Posts Tagged ‘Government of India’

Investigate Border Security Force Actions
July 19, 2013

(New York) – The Indian [2] government should appoint an independent commission to promptly and transparently investigate the killing of four protesters by Border Security Force (BSF) troops in Jammu and Kashmir state, Human Rights Watch said today. The government should act to end the BSF’s longstanding impunity for large numbers of killings over many years.

The unclear circumstances resulting in the deaths of four protesters, and the wounding of nearly a dozen more people, highlight the urgency of an independent inquiry. The BSF reported that on July 18, 2013, in Ramban district, its troops interrogated a local resident who it said “made baseless and false allegations about being mistreated.” After protesters gathered and “started stone pelting vigorously on the BSF post,” troops fired at the protesters in self-defense, the BSF said.

Local residents allege that BSF soldiers entered a mosque during a search operation and were rude and disrespectful to the mosque staff. When unarmed protesters gathered at the post, the BSF troops called for police support. The security forces then opened fire on the protesters, the local residents said.

“The loss of life at the Ramban mosque needs a prompt investigation by an independent commission,” said Meenakshi Ganguly [3], South Asia director. “Any finding of illegal use of force by BSF troops should result in prosecutions. Too often the BSF’s version of events is simply accepted, allowing killing after killing for which no one is held to account.”

Senior Indian officials have responded appropriately to the incident, but need to follow up with action, Human Rights Watch said. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said that it is “highly unacceptable to shoot at unarmed protesters.” Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has promised an investigation and said that “any use of excessive force or irresponsible action will be dealt with strictly.” Previous investigations of BSF abuses have often been delayed and prosecutions stalled.

Human Rights Watch has previously documented [4] misbehavior and serious human rights violations by BSF troops along the Bangladesh border. The border guards, who are deployed to prevent infiltration, trafficking, and smuggling, had engaged in numerous cases of unlawful use of force, arbitrary detention, and torture, and killed over a thousand Indian and Bangladeshi nationals. The BSF was ordered to exercise restraint and use rubber bullets instead of live ammunition, which led to a decrease in the number of people fatally injured, though unlawful killings continue.

The government has repeatedly failed to prosecute BSF personnel responsible for serious abuses. Inquiries by the National Human Rights Commission receive a standard response that fatalities occurred when troops had to fire in self-defense.

Human Rights Watch called on the Indian government to publicly order the security forces to follow the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. The Basic Principles state that security forces shall “apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms,” and that “whenever the lawful use of force and firearms is unavoidable, law enforcement officials shall: (a) Exercise restraint in such use and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence and the legitimate objective to be achieved; (b) Minimize damage and injury, and respect and preserve human life.” Furthermore, “intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.”

Since the shootings, violent protests have broken out in several parts of Jammu and Kashmir, and authorities have imposed curfews in some areas. Human Rights Watch called on organizers of protests to take steps to deter supporters from engaging in violence, including attacks on law enforcement officers.

Security forces sometimes react with gunfire when outnumbered by an angry crowd, which is why they need to be properly trained in nonlethal crowd control methods,” Ganguly said. “Incidents that end in shootings are not only terrible for all those involved, but set the stage for unnecessary bloodshed in the future.”


 

Date: 23 May 2013

European Parliament passes Urgent Resolution on execution of Afzal Guru

Brussels/Strasbourg: In a major setback to India at international level European Parliament today passed the Urgent Resolution on the execution of Afzal Guru by voting unanimously for the motion.

ICHR has, with its intense lobbying, persuaded various political groups and considerable number of Members of the European Parliament to introduce a motion for an Urgency Resolution on the secret hanging of Afzal Guru. The proposed motion was discussed and unanimously voted in the European Parliament’s plenary session today at Strasbourg.

Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany

Barrister Tramboo head of ICHR termed this step as positive measure for human rights defenders and hoped that it will inspire further action from European leaders on the state of affairs in Indian Held Kashmir.

Barrister Tramboo commended Mr. Ali Shah Nawaz Khan, Executive Director of Kashmiri Scandinavian Council who contributed to bring about the Afzal Guru Urgency Resolution in European Parliament.

Final Text of the resolution adopted unanimously by voting for the motion at European Parliament at Strasbourg (France).

European Parliament resolution on India: execution of Mohammad Afzal Guru and its implications (2013/2640(RSP)) �
� � �
The European Parliament,

– � having regard to UN General Assembly Resolution 62/149 of 18 December 2007 calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, and UN General Assembly Resolution 63/168 calling for the implementation of General Assembly Resolution 62/149, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 2008,

– � having regard to the final declaration adopted by the 4th World Congress Against the Death Penalty, held in Geneva from 24 to 26 February 2010, which calls for universal abolition of the death penalty,

– � having regard to the UN Secretary-General’s report of 11 August 2010 on moratoriums on the use of the death penalty,

– � having regard to its previous resolutions on the abolition of the death penalty, and in particular that of 26 April 2007 on the initiative for an immediate moratorium on the death penalty(1),

– � having regard to the submission made in July 2012 by 14 retired Indian Supreme Court and High Court judges to the President of India calling on him to commute the death sentences of 13 prisoners on the grounds that those sentences had been erroneously upheld by the Supreme Court over the previous nine years,

– � having regard to the World Day against the Death Penalty and to the European Day against the Death Penalty held on 10 October every year,

– � having regard to Rules 122(5) and 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas Mohammad Afzal Guru was sentenced to death in 2002 after being convicted of conspiracy in relation to the December 2001 attack on the Parliament of India, and was executed by the Indian authorities on 9 February 2013;

B. �whereas the death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, violating the right to life as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

C. whereas 154 countries in the world have abolished the death penalty de jure or de facto; whereas India, when presenting its candidacy for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council ahead of the elections of 20 May 2011, pledged to uphold the highest standards of promotion and protection of human rights;

D. whereas India ended its eight-year unofficial moratorium on executions in November 2012, when it executed Ajmal Kasab, convicted for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks;

E. �whereas national and international human rights organisations have raised serious questions about the fairness of Afzal Guru’s trial;

F. �whereas over 1 455 prisoners in India are currently on death row;

G. whereas, despite a curfew imposed in large parts of Indian-administered Kashmir, Afzal Guru’s death was followed by protests;

1. �Reiterates its long-standing opposition to the death penalty under all circumstances, and calls once again for an immediate moratorium on executions in those countries where the death penalty is still applied;

2. �Condemns the Government of India’s execution in secret of Afzal Guru at New Delhi’s Tihar Jail on 9 February 2013, in opposition to the worldwide trend towards the abolition of capital punishment, and expresses its regret that Afzal Guru’s wife and other family members were not informed of his imminent execution and burial;

3. �Calls on the Government of India to return Afzal Guru’s body to his family;

4. �Urges the Indian authorities to maintain adherence to the highest national and international judicial standards in all trials and judicial proceedings, and to provide the necessary legal assistance to all prisoners and persons facing trial;

5. �Regrets the deaths of three young Kashmiris following the protests against Afzal Guru’s execution; calls on the security forces to exercise restraint in the use of force against peaceful protesters;

6. �Calls on the Government of India, as a matter of urgency, not to approve any execution order in the future;

7. �Calls on the Government and Parliament of India to adopt legislation introducing a permanent moratorium on executions, with the objective of abolishing the death penalty in the near future;

8. �Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President / High Representative, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the UN Secretary-General, the President of the UN General Assembly, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the President, Government and Parliament of India.

 

 

TNN | Feb 3, 2013, 04.55 AM IST

After threats, Kashmir's first all-girl rock band stops live shows

After threats, Kashmir‘s first all-girl rock band stops live shows
SRINAGAR: Jammu & Kashmir chief ministerOmar Abdullah on Saturday led the chorus of support for the valley’s first all-girl Sufi rock band — ‘Pragaash’ (light) — that was forced to quit live performances after abuses on social media.

The CM promised action while public support including a Facebook community “I support Pragaash, Kashmir’s first all-girls’ rock band” has encouraged them to bounce back with an album as a befitting reply to hate mongers.

“They have stopped live performances for the time being but are working on their album,” said 22-year-old Adnan Muhammad Mattoo, Pragaash manager and a musician, who trained the teenaged girls — Farah Deeba, Aneeqa Khalid and Noma Nazir — at his Band Inn Music Academy in Srinagar. “They will be back with a bang.”

The three could not be contacted and are said to be in New Delhi. “Thanks for the support everyone. It really means a lot!” wrote the band’s guitarist, Aneeqa Khalid, on the community page that had managed 594 likes since Friday when it was started.

The band gained prominence after their exceptional performance at the annual “Battle of the Bands” event that Mattoo has been organizing to encourage young talent since 2008. The abuse began days later, forcing their alarmed parents to ensure they keep a low profile. They had won the best performance award in their first public appearance.

Omar joined hundreds of Pragaash supporters on Twitter to lend his support. “I hope these talented young girls will not let a handful of morons silence them…,” he tweeted. He said police would examine the threats and whether any provision of the law can be used to book those making them. ” Shame on those who claim freedom of speech via social media & then use that freedom to threaten girls who have the right to choose to sing.”

“We are yet to outdo haters. Keep the support coming in,” Shehla Rashid Shora, one of the band supporters, wrote on the Facebook page. “Misogyny is not restricted to Kashmir. It’s only being recognized here now because people are raising a voice against it.”

Another supporter Absaar Syed echoed Shora. “Quitting would amount to lending haters a win. Don’t do that.”. Nibha Majeed seconded him. “(T)hese personz who use such abusive language n dnt knw how to talk abt gals…are rotten lots themselves …”

Mattoo said the support had overwhelmed the girls, whose talents he described as “astonishing”. He said they also needed financial support to chase their dreams. “We need sponsors, otherwise we would be unable to realize the dream of releasing the album.”

He said he had ignored abuses when he was tagged and threatened on Facebook first in December. But it rattled the girls and their families. “They are just 15 and too young to face such abuse. They are hurt. They cried, but I tried to convince them to continue.”

He said they were doing nothing wrong and they were carrying forward the glorious tradition of Kashmiri Sufi music dedicated to love of the Prophet. “We do not know who these people are and want to get to the bottom of this.”

The 22-year-old said they were looking for more government support for over 40 music bands in the Valley. “People would be encouraged if they see a future in this profession and we need the government’s support for it.”

He said they have trying to get an appointment with the CM for over a year. “I expect Omar Abdullah, a music lover, to support us,” he said. “I have met (former chief minister) Mufti (Mohammad Sayeed) Saab. He was very encouraging and so are the common people, who are happy with us as we represent Kashmir.”

Lawyer Mohammad Ashraf said social network sites have been used to instigate violence and malign others to settle personal scores despite the cyber crime laws. “The police have set-up a wing to deal with it.”

Organizers of late Jagjit Singh’s concert some years back faced similar abuses.

 

 

Author: Saadut
•7:46 PM
Ye kamsund’oo naad, kusu aallav divaan?
Ye’ kamsind’e dupmm’phit tchoupi’ seeth aalam dazaan?
3.30 am is just between midnight and early morning when the night is still in transit and sleep still grips you tight. It was at this time in the late autumns of late 1990’s when piercing decibels from the Masjid loudspeaker announced an Army crackdown in the locality, ordering all males to assemble in the abandoned barren orchard that lay by high ground almost 900 meters away from my home.  A repeat of these announcements for the next 30 minutes or so seemed to drive more fear inside us, more of dread. In sleep deprived eyes mother was seen frantically looking for a safe place for her valuables, many crackdowns had been known to magically disappear many savings and valuables from households. By 4.15 am a half asleep habitation, now rubbing eyes and shaking heads was being herded in fading dark towards the high ground, that suddenly seemed so faraway today. Children in long pherans, tripped over each other, adults gripping their hands unsuccessfully tying to make them walk at an adult pace. Whispers were exchanged, whereabouts of extended families sought in this crowd. The autumn changeover to winter had just begun and most of us were already in our winter ‘astronaut’ dresses, spare for some deep sleepers who wore pheran draped over night trousers in their forced hurry to join the crowd.  The crowd grew by every lane, every turn; I never knew so many people lived in this habitation. These crackdowns were one social leveler; all classes, all levels of society were pushed and herded here like cattle by the security forces. As the peeping sunrays over the eastern hills created extended shadows of the breaking morning, crowds merged into the abandoned orchard. Like crowded packs of domestic animals let out in confined grazing grounds, security men were seen shouting and driving us to close in, on one side of the orchard slant which descended to the middle ground. On the opposite side of this orchard slant were rows of army vehicles, the whole orchard ringed by lines of uniformed men, looking down upon in stern glaze and finger on trigger at ‘helpless us’, as if in jeer and mock. And if the setting winter chill had not already set in our bones, the chilly stare and tone of these uniformed completed the freeze. We had nothing to beat this chill with; kangris for the day in Kashmiri homes are only prepared early morning, not in the middle of the night and there were clear instructions by the herders to assemble without any of these firepots. The overnight dew having inundated the barren orchard, all of us sat still on our knees; the vapor of our whispers mingling with the cold morning air. The shame of watching your elders and teachers being paraded the same way as you, forced on knees before gun trotting and stick wielding uniformed men, pushed and heckled like animals, is unexplained.  Showkat the tailor was holding his 7 year old son in the lap, juggling between his own balance and the cold wet grass; a stick wields, a blow comes his way, Showkat is unbalanced and his son falls from the lap, forcing them to sit separate. Soon such herding became the norm, as we were made spectators to our own shame.
By 10 Am that ‘CAT’ was already in the Gypsy, people were driven in extended queues to slow identification lines before the vehicle. In most likeliness an informer or a renegade, the ‘Cat’ lay firmly seated in the front of the vehicle, hooded and identity less deciding the life and death fate of people. It was no fancy act to walk past the ‘Cat’ even if you have had not even the remotest connection with militancy. Many a times these ‘Cats’ were known to have settled personal scores or dislikes in identification parades; his one hint would have the commoner bundled in or bundled out. Renegades were known to have created personal fiefdoms with the help of security forces in Kashmir where ‘God’ like aura was self assumed by them deciding the face of lesser mortals. While here our fate was being decided by ‘faceless hoods’ behind armed escorts, we were also worried about the ‘search operation’ by the uniformed forces back home, where only female folk had been retained.
A lean and tall boy with patches of a beard, in an old worn pheran and slippers was marked, pushed out of queue and segregated as he came in front of the ‘cat’. The quiet boy dragged, lay stone faced as he was taken behind the line of armored vehicles. After a brief jolt, the queue continued to trod, the masked hood continued to decide. It looked like an eternity at the barren orchard, the noon sun passed its peak, and dew absorbed some by the sun rest by the restless people who sat on it. Masterji (that is how we called him, was a retired teacher in his 80’s; flowing beard, a lifetime of humble reputation and lots of respect) was sitting by Dad’s side, felt restless for want of water. He dared standup and approach the herding uniformed soldier close by “where to drink some water”, the soldier raised his stick, frowned and pointed towards a muddy water cesspool that lay by a depression. Masterji quietly sat down, my Dad holding his hand. By afternoon there were already more than 8 boys marked by the ‘cat’, who lay bundled to behind the line of armored vehicles, fate unknown.
Zain, my cousin had recently returned from the US, his once in a lifetime holiday to Kashmir. We had in fact been in touch for long and decided that both of us would come to Kashmir on holidays at the same time.  His morning excitement of experiencing his first crackdown in Kashmir had already evaporated by the noon, now overtaken by a griping fear, the shake and trembles visible on his face. My own fears making me numb, I extended my arm on Zain just to soothe him, but he could see the blankness on my face, the brave mask that I was trying to put on failed. I tried to look up Dad sitting next to me, but failed to meet his eye, that was visualizing what we could not comprehend.
Hunger and thirst pangs had overtaken when our turn in joining the queue came must have been already 5 PM. I tried of be ahead of Dad and Zain but a violent push by the soldier entrenched me behind Dad and Zain. The serpentine queue moved so slow, while I lost pace of my own thumping heart beat, “get over with it damn it, will you” I kept repeating. We kept tracing steps of the earlier queues in slow motion, as if novices walking on a tight rope between two cliffs. The first cliff was our fear, the second being our fate, in between the two we were hung as if by a slender thread. The queue moved like a snail and so did our fate.
Dad stood composed facing the ‘cat’, there was no reaction from the vehicle, “move on” shouted the officer standing next to the vehicle. When Zain faced the ‘cat’ next, his shoulders had dropped dead and his ‘always cool’ composure was all gone. As white as cold marble, his face stared into a windshield, the officer signaled to move on and I heaved a sense of relief for him, my own fate yet unknown. I extended my step towards the precipice, heart galloping when I heard voices ‘wapas aao’ (come back); Zain had been marked, called back and hastily dragged to behind the line of these armored vehicles. I froze, everything became blurred in front of me and I wanted to cry out loud but could not. Suddenly I head noises, somebody pushed me and suddenly I realized a soldier was kicking me to move one ‘aage chalo’.  Dad had lost his composure on the other side, all my life I never saw him so pence, as clueless as on that day. Zain had been our responsibility in Kashmir, my responsibility, and now the unimaginable had happened.
The queues kept passing by the ‘hooded marker’ and by late evening as the process had been completed a few more boys had been ‘marked’ by the ‘cat’, only to be bundled up into the unknown. By 9.00 PM the cordon had been lifted and people were heading back home. Our standing at the same spot yielded no results, no amount of pleading with the officers helped. The boys had all been taken away in armed vehicles to the forces camp, destination we knew nothing of.
Back home, Mom had been successful in salvaging her valuables but our rice storages (Kashmiris store rice for long winters) had been all scattered from the store into the backyard; while in our rooms wardrobes were so disheveled, belongings ravaged as if relics of a war. By 10.00 PM Dad was ringing anybody he could lay his call on, his friends in the bureaucracy, acquaintances and a trunk call to an ‘connected’ uncle who lived in Delhi. Desperation was transmitted via the landline; whereabouts of the army camp (and Zain) were sought. Tears, sobs were heard from the kitchen, neighbors sat with us through the night consoling, assuring. The night never seems to end, I must have moved out in the garden barefooted unmindful of the winter chill, just wanting to grab the dawn and end this night as soon as I could. Morning Fajr prayers brought with them a telephone call from one of Dad’s friends who had traced the camp and Zain there.  Prayers done, we set out for the camp; I drove, shivered, rattled and lost. Over potholes and clayey paths, these undone roads seemed to never finish.
Dad’s bureaucrat friend had already talked to the camp commander, and only Dad was allowed to get inside the camp to meet him. I and my younger uncle waited seemingly in eternity outside the camp, the obnoxious fortifications standing like a monster before us.  When at around 9.00 Am Dad came out, seemed after ages he had gone inside the camp, he took my younger uncle to one side and all I could hear was ‘saas’ (thousands) to which uncle nodded and pointed to his bulging waist coat pockets (from the sides of his shawl) and both went inside the camp again.
It took another 30 minutes for Dad and uncle to come out of the camp along with Zain, who looked drained zombie like and limping bare footed like a recovered corpse. If you had seen Zain in better times, you would not believe this was the same Zain coming out of the army camp, being supported by Dad and uncle. I offered him my shoes, but he kept quiet, with a lowered gaze he hardly spoke in the car, a silence that made me feel the culprit for his condition. I felt wretched, had I not insisted on his Kashmir visit with me, he would not have gone thru this suffering. Back home Zain withdrew into recovery and reclusiveness for some days, recovering gradually from his shock and wounds; one reality of Kashmir had touched him very hard. But why had Zain been picked up in the first instance, why had he been called back by the ‘cat’? During the course of our conversations later it dawned that while Zain stood before the ‘cat’ (Zain was sans a Kashmiri pheran) on that fateful day, it was his ‘New Balance’ sneakers that had attracted the attention of the ‘cat’. And it was only when Zain had been asked to move on, did the ‘cat’ have an afterthought and signaled him to be retained; the American stuff had done him in. His sneakers, watch had been relieved of, he had been made to sit on a bare floor all night, despairing. And when he started hearing tormenting cries of torture in the room close by all night, he seemed to living close to his brutal nightmares. Close to midnight he himself had been caned, abused, beaten in this cell; his legs had been run over by jackboots, torture that had shattered him. Dad never told us about the ‘saas’ (thousands) bargain he had to undertake to free Zain, we never asked.
Some of the boys picked up on that fateful day were released within days, some detained longer. I could only guess if the ‘saas’ (thousands) tradeoff had helped any. The lean and tall boy with patches of a beard, in an old worn pheran and slippers who had been taken on that fateful day never came back home. Later found that he was the mansions son, who worked real hard through his school, did well in studies and had been preparing for a professional career. The poor boy used to support his studies by working as a laborer on odd days and later as a Mansion apprentice along with his Dad. The only son of his father, he was used as a conflict fodder by those in uniform, his erasure lost to decades of state denial. His crackdown never ended.
Along years, thousands of such poor, lean and hapless young men were to fall prey to state forced erasure, exhausting and depleting their improvised families of life and hope. Such people may have been lost to denial, but such stories live in our memory till eternity.
Saadut
28th September, 2012 ; 19:44 PM

For more on  real picture of Kashmir http://saadut.blogspot.in/

Let your footprints be your thoughts, let your wealth be your deeds

 

Women in mountain region of Kashmir, India gather water

 

(WNN/PL) Srinagar, KASHMIR: The ceasefire line which divides Pakistan-administered Azad Jammu & Kashmir from Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir lies 23 kilometres away. Life is peaceful today in this part of the disputed region.

The sweet fragrance of saffron fills the air. Nearby are snow-capped mountains, fruit orchards and splendid lakes, scenes which moved the 16th century Mughal emperor Nurrudin Muhammad Jahangir to describe Kashmir as paradise on earth.

With peace there comes another challenge. Water, which was once abundant in Rawalakot district, is now drying up. Groundwater levels are 250 ft below the earth, while 50 years ago, they were closer to 70 ft deep.

Residents in Banjosa village believe the problem stretches back for two decades but say that in recent years it has become worse.

Sitting at roadside wooden bench Muhammad Naseem Khan, 50, a junior school teacher says water shortages are easy to spot. “Only three fountains out of eight left in area, which is alarming,” he says.

“We were growing tons of rice, maize and potatoes earlier, had healthy livestock but due to low rain, dry fountains and streams, even growing wheat is challenging,” adds retired army employee Muhammad Mumraiz Khan.

Women, whose job it is to provide household water are travelling further and further in the search for fresh springs.

Faiza, 18, is on her way to Dana Kottehri, a small village next to Banjosa, “I have to travel six km to attend school and further three km to get one gagar (pot) of water and mostly [I am] carrying water three times a day,” she says.

“It’s really hard to fetch water in a mountainous track on daily basis, spending half the day in school and rest of that in fetching water, grabbing most of my study hours, attending school with pain in my body.”

As we enter the small village of Danna Kottehri, another woman is pouring water in gagar and used oil cans through a motor driven pump.

Nussrat Khanam, 25, explains that an average household needs between 10 and 12 pots of water a day. Fetching this takes up most of her day. “I have invested my life for water fetching exercise but in return nutrition, health, education [are] still a distant dream” she says.

Asif Hayat, the sub-divisional officer at the public health department in Rawalakot says over-exploitation of water resources is to blame for the shortages. “The rapid increase in population and massive plantation of alien plants like eucalyptus are the main factors [to blame for] lowering water tables,” he explains. Fast-growing eucalyptus trees have been planted for cash crops, but have also been linked to the depletion of ground water levels.

Unpredictable weather is adding to the problem. Prolonged dry spells are followed by unexpectedly heavy rains and there is less snowfall. Asif Hayat explains that winter is arriving later and heavy rains are now common in summer.

Muhammed Yaqoob Khan, now in his 80s, has lived in Azad Kashmir since the 1930s, “In my 20s, I witnessed five or six feet snow falling from late October until mid March, now winter is approaching late in November and weather is getting warmer after mid February,” he says.

With slight pause and worried expression, he says, “Now it’s different, we were not using fans at home, but now it’s essential during summers. It’s really amazing in a mountainous area, isn’t it?”

Changing weather patterns means the government must get better at planning resources, says Dr. Asif Shah, an environmental scientist and director general of AJ&K (Azad Jammu & Kashmir) Earthquake Reconstruction & Rehebilitation Agency (SERRA) says.

“More care is needed in utilizing water resources across Kashmir and Pakistan because in the wake of recent events like 2010 floods, heavy rains and drought, it seems climate is changing at unexpected pace.”

The district government in Rawalakot has recently built additional water tanks, but local residents say this is not enough.

Rawalakot’s deputy commissioner Sohail Azam says there are abundant water supplies in the country. The challenge is to build the infrastructure.

“We have abundant water resources in Singara and working on Singara Water Supply Scheme with Chinese assistance,” he says. “After completion in 2014, this project would meet 0.1 million gallons per day water requirement of Rawalakot city alone.”

“We are planning the same for rural areas to develop small water reservoirs,” he adds.

____________________________

In addition to WNN – Women News Network, the work of Pakistan journalist Faisal Raza Khan can be seen on DAWN News. This feature was produced by Faisal Raza Khan as part of a fellowship with the Climate Change Media Partnership, an initiative of Internews, IIED and Panos.

Original artcile here- http://womennewsnetwork.net/2012/06/13/kashmir-wome-water-climate-change/

 

Fire destroyed 200-year-old Sufi shrine Peer Dastgeer Sahib in June 2012. Photo: Abid Bhatt

Very recently a friend appearing in an interview in New Delhi was asked a strange question. Why was Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan offered tight security in Kashmir? Does it mean militancy is still a major threat? The applicant quoted police figures on garrisoned Kashmir saying not more than 247 rebels fight over half a million troops in Kashmir, plus several thousand spies and nearly a lakh cops. To him and many others the security was offered to shield the star from “unruly” fans. Rewind to the interview. So many mosques are coming up in Kashmir. Why are people suddenly turning religious? I mean I heard the youth are getting radicalised, another interviewer asked? The outspoken applicant in reply sought reasons as to why so many small temples have come up along Srinagar-Jammu highway, away from local Hindu population, which was not the case until few years ago. The interview then suddenly shifted to the applicant’s extra-curricular activities.

For the past many years, the question of mosques coming up in every lane of Kashmir is being asked. Then religious groups like Jamiat-e-Ahl Hadith (JAH) or the Salafis (popular but contemptuously referred to as the Wahabis and a constituent group of Sunni Muslims), Deobandi and Barelvi outfits (Shrine goers) or even Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) are discussed. Years ago JeI was pegged as a group from which youth sought inspiration from. Note, the state has often described people ‘radical’ once they offer it formidable belligerence, politically or ideologically.

In recent years, we’ve been told that JAH is promoting Saudi Islam or Wahhabi Islam in Kashmir, a land that has roots in Sufi ethos, in an attempt to push it against Barelvi sect. And now a new group Carvan-e-Islam that randomly came from nowhere has started promoting ‘moderate Islam’. It has seen a valley’s top bureaucrat leading its rallies, although he has been denying regularly that he promotes any one sect in Kashmir either personally or in official capacity. One wonders how processions of Carvan-e-Islam are allowed by the state while the Ashura processions of Shia Muslims always face strict curbs, water cannons, aerial firing and bamboo beating every year.

Last few months has seen target killings of personnel of religious groups. And with it several Kashmir mosques (mostly belonging to Hanafi sect—which in the eyes of the state follow moderate Islam) started catching fires. Almost half a dozen cases of fires witnessed that also saw a famous Sufi shrine getting devastated in Srinagar’s Khanyar area. Separatists suspect it as the “handiwork of agencies” hell-bent on dividing the Kashmir society along religious lines and “weakening the united resistance”, while the police has been blaming either miscreants or short circuits as cause of fire.

If we look back, one would realise how complex the situation has remained ever since the armed rebellion for Azadi broke out in 1989 and how the state has actually sided with the group (irrespective of its ideology) that doesn’t pose any threat to it.

For example, JAH that preaches puritanical Islam owes its rise to the not-so-powerful-now JeI, which was cut to size by various state machineries during the past few decades. JeI — a cadre-based politico-religious body in the state was a revivalist movement and had operated within a moderate Hanafi framework. It fuelled Islamic movement in the Valley through a definite doctrine but in sync with socio-cultural essence of the Valley. JeI brought modern religious education in Kashmir by organising seminars, discussions, opening schools and donation centres. However, as JeI also proved to be a political wing of the largest militant outfit, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, it soon saw itself juxtaposed to state and Centre policies. Soon notorious renegades and government gunmen started hounding JeI members triggering a huge flux among JeI cadres, who fled from villages to Srinagar and other urban areas. The JeI’s weakness created a huge vacuum only to be filled by the JAH. Side by side huge militarisation, raging conflict and loss of identity forced Kashmiris to live in a highly insecure environment. While civilians were seeking refuge in religion, the JAH proved to be the only platform that until now had the state patronage.

The JAH had initially faced opposition. For example, in South Kashmir’s Shangus area there are instances when members of JAH tried to preach in Hanafi mosques but kangris (traditional fire pot) were hurled on them. Similar other instances meant the JAH wouldn’t preach their ideology in local masjids. The takeover was failing. But soon the JAH started constructing their own mosques. The strong factor that saw the JAH penetrate deeper into Kashmir society was increased militarisation of the Valley. In many instances villagers going for morning prayers were suspected as militants and shot dead by troops. Previously villagers or citizens would walk for several kilometres to reach a mosque, but fear of getting killed saw mosques coming up in lanes after lanes. And as population swelled from 77,18,700 in 1991 to 1,25, 48,926 in 2011, expansion of rural and urban areas also saw hundreds of mosques coming up. The JAH’s money from Saudi Arabia was unrestricted so was its influence that was fast spreading especially among educated youth of the Valley. While the state agencies were clipping JeI’s power, the JAH found itself close to the state. The same state which now seems appeasing the shrine believer sect Barelvis. In fact in 2008 the then Governor Lt Gen (retired) SK Sinha helped the then JAH cleric Maulana Showkat for setting up the Transworld Islamic University. The JAH was given 12 acres of land. Reportedly ample financial support from Saudi Arabia had come too. The state agencies chose to stay ignored. Interestingly, Showkat was killed in a cycle bomb episode one Friday in 2011. Salafi ideology Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT)would later blame “traitors from our own ranks” for the murder.

There are instances of killings that show irrespective of what ideology one follows, proximity with New Delhi and state agencies were the reasons of assault on people. For instance, in Seer village of South Kashmir, years ago pro-India People Democratic Party (PDP) worker Ghulam Nabi Khan who was a Salafi Muslim (JAH) by ideology was shot by militants. Then some JeI members were also killed just because of their affiliation with the PDP and not because of what sect they belonged to. It was never a sectarian fight.

Even in pro-Azadi JKLF, some members follow the JAH ideology though the party they work for has a shrine-goers baggage. In police department some key officials, who were at the forefront of counter insurgency some time back, follow Wahabbi Islam but work against the militants often driven by pan-Islamism. Again while the JAH is thought to be proponents of violent Islam it was the JAH’s Maulana Showkat who did a strong peacemaking when years ago members of Muslim and Sikh community came head-on over some issue. Showkat’s march had both JKLF and Sikh members.
The JKLF is many times promoted as a secular party because it fits in the dominant state narrative, despite the fact that they were the ones to shut down cinemas, burn down liquor shops and involved in many civilian kidnappings. If a research is done, the LeT, which the state sees as the most-ruthless group, will be found involved in very small number of cases in which civilians were killed. “In fact it’s the only militant group,” one senior journalist believes, “that apologised for killing an unarmed defence PRO (Major Purushottam ) when its Fidayeen squad entered Srinagar’s Badami Bagh army cantonment in November 1999. Purushottam had saved three visiting photojournalists in the toilet before he was shot.” But since the LeT has been capable to recruit many locals and has been involved in many spectacular attacks on the police and army installations, the group has been easily passed as the one doing something that goes against ‘Kashmiriyat’.

Sectarian war in Kashmir will favour the state which has been facing a popular rebellion so far. And since the Home Ministry’s survey recently found that nearly 60 percent of angry youth who took part in the 2010 civil unrest had spent ample time listening to religious discourses in (Wahabbi) mosques or on the net, pitting good Hanafi against bad Wahabbi, seems the next gamble. Earlier, the army had claimed to have funded renovation of Sufi shrines under Operation Sadhbavana until it faced a fatwa in 2007 and recently personnel of Rashtriya Rifles (RR) were seen offering food at a local Barelvi shrine. The state too is massively funding construction or renovation of many Hanafi shrines which can prove a dangerous trend.

If one carefully observes the standards of living of some senior Barelvi leaders, who have become active in recent months, as well as the reach of the JAH among the educated youth of Kashmir, it suggests that funds are coming for either sects and whether this money is coming from approved channels or from some mysterious quarters, the intention of triggering passions between the two sects seems the prime motive.

As I write this piece, North Kashmir’s Handwara district is protesting against the desecration of yet another mosque today. And, like, always police has registered a case against “unidentified miscreants”.

Mohammad Umar BabaAuthor: Baba Umar’s career started with The Indian Express in Srinagar where he reported on the South Asia earthquake of 2005. In the following years, he wrote features for Kashmir’s first online news magazine Kashmir Newz and in 2008 he joined Rising Kashmir as a senior reporter where he covered 2008-09-10 civil unrest. Baba specializes in producing stories mostly on Kashmir conflict and water disputes in India. Baba joined Tehelka in 2010 and the next year saw him winning ICRC (Geneva)-Press Institute of India (PII) award for his news report on victims of armed conflict in Kashmir.

 

 

Ghulam Nabi Azad: Punish those responsible for baby deaths at Srinagar's GB Pant Hospital

M Saleem Pandit, TNN | Aug 3, 2012, 01.18AM IST

SRINAGAR: The J&K government appointed inquiry commission headed by Dr Showkat Hussain Zargar to probe the death of infants in Srinagar‘s GB Pant Hospital on Thursday held that their numbers were much higher than hitherto reported: more than 1,400 in the last one year. The Zargar commission also indicted the former medical superintendent of the pediatric hospital, Dr Javid Chowdhary, describing him as “irresponsible” and “negligent”.The state government had ordered a probe after media reports revealed that hundreds of infants had died in the hospital due to official apathy. The final report has recommended a complete ban on private practice by doctors in state’s collegiate hospitals.

Dr Zargar, who is also the director Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, has suggested that no consultant may leave the OPD until four pm, which is when most doctors rush out for their private practice. He also said heads of department of concerned units must educate the faculty about this. Engagement of doctors in private practice was the main cause of infighting among faculty members, which hampered the functioning of GB Pant Hospital, the report said.

“Misunderstandings, allegations and counter-allegations by majority of faculty members againstDr Javid Chowdhary started in 2005 when he jointed the health institute,” the report said, pointing out that “in case any faculty member is found to indulge in corrupt practices with drug agencies, immediate criminal proceedings should be initiated against them.”

“Most of the times, the MS (Dr Chowdhary) remained out of hospital. Rest of the staff took advantage of his absence and came to the hospital as per their wish. Besides Dr Chowdhary, other doctors too were engaged in private practice,” the report adds. It indicted him for embezzlement of funds in purchase of machinery for the hospital. “The ventilators were purchased through dubious means and were not of standard. One among the two developed a snag and the hospital was running on one ventilator,” the report said.

The government has admitted that 480 infants have died at GB Pant Hospital since January, which takes their total death toll in the past 17 months to a 1400. “A drug mafia was running in the hospital to fleece patients. A team of doctors and staff was helping it flourish,” the report said.