound to take place. And it has taken place. Now if it was a decentralised governance, and this state is a mountainous state, a multi-ethnic state and a diverse state, it cannot be in any way governed in a centralised manner. You have to have a democratic devolution of power, decentralisation in this state otherwise the state cannot run. That unfortunately is completely missing in this particular state. So you have various people, various regions, feeling alienated, feeling disempowered, blaming each other as well as the Central government for this current state of affairs," he added.

"Population at that time was equally balanced. But when the state Constitution was framed and state has its own commission. They were given 42 seats and Jammu was given 32 seats. There was difference of 10 seats. Then we raised hue and cry and four seats were raised in the Valley and five seats in Jammu. In the present population we have more than 32 lakh voters and Kashmir has 29 lakh voters. Kashmir has three Parliamentary seats, Jammu has two. So political power is retained by them and by that they discriminated in the employment in the whole of the Secretariat where more than 3,000 employees are there. There are hardly 3-4 of the Jammu regions, including Muslims. In the medical colleges, in the engineering colleges in employment, in development, every where there was a discrimination with the Jammu people," said Leela Karan Sharma, leader, Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti.

All this and the militancy in the valley has lead to further alienation between the people of the 2 regions of Jammu and Kashmir.40 seperate organization have come together in Jammu and are working together. What unites them. A desire for a powerful voice for their grievances makes this agitation a people's movement.

This pot has been on the burner for quite sometime now and it was just a matter of time before things boiled over.

Some must see videos:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Rise Jammu Rise

Any parent will tell you that if a child is not reprimanded, corrected and if the need be punished or as it is fashionably known given time out for bad behavior, he/she will continue to make the same mistake. In fact the absence of timely correction will lead to an emboldened and impudent child who will continue to do the forbidden act time and again.

Well so what does the parent, read Central Govt. do when the child i.e. the Kashmiri leadership and the people are naughty? The naughty deed being the political parties from the valley threatening to march to Muzaffarbad a town in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to sell their fruits. And this is not anything new. Threats of aligning to Pakistan is commonplace. It is either this or an act of terrorism. So again how does the Center react to this? The Center says please do not walk to Muzzafarabad and further gives them candy to pacify them. The candy being compensation for the economic losses they had to'suffer'

What does it do with the other child Jammu who is asking for some well deserved rights? It is trying to placate it by promises of candy in the future. Promises it has no plans to fulfill.

Undoubtedly very bad parenting. Unfair comparisons and treatment between two siblings will have bad consequences. The unfortunate of the two siblings will be psychologically scarred for life and its spirit be crushed.

So let the false promises not fool you. Let it not crush your spirit. You are in the right, Jammu, so stand up for yourself. Krishna Neeti says if someone slaps you and tries to do it again you have to stop him. And stop him you will.

Rise Jammu Rise!!!!