Monday, November 25, 2013

Of BOPEE, Omar and his Kiyanis

By Naseer A Ganai

National Conference likes to take credit of everything that happens in Jammu and Kashmir. Like Peoples Democratic Party, which sees itself as the party of statesmen and projects every meeting between Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan as fruits of Mufti Muhammad Sayeed’s policies of 2003, the NC also has bizarre parameters of taking credit.

Even if Rahul Gandhi’ snubs NC leader in public, that too is construed as positive sign by the party. After all, they would say, it was snub from Rahul Baba. So it was not unusual on the part of the NC to take credit of the recent revelations about MBBS exam scandal.

The BOPEE officials allegedly in league with few brokers are accused of selling exam papers to greedy people ahead of the examination. The NC leadership says they exposed the scandal. The Crime Branch claims they did it. For year on the Crime Branch was sitting on the eggs presuming the case would get solved on its own. The impotent government, which takes credit of exposing the case now, waited for over a year that the Crime Branch would deliver something in the end. It waited for a year for promised delivery never realising that even Viagra doesn’t help the impotent. The Crime Branch delivered after the High Court intervened.  

The crime is so grave that the government should have apologised to people for posting Mushtaq Peer as BOPEE chief. What was the need of getting a professor from the university and posting him as chief of the BOPEE? The government does same thing with the Board of School Education (BOSE). The impersonation case of the Minister for Some Unknown Enterprises, Peerzada Sayeed’s son surfaced during the former BOSE Chairman Bashir Ahmad Sheikh’s tenure, who initially described it as issue of copying. Sheikh was professor in some collage before being posted as the BOSE chief. The government, however, found in him spark of genius like Mushtaq Peer and decided to appoint him as chairman of the BOSE. He left BOSE like Peer after ruining it. This is what professors do when appointed to handle the jobs they have no expertise of and qualification.

When a person retires, he should be graciously asked to retire, sit at home and take care of his grandchildren. If he has talent he would do something great. He would write a book or two. Or open some new enterprise. People do lot many good things after retirement. Here they only seek an extension after extension. They should realise that they are not General Ashfaq Kiyanis that they need extension.  Their retirement would not tilt the geo-strategic balance and cause anxiety around the world. Even Kiyani’s is retiring.

Look at the members of the Public Service Commission (PSC). They are all retired chamchas. In 2010, the PSC was accused of facilitating children and relatives of some of its’ members in the CCS exam by giving them higher marks in the interview.

So there is no place for retired deadwood in the PSC, SSRB, BOSE, BOPEE, RTO and other departments. They ruin even culture, language and heritage of the departments. Utmost care should be taken while posting lower rung officials in PSC, SSRB, BOSE, RTO and BOPEE. Honesty and competence should be benchmark.

Instead of a retired officer, a serving official can do better. He is accountable. And he can say no. What can politician do it to him except sending him to another department? This retired army of officials that Omar Abdullah and his predecessors have given extension after extension is killing talent here.

The government has given extension to RTO as if he was doing some exemplary work and without him all vehicles would have halted. And we all know how system works in the RTO? The government should have posted some young honest official as RTO and it would have felt change on the roads.

There is great talent in Kashmir. There are honest and young official, who have guts to say no to the greedy politicians. There are officials, who are not worried about transfers. There are officials, who want to do something. But young and dynamic chief minister would not find them anywhere because he seems overawed by the retirees. And when scams surfaces, he says I exposed them. So be thankful to me and my Kiyanis. They are not going to retire.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Your Lordships, it s now or never

By Naseer A Ganai

The High Court issued an exemplary order. It sought details of income and assets of all officials of Srinagar Municipal Committee (SMC). The SMC acted like the SMC. It furnished details of assets of sweepers instead. 
The court reprimanded the SMC counsel and sought property details of officials, inspectors, ward officers, khilafwarzi officers etc. Property details of their spouses and children. Their movable and immovable assets.

There is no doubt that the SMC is responsible for the ugly growth of the city. The SMC officials, who allowed this to happen, deserve to be punished like the ugly malls they have allowed to construct in the residential areas.

There might be honest officials in the SMC. There is no dearth of honest people in Kashmir or in the SMC. These honest people could be found on any roadside dhaba sipping tea and discussing 'metaphysics' like whether Obama should intervene in Kashmir or whether Taliban would take Kashmir route after the US exist from Afghanistan. Their “other” colleagues have no such philosophical ambitions. They are straightforward. They mean business. Paisa phenko shopping mall dekho. 

The “other-ones” usually take a lead. But it is first time, thanks to the High Court, that “the others” might be facing ire of their spouses and children. But then, they say, every “other” has his day.  

There is not a single area in the city, which is residential. Every residential area has malls. Every mall has shops.  There is an argument. That if these malls would be touched, it would bring chaos and confusion in the society.  Will it? Is government afraid about law and order situation? It is joke.

Let us play devil’s advocate and argue that if these malls would be ‘assaulted’ it will bring chaos in the society? But then every chaos brings an order. There is dire need of an order in the society. A common man constructs a house after years of struggle and then neo-rich comes and constructs a huge mall just in front of his house leaving him seething and frustrated with anger. The common man and his children land in a clinic of psychiatrist while as wards of neo-rich enjoy beech dances in England and Bali.

There is dire need to end this belly-dance of neo-rich, who have legalised everything for themselves.  Sooner the better. Otherwise tomorrow they would become the United States and it would be difficult to take on them.

There is need for positive intervention. The chaos should not be allowed to go on. It has to be stopped. What has been done has to be undone. The responsibility should be fixed, officials should be identified and punished and people be rid of this chaos, once and forever.

The government must be ordered to earmark some land in the city outskirts for the malls just like you have in other cities. Why you want to choke people of residential areas.

Raj Bagh was once beautiful area to reside. Today its’ residents might be fleeing seeking asylum somewhere. It has become Somalia of Kashmir. There is no order. There is nothing. There are malls, hotels, guest houses, restaurants and more malls.

Barzulla was once a residential area. Now it has malls and more malls. At the pace with which these malls are coming up, soon their owners will post guards outside them, who would force people to enter these malls and ask them to buy something from their shops. Forcible purchase would soon be added into economic lexicon.

Look at the old city. It has become cesspool. If not intervened now the old city would soon turn into Dharavi of Kashmir.

There is not a single building, constructed in past many years, which is an architectural marvel. These building look like stray dogs. They just bark on the city and its’ citizens. The malls and other commercial buildings also reflect aesthetics of the city and its’ people. If we claim we have 5000 year old history. That too a written history. Then the architect of our buildings should reflect that we have an aesthetic sense. But they reflect we have none. They have no connection with our past. On this aspect alone they deserve a harshest punishment. They deserve to be slapped along with those who permitted their construction.

 Some malls even don't have parking lots and others don’t have even washing rooms. Such are the people, who own some of these malls. They don't keep washing rooms in their malls. Even their owners deserve mental restructuring.

Those, who propagate the theory that illegal malls bring prosperity and employment, tell half truth. The illegal malls only bring prosperity to mall owners. The malls have brought prosperity among the employees of the SMS, who have permitted them. They have enriched those who have sold these shops. There is no trickle down effect. Malls don’t bring economic prosperity.  They only uplift already rich class. Middle class have no money to enter malls to buy branded clothes. They throng Sunday market on Sunday to find out whether they could purchase something there too or not.

No one is against rich. They have every right to be rich and very right to enjoy riches. But being rich doesn't mean you become “mall rich” and construct a mall wherever you wish. No illegal mall is above law.   

We live in seismic zone-five. And if earthquake measuring seven magnitude someday hit the city, these buildings would be our graves. We will be buried under them and “the other” SMC officials would charge money from the children of the dead for providing death certificates of the deceased.

Time has come when “the other” in the SMC should be made to understand that it is not wrong to discuss metaphysics and it is not wrong to be an honest.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Muzaffer Parray aur peechay say

By Naseer A Ganai

Several Congress leaders were addressing few hundred congress workers at Congress headquarters at M.A Road in Srinagar today. Since they were waiting for the Congress vice-president, Rahul Gandhi, they thought it better to engage workers-both men and women- by sermonising them.

The congress vice-president Muzaffer Parray was conducting the proceedings. Once in his address, he said, the speakers should not criticise openly each other. In private after permission they can, he said. 

Then came some Abid Hussain. He praised Sham Lal and described him the best Minister available among Congress lot. His speech evoked angry shouts. Mostly pro-Taj Mohideen slogans. Taj Mohidden also gave long speech. He asked workers that they would now get Rs 3 kg rice and they should get ration cards to avail the benefit.

But Nisar Ahmad, who was introduced as general secretary youth wing of State congress, gave an interesting speech. He went upto the dias and commenced his address. Congress is future and more and more youth should join the Congress. Congress is a great…and soon he cut short his short speech saying he has to conclude as “Parray sahab mujay peechay say kuch kar rahain hai,” he said. Parray, who was few inches behind him, had singled him to cut short his speech.

Red faced Parray could not tolerate this accusation that he was doing “kuch kuch” in public. So he explained in serious and grave mood, “We Kashmiris often don’t know how to translate Kashmiri into Urdu. That is why peechay say things happen.” And this evoked laughter from all sides. By now everyone understood peechay say. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Away from Zuckerberg’s people

By Naseer A Ganai

Many a times I thought I should leave the Facebook. I was sick of it. A friend once wrote that everyone on the facebook is happy, smiling and coming or going to Honolulu. But I tell you all is not well there.

Some are even getting crushed under their own weight, some JD is looking for AB and some AA is dying for CD. Some are feeling possessed, some upload saddest of sad songs. Some write to demolish friends and colleagues. Some start discussing Kashmir and end up discussing Kashmiris and then Peers and fakirs. Some are only interested in shes, hers and theirs. All women are girls there. And all girls are young.

Some shout, “rain!.” Some cry “snow!.” For some "It is sunny outside." For some, “life is miserable” and they put this “miserable life” as their status message. Some wives are so fond of their husbands that they write: “Without you Janu, I would have damn ended up somewhere else. Thanks for rescuing me.” There is shock and awe in these status messages.

It is mad world out there. So the other day I decided to give up this brave new mad world. I gave up citizenship of Mark Elliot Zuckerberg’s empire.

I went off from the FB after deactivating it temporarily. And I felt liberated. I am no longer in AB, CD and JD world. That time I wanted to address people and wanted tell them what liberation means. But there was no one available. Perhaps JD was chatting with AB and the CD with BC. All were on-line.

I started looking at books which I had bought but never read. I thought I will devour them. Read them. Reread them. Memorize them. It was different feeling.

I took a book, Love Virtually and read its' few pages. Soon I was restless. I tossed it to one side as the book tells about online world and online love. The book made me think about online world again. What JD might have written to CD and what BC might have written to DD. I wanted to know. And there was no way to know it.

I was thinking whether these people would have been feeling my absence. It is 12 hours and I am off from the Facebook. And no one showed up to ask me where are you? Damn. There was not even a condolence message over my temporary on-line demise. The world is indifferent. But  I never thought it can be so callously indifferent.

I finally decided to log in again. And when I logged in, I found no change in the on-line world. It was smiling, joking and discussing. JD had uploaded his pictures with smile on his lips, laptop in his lap and his legs under blanket. He had captioned it as “warm!”. CD had uploaded his bedroom pictures. ‘Me in my favourite bedroom.” Another was sad and had posted: “three more died in an accident.” This status was getting lot of likes.

 Another person, let us call him CC, was worried about gay rights in Syria. Another had posted Nietzsche’s quote about unhappy marriage and another one had posted about Omar Abdullah and his occupation in coming week. A journalist friend had uploaded his story. Uploading one's own story on the Facebook means aa bail mujhe maar. Anyway some people  are fond of bails.

A friend had uploaded smiling pictures of a group of women in Royal Spring Golf Course. They were jumping. Affectingly looking at each other. But I should tell you that no one among these youngsters was less than 45 years. Jumping and smiling often gives good notion about your age. I thought I would send friend request to all these jumping youngsters but then resisted the great temptation. Who is sending friend request to whom, tops gossip charts here. And it becomes a top rumour in the online world.

All this made me realise that no one cares about whether I am on the Facebook or not. So in order to make my presence felt, I, as usual, uploaded some articles from some heavy weights without reading them. I also went on at like spree and started liking every picture that was uploaded by people across the globe. Like politics is big politics in the online world. Some people even ask: why you did not like my picture? And some even ask: why didn't you comment on my picture, post, please comment in the evening. So keep on liking. 

I was waiting that someone would tell me-where were you for past 12 hours. But no one asked. This Zuckerberg world is callous than America. May America drone it to death! But till it does so, I am on Facebook. And I like it!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mehbooba, Omar in times of Hassan Mirs

By Naseer A Ganai

Two highlights of a debate on a motion about V.K Singh in recent session of the legislative assembly of Jammu and Kashmir were: 'ahistorical' speech of Mehbooba Mufti and its 'apolitical' response by the chief minister, Omar Abdullah.

Both spoke at length. Mehbooba talked about her father, her father and more about her father. She laid emphasis on the word father. She paused, looked around and repeated that people called her father, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, an Indian, Pakka Hindustani unlike Sheikh Abdullah. “My father, my father, my father” she said, “went to Muzaffarnagar in UP, fought elections there and got elected from there. But he did not change his ideology and conviction,” Mehbooba said as if begging before Indian parliament and reminding it what her father has done for India and how Indian state has been indifferent to his contribution, dedication and love for India and kept it away from power since January 1, 2009.

She accused Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah of constructing the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir in 1950 and later deconstructing the same in 1953 after his arrest.

“What was the need to agitate in 1953 after you decided in 1947 to be with India? See my father, he did not change his conviction,” she said, again reminding India that it should believe those who are Indians by conviction and not these National Conference people who are political turncoats.

V.K Singh was not mentioned in her speech except once when she said 'Ham Agae Biknay kay lay tayaar nahi.'

Next speech, Mr. Omar Abdullah: a lot of fury signifying nothing. He said he would have taken action against Ghulam Hassan Mir had he felt that the government can be toppled by mere Rs 1.19 crore. Even a municipality cannot be toppled with this amount, Omar said. Taking action against Mir is not easy. It needs courage. You cannot take on gods and get away with it. Omar knows it.

So Omar took another route. He said he has written to the prime minister and informed to him that V.K Singh has turned Assembly members into “paid operatives of army.” Omar revealed he complained to the prime minister about tapping of his phone. We hope soon PMO would respond to the Omar’s letter that tapping phone is no big deal even prime minister’s phone is tapped at times and he never complains, he only smiles. But let us hope one day like Radhia tapes, Army also comes up with the CDs of Omar tapes. They will have huge market. Qasam Hassan Mir ki.

But someone should ask Omar Abdullah that does it matter if a person takes Rs 1.19 crore to topple a government or Rs 1000 crore? How can you justify an arrest of a peon under prevention of corruption act for taking Rs 100? Does his taking bribe of Rs 100 amount to a threat to the State. It doesn't, but you still arrest him. When you arrest a youth and charge him for waging a war against State for his Facebook post, how can you justify it?

Moreover, if you take money for some cause like toppling the government, that too of Omar Abdullah, you position yourself after seeing the worth of the government. Omar Abdullah’s government has not even net worth of Rs 19 lakh.  It is intriguing why army provided Mir, according to a leaked army report, Rs 1.19 crore to topple Omar Abdullah’s government. Rs 19 lakh were enough! This indeed should be investigated.

The chief minister insisted that he would have taken action against Mir, but he did not feel it was necessary. Because, Omar argued, for Rs 1.19 crore you cannot even topple a Municipality. How ill-informed the chief minister is! There is vast difference between the Municipal Corporations and the State government led by him.

Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) is everywhere in the form and shape of illegal malls, shopping malls, shops, hotels and all illegal constructions. His government is nowhere. It has to be searched.
The chief minister has no clue of the SMC powers. Even a peon of the SMC can give permission for construction of a shopping mall in front of the chief minister’s residence and argue that it was to facilitate shopping of army of guards of chief minister and other ministers. 
The assets of officials of the SMC and Jammu Municipal Corporation officials would help the government to overcome its budget deficit. The Finance Minister should take note of it.

The chief minister should be informed if there are massive shopping malls in Srinagar and Jammu, credit must go to the successive chief Khilaaf Warzi officers and their subordinates and successive commissioners of SMC and JMC. They allowed growth of all type of buildings in the city presuming they are turning Srinagar into Singapore. They turned Srinagar turned into cesspool. They did it with impunity. You can seal these illegal buildings, which need to be bulldozed, but you cannot take on the SMC officials. The SMC is the government. You need Rs 10,000 crore to topple the SMC. It has worth of Rs 20,000 crore given the size of shopping malls in Srinagar.  So the chief minister should take back insulting words against the municipal corporation. If Army over estimates his government’s worth, it doesn’t mean he should also under estimate worth of the SMC and JMC.

In all this Ghulam Hassan Mir came out as a winner. Nothing will happen to him. Nothing happened to him. Perhaps he will win again. He will again be made as cabinet minister. We live in times of Ghulam Hassan Mirs. They are politicians here. They are Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. They are bureaucrats here. They are the assembly and they are the secretariat. In pro-India stock market exchange of Srinagar, stocks of Ghulam Hassan Mirs and theirs sons and daughters are touching skies.  The world economy might be facing recession but not Hassan Mirs. That is why both Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti tried hard not to speak against Hassan Mirs and their companies hoping one day their present response would be taken as an future investment and they would reap its’ benefits in election times.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Zubin answer to prayers of Kashmiri Islamists and liberals

By Naseer A Ganai

IN early nineties when people would shout pro-Pakistan slogans in every anti-India protest, a youth in uptown locality of Srinagar one day called upon protesters to raise pro-America slogans. He argued had Kashmiris shouted pro-America slogans instead of pro-Pakistan shouts, America would have rushed to rescue Kashmir from India. The protesters took it as joke and laughed. They moved on shouting pro-Pakistan and pro-Azadi slogans.

A lot has changed in the past 20 years and still something’s remained unchanged. Pro-Azadi slogans replaced pro-Pakistan slogans. But Kashmiri liberals and educated class continue to have hope on America and the West. Like the youth of the uptown locality, who perhaps in 1993 persuaded protesters to shout pro-America slogans hoping that Americans jets would come to Kashmir after hearing pro-US chants, liberals hope that if they take pro-west stance and deny Indians chance of calling Kashmiris as “Islamists”, it would go well with the West.

It matters to Kashmiris how the west perceives them. What the western newspapers write about Kashmir also concerns every Kashmiri. And Kashmiris take it seriously because they hope that the west would one day realise that Kashmir resolution is its’ obligation.

But the facts on the ground speak otherwise. Germany is here not for any political intervention but with Zubin Mehta show.  Over the years Kashmiris have been seeking intervention of European Union to settle Kashmir issue. And Germany, an important member of the EU, has instead chosen to intervene in Kashmir with a Zubin Mehta concert. Kashmiris have submitted thousands of petitions to the UNMOG office here in Sonawar calling the UN to settle Kashmir. Hardliners, moderates, from three-year old child to eighty-year-olds have gone to the UNMOG office with memorandums, praying and pleading for the UN intervention.

It is strange whom the west calls 'Islamists' or hardliners have repeatedly reposed faith on the institutions of the West like UN which United States has used to invade countries and justify wars in the name of restoring democracies around the world. The UN is being trusted by the Islamists and moderates of Kashmir. They have unwavering faith on the UN, the US and the Britain. Just see how pro-freedom groups eagerly meet lower rung western diplomats at their houses presuming them as close aides of Obama and Ban Ki Moon and next day they issues statements with pictures that they met officials of this embassy and informed them about Kashmir issue and the need to resolve it.

But the west has always repaid with Zubin like shows. That is their commitment to India, Indian democracy and now Indian market. Kashmir doesn’t figure anywhere. Kashmir is always “Kashmir of mind.” A Kashmir of sufi saints, shrines, composite culture, beautiful breathtaking beauty and of hospitable people, who are eager to serve visiting guests in idyllic houseboats calling every guest irrespective of their colour as bibi ji and sahib with folded hands.

Even after taking on Zubin Mehta’s Kashmir concert, Islamists and liberals of Kashmir while opposing Zubin Mehta show tried their best not to annoy the west as if it really cares whether Kashmiris are happy or not. Their response has been nuanced, decent, calculated matching the western standards of decency. They did not cite Israeli sympathies of Zubin as a reason to oppose the show. No one said the show and the music is un-Islamic as they used to. Even government recognized Mufti Bashir-u-Din, who would give fatwas on every issue in the world, desisted from doing so. Instead, all toed the line with octogenarian leader Syed Ali Geelani that the show would give wrong impression of Kashmir to the west -- an impression of normalcy! The liberals decided to counter the Zubin show with a parallel music show. It shows the west’s opinion still matters to Kashmiris and its’ liberals and its’ Islamist.

It reflects complete helplessness also. That for 60 years - both Islamists and liberals -have been pleading to the west that Kashmir is political issue not an ideological dispute. They have been seeking their intervention, their support and their sympathies. But they respond with Zubin Mehta shows and that is it. This is the net result of 60 years of our begging to the West. 

The maestro Zubin Mehta wished to have show in Kashmir, Germany said the wish would be fulfilled. That is the reality of the world. 

Zubin show will add to “Kashmir of mind” some more mysticism and mystery. More tourists would come for stay in houseboat and for taking ride in Dal Lake. Normalcy and peace songs would be sung by anchors of TV channels. Perhaps something more would happen. Islamists of Kashmir and liberals of Kashmir would not be the same henceforth.

Perhaps they would not even like to listen to likes of that uptown youth and his argument, who during the peak of militancy pleaded for pro-America slogans.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Of Himalayan cedars and ‘digital’ revolutionaries

By Naseer A Ganai

Sarcastically, they are called on-line revolutionaries, on-line jihadis, digital Che Guevaras, who give lectures on every issues and ask people how they should behave and talk.

They are accused of passing judgments on the character of every other person. These on-line ‘jihadis’ are derided for being in New Delhi and New York, as if it is sin to move out of the Valley. They are called burger-fed intellectuals as if eating burgers can turn you into a nincompoop from an intellectual. Or as if in the sacred book of revolution, it is written that burger eaters cannot be revolutionaries.
The biggest charge against them is that they are using pseudonyms and label people pro and anti-movement.

First accusation against them is that they are on-line revolutionaries. If that is true, it is a compliment. In these days when academics feels comfortable to talk about nothing in 5000 words when asked to comment about the present political situation, it is a huge thing to talk about revolution, even though online.

Writer and journalist, Ryszard Kapuscinski, in his book Shah of Shahs takes you to a person named, Mahmud, in pre-revolution Iran.
After coming from England to his homeland Iran, Mahmud was keen to understand what was going on in his country, which was at the brink of revolution.

Kapuscinski tells us that at the university Mahmud called on Ali Kaidi, his old companion, who had become a professor of Botany, a specialist in sclerophyllous plants. Mahmud asked him about the situation in the country. Kaidi thought for a moment and said that for years he had devoted all his time to sclerophyllous plants. He told him that sclerophyllous plants were found in the areas with specific climatic conditions…in winter, it was ephemeral species like the therophytes, while in summer it was the xerophytes.

These words meant nothing to Mahmud. So he asked his friend in a general way whether major events could be expected. Kaidi again thought and after a while began talking about splendid crown in the Atlantic cedar. “And yet,” Kaidi said, “I have examined the Himalayan cedar which grows in our country, and I must say that it is even more beautiful!”

The Ph.Ds awarded in different universities of the Valley in humanities and in social sciences departments indicate that situation is not better in today’s Kashmir. Here most people prefer to talk about Himalayan cedar when asked to comment about current situation.

In these times, if some people, though living in different places of the world, are talking about Azadi and economics of Kashmir after Azadi and trying to give answers to these questions, and asking about what kind nation state Kashmir should be after Azadi, they should be applauded for talking about the topic which we have avoided for long.

If they are debating whether strikes or voting help Kashmiris in any way, they deserve applause for debating these issues, which we often fear to bring in public realm. If they are debating statements issued by pro-freedom leadership, they deserve our appreciation for their courage. For long pro-freedom leadership has avoided debate and discussion around their deeds and statements. If they are doing content analysis of newspapers, why should it worry anyone?
There is nothing wrong in having an open debate. For long we have been discussing ourselves with outsiders and we have never felt any qualms about it. If anyone comes from outside and projects himself as a researcher, people without verifying his credentials, pour their heart out to him and tell him everything, hiding nothing.  Nothing. And if researcher happens to be of opposite gender, then sky is limit for her.

The leaders here find themselves at ease with researchers who come from outside Kashmir to study Kashmir, but they don’t disclose anything to Kashmiri researchers.

If educated class of Kashmiris is opening up to each other, it should be welcomed. A Kashmiri is a Kashmiri whether he is in New Delhi or New York. His heart bleeds for Kashmir and he or she has every right to express his opinion.

Expatriate Indians contribute more to India than Indians living in India. They determine what should be the policy of the United States of America towards India. No one in India says that they have no right to opinion as they are earning dollars in USA and don’t understand the pain and agony of common Indian. Why should a Kashmiri living and studying in USA, UK, Germany or in any other place of the world looks like an alien to fellow Kashmiri? This is strange.

A Kashmiri living in USA could live more comfortable life without thinking and posting his thoughts on Facebook or twitter.  It is their love for their motherland that prompts them to speak up. He or she belongs to this place, and rightly so, feels for this place. If you are away from your homeland, it doesn't mean you have no right to talk about it.
If his language is flawless, his argument forceful and his support for pro-freedom groups based on arguments and historical facts, why should it bother you? If he talks about the future of Kashmir, why should you call him an 'on-line jihadi' or 'on-line revolutionary'?
Recently when people tweeted about Gool incident one of the academic (read Himalayan cedar) had nothing but sarcasm in his store. ‘Now we will get Azadi through tweets,” he wrote.

This is not sarcasm, this is an insult to our fellow Kashmiris. After all we have all gone through pain and agony -- some of us physical pain and all of us through mental agony. Whether you are off line or on-line, you can never avoid this feeling of constant mental supervision.
That is why must talk. But we must not talk at each other. When Omar Abdullah is talking and talking bluntly about autonomy, when Mufti Sayeed is talking about self-rule, why should Kashmiri students in USA and other places be ridiculed for talking about Azadi, stone pelting, Islam, Pakistan and Azadi. .

If someone uses pseudonyms and likes to debate that way, nothing wrong with it. In a situation we are living in, if pseudonyms can save someone from the omnipresent arms of the state, why should we fret about it?

But then leveling charges of being a agent, paid agents and unpaid agent is something that degrades debate into a non-sense. And responding to such posts by naming people as digital Che Guevara’s makes mockery of whole thing.

Those, who debate far serious things on-line, if they malign friends and colleagues by calling them 'agents', it would do no good to anyone but it would only kill the debate. No one has a right to give certificates to anyone. Otherwise we will end up in a murky world of the land of agents where everyone will be suspect.

Kashmir is a land where Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah was accused and charged for being a Pakistani agent. It is the land where Omar Abdullah called Mufti Muhammad Sayeed as New Delhi’s agent in Kashmir. It is the land where a police official once called journalists agents of RAW and IB. It is easy to label people and condemn. But it is difficult to keep the debate going. If you want a healthy debate, you must stop accusing people of being agents and digital Che Gueveras.

We must talk to each other. Otherwise in the ‘land of agents’ we will be left to discuss only who is an agent and who is not.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Good Modi, Bad Modi

By Naseer A Ganai

India seems divided these days. It is divided between those who bash Modi and those who praise him. Those who support Narindera Modi say that India has moved on despite 2002 pogrom. They say Muslims are happy in Gujarat. They are breathing, they are eating. They are walking. They have been seen living. They have moved on, so should others, they argue.

Let us talk about development model of Modi. Puppies get under Land Cruisers, trucks, even scooters. That is part of life. There is no big deal in it.

However, anti-Modi camp is outraged that Modi can become Prime Minister. They have forgotten everything about Congress. Ask them about 1984, they say, “some riots took place in the country following the murder of Indiraji. We know the people were very angry and for a few days it seemed that India had been shaken. But, when a mighty tree falls, it is only natural that the earth around it does shake a little.”

They argue, they have moved on since 1984. They have moved on despite Nanavati commission report, which says, attacks on Sikhs in 1984 were “made in a systematic manner and without much fear of the police; almost suggesting that they were assured that they would not be harmed while committing those acts and even thereafter.”

The report adds, “male members of the Sikh community were taken out of their houses. They were beaten first and then burnt alive in a systematic manner. In some cases tyres were put around their necks and then they were set on fire by pouring kerosene or petrol over them. In some cases white inflammable powder was thrown on them which immediately caught fire thereafter.”  And Congressmen were leading this bloodshed.

They have also moved on from 1989 Bhagalpur.

Bhagalpur riots took place when the Congress was in power in Bihar and Jagannath Mishra was the chief minister and Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister. It is said during his visit to areas affected by riots, Rajiv Gandhi, the prime minister, ordered transfer of the then superintendent of police, K S Dwivedi, for his controversial role in anti-Muslim riots. The transfer order triggered protests from the VHP and Gandhi had to rescind the order. That year in Bhagalpur around 1,000 Muslims were killed. According to a researcher, Muslim men, women and children were hacked with machetes, entire families were killed and dumped in ponds, or people were locked inside their homes and burnt alive.

Life moved on. Congress, which didn't show courage to transfer a S.P. in Bhagalpur, now reminds us about 2002 Gujarat.

If Congress can rule India despite 1984 and 1989, despite hundreds of anti-Muslim riots across the length and breadth of India since 1947, why can't Modi. The idea of India is to move on despite pogroms, crimes against minorities and denial of right to self-determination to Kashmiris. Idea of India is AFSPA, which is in vogue in Nagaland since British handed over India to Congress in 1947.

People move on. Intellectuals in India move on. That is why this hate-Modi campaign sounds outrageous. It is ironical that intellectuals, NGOs and all outraged people, who are unnecessary outraged over Modi’s elevation in BJP, are sad over dumping of L.K Advani by the BJP.

On December 6, 1992, it was Advani’s Rath Yatra that culminated into demolition of Babri Masjid. But now Advani is a secular leader to them. They have never expressed any outrage against a "decision of indecision" of the then Congress Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao who was praying in temple all the while when the mosque was being razed to the ground by the ‘moderate, elated and enlighten Hindus.’

Rao is known for his famous quote; "It is not that I don't think about it (a decision). I think about it and make a decision not to make a decision."

His indecision was his decision on December 6, 1992, when a 500-year-old Babri Masjid was pulled down at Ayodhya. But they remember Rao for economic liberation, not for demolition of Babri mosque. So if others want to remember Modi for development, not for 2002, what is wrong in it? If Nitish Kumar can be secular despite elevating K S Dwivedi in 2011, why cannot Modi be counted as secular? After all it is question of puppies. If Advani is acceptable to them despite December 6, 1992, why is Modi unacceptable? Selective memories are not the domain of a single party.

They will not be outraged if BJP tomorrow chooses L.K Advani as its Prime Ministerial candidate. He is liberal to them now. After all he went to the mausoleum of Jinnah and wrote some words of praise for him.

Amartya Sen is the latest intellectual to join Modi bashers.
Leading intellectual historian, Perry Anderson, beautifully sums up Indian intellectual while explaining Sen’s dilemma. He says: “In late 2010, readers of the Indian press could find a headline ‘Nobel Laureate takes India to task for tolerating tyranny.’ Where would that be? Below, Amartya Sen uttered a plangent cry. ‘As a loyal Indian citizen,’ he exclaimed, ‘it breaks my heart to see the prime minister of my democratic country – and one of the most humane and sympathetic political leaders in the world – engaged in welcoming the butchers of Myanmar and photographed in a state of cordial proximity.’

Then Anderson explains it this way: “Moral indignation is too precious an export to be wasted at home. That the democracy of his country and the humanity of his leader preside over an indurated tyranny, replete with torture and murder, within what they claim as their national borders, need not ruffle a loyal Indian citizen. If we turn to Sen’s book 
The Argumentative Indian, we find, in a footnote: ‘The Kashmir issue certainly demands political attention on its own (I am not taking up that thorny question here).’ Nor, we might infer from that delicate parenthesis, anywhere else either. Nobel prizes are rarely badges of political courage – some of infamy – so there is little reason for surprise at a silence that, in one form or another, is so common among Indian intellectuals."

Modi phenomenon is not something unusual. Modis have been always there. They have been favourites of Congress, but only when they were in Congress. But this Modi is not part of the Congress. He is not under the fa├žade of secularism of Congress. He is blunt. He says what he means. He is a Hindu nationalist like Congress men and women. He says proudly that he is a Hindu nationalist and Congress men and women don’t say it. They prove it by their indecisions. Rao is an example.

Modi is a threat to the Congress. That is why this Modi is not good for them. That is why he should be denied visa to USA. That is why he should be reminded of 2002 again and again, that too by those who have no regrets about 1984, 1989 and Kashmir. This is really outrageous.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Omar, Akbar and Congress

By Naseer A Ganai

OMAR Abdullah speaks well. Indeed, he only speaks! His dialogue delivery is perfect. He doesn't miss a point. He uses Akbar Lone’s awe and strike method. But he adds some sophistication to it.

When Akbar Lone strikes, he abuses, he brings archaic abuses, which no longer are in usage, into the public domain. He adds some spice to them, puts them in context, and then he hurls them at his opponents with all his force. That is why it is difficult to tolerate “Lone abuse.” It can exasperate anyone. It takes the opponent some time to realise when in history such and such abuses were in vogue. Either the opponent walks out or he leaves space open for Lone, or her gets very angry. This way Lone achieves his objectives.

Omar, when feels cornered, brings historical facts of Kashmir dispute and then states them with force. He adds context to his speech. The opponents have to either leave open space for Omar, or get angry or accommodate his concerns about his party. In Lone’s case there is no space for reconciliation or accommodation.

Though he has not done something substantial for the State for past five years, Omar has only worked with Congress. Congress did all the work. So much so that three of its’ cabinet rank Ministers accuse each other of corruption and all Congress leaders write to the UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, who among them is more corrupt.

 But now Omar feels Congress is over-working.

It seems Omar feels that Congress has a plan to oust both the National Conference and the Peoples’ Democratic Party from the scene. So the grandson of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah directly took Congress to pre-August 9, 1953. He talked about autonomy and sought financial autonomy, talked about 20,000 MW power potential of the State, called for dialogue with Pakistan, and he also talked about PDP's self-rule. And then he talked about killings by army and hanging of Afzal Guru.

He then gave some context to his speech. He mocked at all those who “consider participation of people in Panchayati elections, qualifying of IAS and other All India Competitive Examinations by Kashmiris or selection of a local youth in Indian Cricket team have solved the basic political issues.” He described their mindset as ‘small’ and ‘unfortunate.” Then he warned them: “People in Kashmir may exhibit restrain and patience over various provocations…but that does mean that their patience will always be taken for granted.” In Lone’s case you can quickly react. Here you have to first understand his meaning.

It will take months for Congress to react to what Omar did to its 'IAS , Cricket and Udaan' in Jammu and Kashmir with just one speech.
From Kashmir University to Budgam villages, Congress has a method. It wants to be everywhere. It has ambitions. It has started thinking seriously about forming its own government in Jammu and Kashmir in 2014.

With BJP in disarray in Jammu, new political parties coming up in the Valley, and Omar’s National Conference has nothing to show to people except his speeches, Congress started riding the high horse.
Congress is hopeful of its dream coming true. The dream of Indira Gandhi that Congress should have its government in Jammu and Kashmir.

Congress wants to rise in India and wants to take off from Jammu and Kashmir.  And the party seriously thinks that it can. That is why at a function to start work on a State run Ratle Power Project in Kishtwar, the Chief Minister’s name was missing from the plaque.

When the Qazigund-Banihal rail tunnel was inaugurated, Omar’s name was missing. At the function Dr. Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi talked about development in Jammu and Kashmir and asked people to vote. But Omar expected them to talk politics and pre-poll alliance with the NC.  They did not. Then he took refuge in L.K Advani’s statement about Article 370 -- to show to the Congress that he knows how to speak. And on Sunday he delivered the whole speech perfectly.

Speeches matter here.  You can dismiss them but Kashmiris cannot. Why is Omar’s government confining whole separatist leaders to their homes? Because Omar knows what speeches can do! They make people aware of themselves. People start thinking. And who tolerates thinking people.

From his speech Omar has played a bigger game. He told Congress selection in IAS, Cricket and other things are good but we should talk about Kashmir dispute first. He also told Congress that development, howsoever massive, cannot bring a change. That is true. That anytime anything can happen. That Udaan and other such things are immaterial until political aspect of Kashmir is resolved and that one speech can ground any Udaan here.

Omar conveyed to Congress you better be NC’s ally, pre-poll and post-poll. He has not criticized Peoples’ Democratic Party. It looks strange, but then it might be seen as a move to reach out to the PDP. Options are open here. They always are in Kashmir politics.

By asking New Delhi to initiate meaningful dialogue with Pakistan and asking New Delhi not to equate poll participation with Kashmir solution, Omar tried to reach out to both Pakistan and pro-freedom leadership. That Assembly election is fine but it doesn’t mean Kashmir dispute is over.

Such nuances can never be seen in Akbar Lone’s rapid fire sessions, which start with accusing politicians of being horse thieves at a time when they are driving Land Cruisers and ends at charging them of ‘polygamy’ without entering into marriage with all twelve wives. And revealing that he has only wife. That too from Bachpan say.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Reading Mahjoor to Tagore

By Naseer A Ganai

At a function to release the stamp in the name of Peerzada Ghulam Ahmad Mahjoor at the SKICC here, the anchor of the show said
Rabindranath Tagore described Mahjoor as the 'Wordsworth of Kashmir.' Everyone in the audience clapped.

Audience is meant to clap, and it doesn't matter to them why they clap. The audience comprised of Mahila congress workers, some officials, some more yes-minister officials and officials of Cultural Academy of Art and Butchery.  All of them clapped.

They will never tell you why they clap over every utterance from the stage.  If you sneeze, they will clap. (How beautifully he sneezes!)
The anchor, who was ostensibly speaking in an English-like language, further said like 'Kashmir was heaven on earth.' This was followed by a huge round of applause. More claps!

The anchor, who was impressing himself more with his own voice, should be reminded of a small incident when in 2006 Jammu and Kashmir legislators went to Islamabad.

On their return, they said: "Islamabad looked like Europe." The legislators of the Heaven on Earth were surprised to see Europe in Pakistan’s Islamabad. Otherwise, it looks dreaded place where bombs explode in streets, in mosques and in air. During prayers and shopping. If Pakistan looked Europe to them, imagine what they will say once they will land in Bali. They would call it real heaven and look for 72 hoors.  

Thus exposure is necessary for the residents of alleged heaven on earth. Only then they will stop clapping. 

Mahila workers clapped for appeasing politicians, while officials clapped to appease higher officials. There's a method to this politics of appeasement. We are bonded together in this chain of appeasement.

When clapping stopped, I started wondering whether Tagore told Mahjoor himself that he is Wordsworth of Kashmir, or did he tell this to someone else, and that someone else accidentally conveyed it to Mahjoor. Or there is another possibility.  Tagore might not have stated this at all, but John Samuel, the head of Kashmir’s postal department, or his illustrious Kashmiri subordinates might have told this to the anchor to say it in order to give Mahjoor a romantic look and to let audience appreciate the worth of Wordsworth. 

Whether Tagore met Mahjoor or Mahjoor met Tagore is a question of debate. I think it is one of the crucial questions. When and where did Mahjoor meet Tagore or vice versa, and who were the witnesses of that ‘marathon meeting’ and what did they talk. What transpired in the meeting?

If they have not met, then we need not to bring witnesses and we should close the chapter saying there was no meeting at all. And when there was no meeting, obviously nothing transpired in the meeting which didn't take place. This issue should be settled once for all.
Now, the second issue. If Tagore has described Mahjoor as 'Wordsworth of Kashmir', this needs to be debated and researched. This should not be brushed aside as a matter of prestige and the presumption should not be presumed a fact. Let real facts come to fore.

If Tagore had not met Mahjoor, then how come Tagore read Mahjoor’s Kashmiri poetry and then described him as the Wordsworth of Kashmir? Was translation of Mahjoor’s work available at that time in Bengali and then Tagore read it in Bengali and then affectionately referred his fellow contemporary as Wordsworth? But why only Wordsworth of Kashmir, why not of Asia? Why Tagore confined him to Kashmir only?

Scholars should respond to these queries and explain us everything. Not Mahjoors. They should instead collect stamps.

A poet lives in the hearts of his people. He voices their fears. He speaks when they are silent and when they are silenced. Nation talks through its poets and litterateurs. And a nation never forgets mistakes of poets and politicians.

It is said Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah promoted Mahjoor over Abdul Ahad Azad. Thus Mahjoor became a court poet. Fifty years down the line, his progeny did no justice to him. They again made him a court poet by releasing a stamp in his name in an official function.
Sheikh was a towering leader. He was the voice of his people. Once. But then it took one foreign film for Kashmiris to understand what Sheikh was all about. In eighties, all those who saw Omar Mukhtar, came out of cinema halls and brought down tall portraits of Sheikh. It takes years to understand mistakes of leaders. And once people realise it, they never forget it.

I had forgotten that Mahjoor once was a court poet. I always remembered him as a beloved poet. My beloved poet. But the other day a stamp released in his name again reminded me why Sheikh preferred Mahjoor over Abdul Ahad Azad.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Good Times

By Naseer A Ganai

On a rainy winter evening, perhaps in 2005, Rashid Shahid was at his desk in Greater Kashmir newsroom. It was a tense evening. Shahid Sahib was angry. He was talking loudly to an official from Forest Department, who was on the other side of telephone line. “Just tell me, where have the horses and smugglers gone if you have seized smuggled timber, which, according to you, smugglers were carrying on horses?”

Somewhere in Bandipora jungles, the Forest Department had seized timber. In its press release the department had proudly talked about seizing timber, which smugglers were carrying on horses. But there was no mention of horses and smugglers.

Rashid Sahib was aghast over the audacity of forest department. He said the department has let off smugglers and their horses and seized some timber and now they want this news - that they have seized timber -- published in Greater Kashmir.  It was unacceptable to Rashid Shahid. Almost for an hour Shahid Sahib grilled the officials.  “Where have the horses gone?” The forest officials were speechless.  And the sentence: “where have the horses gone” echoed in Greater Kashmir newsroom for quite some time.

Nothing would miss his watchful eyes. His day would begin in the evening. It would not even end at midnight. In his sixties, he was the man among a lot of tired and sleepy young reporters.
Once you cross 60, you prefer the calm environs of your home; you frequently visit doctors, you regularly check your blood pressure, you don't take sugar, and you avoid salt tea. He had no such issues. If there was not enough sugar in his tea, he would not take it. If there was no salt in salt tea, he would say, pour more salt, more.
I have never seen anyone enjoying journalism as Rashid Shahid did. He was a journalist 24/7. He would call you, give you directions on how to go about a story, and then he would call you again and give you further directions. Then he would call you once more and give you more directions. He was with you all the time showing the way.

In the evening, when he would edit your story, he would again pull you up for missing the dots. But next day, when you would see your story, you would love to read and reread it.

His entry would transform the newsroom. Lazy reporters like me would instantly realise that leisure time is over.  He would call all reporters one by one to his desk and seek information about their stories. And then point out loopholes and ask them to correct it. Some of us would enjoy to sit with him only when he was editing story of some other reporter.

You also come to know a person when you  work with him. You also come to know about his tastes. If I wanted to do nothing for a day, I simply had to praise Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah in presence of Rashid Shahid. This was a sacrilege to Shahid Sahib. Shahid Sahib had an opinion about Sheikh -- he held him responsible for all miseries of Kashmiris. He was argumentative and believed in his argument only. I knew it. He would do everything to correct my perception but he never knew that I was just killing time.

Shahid Sahib was indeed a perfectionist. Every story was earth-shaking story for him. He would not miss even a comma, and he was particular about semicolon in the stories he mercilessly edited. He would never take half-baked stories and many a time would call you in the middle of the night and ask you to seek a quote from an official if it was not there in your story. He would not take this for a quote: “The official was not available for a comment.”
Official has to be available and he has to be on record. Lazy journalism, like writing, 'when contacted official was not available for comment,' was unacceptable to Shahid Sahib. “Hata ba’ba kous official chu nae available.” “Trace him and find him. It is part of our job,” he would say. .

He was young at heart. He had an amazing sense of humour. Once he pointed toward an article about human rights violation.  Shahid Sahib described the article as a biggest violation of human rights. He said it has killed grammar so mercilessly that it deserved to be hung on the wall and shot at.

Shahid Sahib had great faith in his reporters. He would describe them as backbone of a news organisation. “It is the reporters who run the paper. You should know it. If a reporter is not a repository of information, and if he doesn’t know what is going on in political circles, then there is no need to become a reporter. You should sell sausages somewhere,” he would say. And we couldn't help but agree with him.

In the newsroom he was harsh to reporters because he wanted perfection, but he would always defend his reporter. Once I filed a story about a scam in the Irrigation Department. The then Chief Engineer called Shahid Sahib throughout the day, saying the reporter has not taken his version.  I pleaded that I need not to as I had the document, the proof. Shahid Sahib insisted that I should show documents to him. And once he saw the documents, he called the Chief Engineer and gave him his piece of mind that would have taken peace from anyone’s mind.

When I heard about his illness, I called him. One by one he mentioned names of all those people, who were my colleagues and had worked under him. He said tell them to forgive him if he was harsh to them. “I was harsh at times Naseer.  I was harsh. Just convey them that they should forgive me,” he said.

I consoled him and said all will be well, that nothing will happen to him. And I did believe that nothing will happen to Shahid Sahib. That he will not die. Sometimes you feel that some people will not die. You feel some people should not die. Shahid Sahib was one among them. I was so sure about his recovery. But then death keeps no calendar.
Good bye Shahid Sahib. We have no complaints. We have only memories of the good times spent with you.