Thursday, January 19, 2012

Story about my work in Financial Chronicle, the financial daily of Decan Chronicle and International Herald Tribune (Global Edition of New York Times ) dated 19th of January 2012

Book Review of Unsung Innovators of Kashmir in Daily Aftab

Article in Greater Kashmir dated 19th of January 2010

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

William Moorcroft : A Pirate or a Doyen of the Kashmiri Shawl.

William Moorcroft, born in Ormskirk , Lancashire in 1767, by profession a veterinary surgeon , was in India as a military stud with the East India Company. Belived to the first western traveller to reach Ladakh during the 19th century. Moorcrooft is credited as the first person from the west to study and document various nuances of the Shawl weaving techniques in Kashmir. And is eulogised as the first western to introduce the importance of pashmina fleece to the world. Moorcroft, actually went to Bengal in 1808. His expedition to Ladakh according to Prem Singh Jina the author of Famous Western Explorers to Ladakh started in 1812 and he remained there till 1825. Jina (1995) argues that Moorcroft traveled extensively throughout the Himalayas, Tibet and Central Asia to meet his twin objectives. First to obtain and study the Pashmina wool and second, to survey sacred Hindu lakes. In 1842, all the papers of Moorcroft were obtained by the Asiatic Society and were edited by H. H. Wilson with the title Travels in the Himalayan Provinces of Hindustan and the Punjab, in Ladakh and Kashmir, in Peshawur, Kabul, Kunduz and Bokhara, from 1819 to 1825 in two volumes.
It was on 3rd November 1822 when Moorcroft reached Kashmir. During his stay in Kashmir, he visited many areas both southern and northern parts. He not only studied the shawls of Kashmir but even visited Sogam, Kupwara to collect the 'Deodar seeds'. After studying Kashmir ; it's people and the art, Moorcrooft in his travelogue, Travels in the Himalayan Provinces of Hindustan and the Punjab, in Ladakh and Kashmir, in Peshawur, Kabul, Kunduz and Bokhara, from 1819 to 1825 has described the people of Kashmir as selfish, ignorant , dishonest and fraud. “In character the Kashmirian is selfish, superstitious, ignorant, supple, intriguing, dishonest and false; he has great ingenuity as a mechanic, and a decided genius for manufactures and commerce, but his transactions are always conducted in a fraudulent spirit (p.128)”. This understanding of Moorcroft about the people of Kashmir motivated me to deconstruct his claim, i tried to understand some basic facts. Facts about the big fraud, facts about a pirate, facts about a fraudulent spirit. And what i found is that William Moorcroft himself was a big fraud, a fraudulent spirit was in him and also was a dishonest traveler. He was a pirate, a cheater, who destroyed the shawl industry in Kashmir. He illegally shared all the technicalities, designs, and other information related to the Shawl weaving to his close relatives in the west. H. H. Wilson the editor of Moorcraft's travelogue substantiates this fact. “The creation of the manufacturer of British Shawls is no doubt to be ascribed, in a great degree, if not solely , to Mr. Moorcroft. From the period of his first journey to the Hiundes he was at great pains in sending home the shawl-wool, and in his present journey he sent to England patterns of shawls, and information regarding their manufacture , which , though addressed mostly to his private friends, found their way silently to persons engaged in similar manufactures, and enabled them to imitate successfully the shawls of Kashmir (p.165)”. Moorcroft according to Caroline Karpinski (1963) became, in fact ,obsessed with the shawl industry and was so engrossed in it that he tried to naturalize the pashmina goat in England. “Unable to import the wool because of a Kashmiri monopoly, they tried to naturalize the goat, and Moorcroft focused on the problem his professional attention. His herd of goats embarked for England, the males on one ship, the females on another, a scheme that proved a blunder, for the ship carrying the females was wrecked with no survivors (p. 116)”. Moorcroft according to many authors sent as many as 40 drawings related to different designs and formulas of the Kashmiri shawl to England. In his zeal to make the western shawls supreme, in order to expand the business of western shawls, Moorcroft campaigned to promote the emigration of the whole families of the artisans who were directly or indirectly linked with the shawl business from Kashmir to Norwich and Paisley.
One can thus safely argue that Moorcroft was a pirate, who violated the intellectual property of the local artisans. The local artisans of Kashmir much before the modern Patent system, are credited to have developed a brilliant method of protecting their intellect. This method of protecting their creative potential is known as 'Taleem'. And Moorcroft was the first person to demystify this code system thus violated our intellectual property. The irony is that after destroying the Kashmiri shawl industry, after committing such a  big fraud, Moorcroft still described us as a 'dishonest lot'. What an approach of studying people.....indeed 'western'. No doubt, many people have wrote in detail about Kashmiri Shawls, like Dr. Ab Ahad, Frank Ames, Monisha Ahmed, Parvaiz Nemati, Rosie Thomas, Sherry Rehman and Janet Rizvi but no one has so far highlighted the invisible hands who  have destroyed our past.

Sheikh Fayaz Ahmad
Halmatpora Kupwara.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

KUNAN POSH PORA MASS RAPE

       Kunan Poshpora Mass Rape by Army

Every heart cried and every eye shed tears in the intervening night of the 23rd and 24th February 1991, when the young and energetic, but inhumane, Indian troops of the 04 Raj Raffles of 68 Brigade C/o 56 APO launched a search operation in the village of Kunan Poshpora, just 5kms from the main township Kupwara, and toed all humanitarian principals with the raping of as many as thirty women, including teenage girls and a near 100 year old frail grandmother. 

The troops firstly cornered all the men not allowing any of them to enter the houses, and whilst a group of them interrogated and adopted cruel measures to torture the men, others went ahead and mercilessly raped the women for hours together, irrespective of their age, irrespective of them being married or unmarried, or even pregnant, and they continued to do so until 9 O’clock the next day. The incident sent shock waves across villages, however, the helpless people could only cry and cry. Those who dared to resist were beaten ruthlessly by the troops of Raj Raffles. The heart rendering incident had a prolonged impact on the lives of women who became victims of the troopers’ aggression. Almost all the victims suffered psychosomatic disorders and at least two pregnant women (victims) were ultimately divorced by their husbands. From here onwards, the victims were subjected to official apathy, while the police registered a case vide FIR (First Incident Report) No R-1/1387/88 under RPC 376-452-342 dated 07-03-1991 at the Trehgam police station. However call it an irony that no legal action was actually initiated against the erring troopers involved in the heinous act. Keeping abreast with the past record of human rights violations during the 17 years of turmoil, the NGO’s and other organizations, including the APHC (All parties Hurriyat Conference), which claim to be safeguarding the interests of the victims of violence, did not extend any moral or financial help to the victims, only paying a visit to the village to ‘show face’. Instead a local teacher, Ghulam Hassan Dar of Kunan Poshpora, gave away a shameful Rs.50 to each victim. And it still remains a mystery whether the teacher donated this money from his own pocket or from any other source. The victims narrated the woeful tales recalling the traumatic experiences after sixteen long years. “At 11pm, I as usual was busy offering special prayers (naffil) and, at least four troopers broke down the window and entered into the room in candle light. As my son, who is serving in the Police Department, was rendering his duties in Uri, Baramulla, I was all alone. The troopers tore my cloths as I cried, but all in vain. They raped me one by one for hours. I could only cry but they put cloth into my mouth to cease my cries. After hours of trauma, I became unconscious.”, recalled Lass Ded who was 70 years old at that time. Her son, after learning about his aging mother’s ordeal, turned mad and even today has not recovered fully requiring medicines on a regular basis. Lass Ded was the first women to become the victim of the troopers’ aggression, and 16 years later, though the ill fated women regrets that nobody whole heartedly came forward to help the victims, she only demands punishment to the erring cops and nothing else. Lass Ded is one among many victims who in addition of having undergone the physical and psychological trauma of the heinous act inflicted upon her, have also suffered the social stigma of being raped in this conservative society. Lass Ded added that this heart rendering episode has held them back in their own houses and hearths, as they that punishing the erring cops would further damage their character in public. Lass Ded agrees that she had received a compensation of the mere Rs.50 from the teacher, but feels dejected in recalling this. While the inhuman and widely condemned event in Kunan Poshpora exposed the tormented women on a very sad note, the victims continue to carry a social stigma after such a long period of time. They still feel shy and ashamed of living a life in their village, but what haunts them the most is the fact that the erring cops are still roaming scot-free and no action has been taken against them. “It has been more than 17 years that the troopers have tarnished our chastity in open and no punishment has been accorded to the guilty. It amounts to encouraging crime. Those who committed this heinous crime are roaming scot-free. The government claims to have a check on gross human rights violations but the cops who committed this heinous crime in open where not taken to task.”, said Naseema Bano, d/o Ghulam Mohammad Dar, who was twenty two years old at the time of the incident.Although more than a decade has past by, the victims of the troopers’ aggression are still lost deep into the bitter memories of the traumatic experiences that they underwent on the night of 23rd February. The village still presents a grim picture of the said event which not only sent shock waves across entire border district, but also drew wide criticism from one and all in the Kashmir valley. The lives of victims became more miserable owing to the fact that the government and all other organizations almost failed to deliver goods on account of getting the guilty cops punished, not to speak of extending compensation to the victims.The trauma does not end here, the heart rendering incident had a telling impact on the women folk in the village, few women wishing anonymity say that they still receive unruly comments while visiting other villages as Kunan Poshpora came to the limelight after the mass rape event. “It is highly unfortunate that victims apart, even village girls have to listen to unhealthy comments with regard to the mass rape incident. Every mature girl wants to get married-off happily and to her best satisfaction, but believe us, scores of our girls’ proposals were turned down after the boys parents came to know about the mass rape incident.”, a young women pursuing her graduation said.The victims who bore the burnt of the unruly troopers in this remote village include;
The magnitude of the crime committed by the Indian Army could be well assessed by the fact that even Jaan Ded, now 110 years old was not spared. The old frail-bodied lady has been rendered dumb after this shocking incident. The locals say that after 36 hours of the episode, the women lost her voice to dejection as she could not bear the shock of this inhuman act.During the past 17 years of turmoil the gross human rights violations in Kashmir Valley went on spiraling as the paramilitary forces, interested with the job of fighting counter insurgency, indulged in letting loose their aggression upon the beleaguered Kashmiris caught between two guns. In the frontier district of Kupwara, the Kunan Poshpora mass rape incident is believed to be the most gross human rights violation during the ever growing phase of violence and blood shed. As the years have passed by, the human rights violation cases in Kashmir valley have increased drawing the attention and criticisms of people, however, unfortunately, it seems the government has never been serious enough in punishing the guilty and putting a check on atrocities. 
Sheikh Fayaz Ahmad
Kupwara 2007

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Think beyond obvious

This is in response to the article “Think beyond obvious: Will this bloodshed ever end? by Amit Kushari dated 12th of September 2011. The writer has tried to connect Delhi blasts with the unrest in Kashmir and North Eastern states. I am in agreement with a few arguments made by the retired IAS Officer in his write up. First, Indian state has crushed the people in Manipur, Nagaland and Kashmir, and they have been doing so for a long time with many acts giving Indian troops immunity to any kind of prosecution. Second, India needs to resolve Kashmir and Northeastern issues. True, Indian has to resolve the Kashmir Imbroglio, for its own survival and existence. But, the political argument made by the writer that these blasts are linked to Kashmir and North East is not correct. If this is the case, then what about Lokesh Sharma and Devender Gupta, both activists of RSS and BJP accused of carrying terrorists’ acts in Mecca Masjid? what about the Samjhauta Express train blast accused Swami Aseemanand the main and senior RSS activist and now in the Jail? There are many evidences and police FIR’s which clearly indict the Hindu terror outfits for these heinous terrorist acts. So to find a Kashmir connection with Delhi blasts is totally nonsense. India instead of going to Kashtawar, in Jammu region and arresting school going children on the charges of carrying out Delhi blasts should reopen the Aseemanand file. They will definitely find more concrete answers and evidences which will help India to avert more such tragedies in the future.


S. Fayaz Ahmad

Halmatpora, Kupwara

fayazjustinternational@gmail.com

Interlocutors Report

This is in response to the news report titled ‘Solution within Constitution: Interlocutors ‘Governance Can’t Substitute Political Settlement’ in Greater Kashmir dated 22nd of September 2011. It is indeed a good move that finally the interlocutors are going to submit their findings to the Government of India. Dileep Padgaonkar, one of the three interlocutors while briefing the press said that the agenda is to seek a permanent political settlement of Kashmir within the framework of Indian Constitution. One may like to suggest a few points to the interlocutors before they submit their report. First, before submitting the report they should deliberate on ‘Treaty of Amritsar’ signed on March 16, 1846, when British illegally sold Kashmir to the Maharaja Gulab Singh. This treaty was not only immoral but it also makes any accession with India technically illegal and illogical. Second, interlocutors should also reflect Article 152 of 1956 Amended Constitution which defines Indian States and specifies that the expression “state” does not include the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The report should also highlight all the UN Security Council Resolutions passed on Kashmir and particularly the UNCIP Resolution adopted on January 5, 1949, which talks of “democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite in Kashmir”. We hope the three member interlocutors team will debate all the pledges made by Nehru to the world community and to the people of the Kashmir. We hope they will reflect the speech of Nehru which he made on All India Radio on November 2, 1947 in which he reaffirmed the “Indian Government’s commitment to the right of the Kashmiri people through plebiscite to determine their own destiny”. We hope interlocutors will not forget to discuss the 1951, July 6 speech of Nehru in which he said “people seem to forget that Kashmir is not a commodity for sale or to be bartered. It has an individual existence and its people must be the final arbiters of their future”. If the interlocutors will debate on these lines then one can expect sense out of the report. Otherwise debating unemployment, infrastructure, tourism and Kashmiryat in the findings will be nonsensical activity . But before I will conclude let's again remind the interlocutors the speech of Nehru that “Kashmir is not a commodity for sale and you can’t barter it”. Yes dear interlocutors, any readymade solution within or out of the ambit of Indian Constitution will not be accepted to the people of Kashmir. We also request you to please stop branding ‘Kashmir issue’ an economic problem or a cultural tension. It is actually the issue of a nation, which had its history. We hope the interlocutors will not submit a bureaucratic and politically biased report. After all this is the question of the credibility of the world's largest democracy.


S. Fayaz Ahmad

Halmatpora, Kupwara

fayazjustinternational@gmail.com

New Recruitment Policy in Kashmir

This is in response to the news item “Govt notifies modalities under new recruitment rules SSB asked to re-advertise posts” dated 28th Nov. 2010. These new modalities are dubious, destructive and of course discouraging and preposterous. It will not be wrong to call it a ‘new form of state terrorism'. Indeed it is a new experiment to exploit and to subjugate the talent of the valley. This strategy is yet another farce game with the people of Kashmir who are yet to get healed of the faulty socio-economic policies adapted by our state. Had the government been serious enough to tackle the problem of unemployment, it would never have devised such a meritocratic and divisive policy. The policy is utterly undemocratic and ‘exclusive’ as in the first place it distances the common man of Kashmir from the basic right to live with dignity and honor.

With these new modalities the so called “civilian” government is trying to encourage more corruption in the valley as these modalities are housing the seeds that will bloom an already bloomed corruption in Kashmir. Look at the corruption rate in Jammu and Kashmir. We are already top in South Asia, and I am sure with this new salary modality, we will top the world. What the heck this new decision of the government is? How can they, the 'bureaucrats' and 'politicians' expect a teacher, and a health worker to live on such a meager salary of Rs. 4000 for five years? This decision of the government needs to be condemned and all those who have formulated such a drab policy deserve to be castigated. It is these bureaucrats and politicians who by expropriating the state's resources have created a financial famine in the state, have created a situation where they can easily exploit the future generations. If these 'graduate bureaucrats', and ' ignoramus politicians' are so concerned about Kashmir, let they start charity from their homes. Let they stop taking bribe, let they settle on less salary, let they spent less on fuel, office maintenance, security, and what not. It is certainly the fallout of the bad governance that our State is in the mess, financial condition is worse, local industries are dying, water bodies decaying, natural resources depleting, forests are deforested and resources are destroyed. And now with this faulty employment policy they want to attack on the 'human resource', the last hope of the state. Very unfortunate! This decision reflects how corruption, dictatorship and bad governance is the hallmark of our state. Shall we call it a new form of state terror, or the ' failure of the state' or the reflection of the drab state policies. This new policy actually is inherently ‘exclusive’ in nature as it tends to keep out those who live at the bottom of the economic pyramid. It will be wrong to say that this policy will overhaul the unemployment mess in Kashmir; rather it will worsen the current situation. This new salary policy will hit hard the common man and the economy. He will have no alternatives, no choices, and no satisfaction. He will be determined by the state to live in a miserable condition and die as such. He will be financially jeopardized, he will be craving…The demand curve will come down, the economy and the local market will face a new threat. A new disaster is inevitable.
So come and protest this new form of state terror.
Sheikh Fayaz Ahmad , Muzaffar Ali are Research Scholars at the School of Social Sciences, JNU, New Delhi and can be reached at fayazjustinternational@gmail.com

AFSPA and Indian-ness

AFSPA AND INDIAN-NESS

This is in reaction to an article 'Save us from squinted views : AFSPA Revocation is to be seen from all possible perspectives' by Binoo Joshi dated 25th Oct 2011. The writer has very cleverly tried to justify AFSPA in the valley albeit he has raised few questions in his well drafted conceit. AFSPA, the worst draconian law which gives Army officers legal immunity for raping, killing ,and humiliating anyone irrespective of sex, creed and cast also empowers Army to intervene in the civilian affairs of the government. AFSPA, according to Joshi is to fight counter-insurgency so to bring law and order in a so called “disturbed” area. But let me correct the writer, that AFSPA is not to fight counter insurgency but is a violence to institute “Indian-ness” or the legitimacy of “Indian State” in specific areas and their inhabitants wherein the “Indian-ness” is a problem. Why AFSPA is not imposed in the disturbed areas of Central India where according to Indian Home Minister 'the most violent movement worst than terrorism or insurgency is going on' ? The reason is simple, the people there are compatible with the “Indian-ness' and the people of the valley are not. Second, revocation of AFSPA technically means a transition in the political space from so called "disturbed" area to "peaceful" area. So if AFSPA is revoked from valley then with AFSPA, Army too has to leave, which i see is very difficult for New Delhi to do. That is the reason New Delhi defense heads rushed to valley to calm down CM Omar, who a few days back said that AFSPA will be revoked from few places in Kashmir. Anyways let's see who is more powerful in Kashmir, the government which claims to represent the aspirations of the people or the Army.

S. Fayaz Ahmad

Halmatpora, Kupwara
fayazjustinternational@gmail.com

Book Review in Greater Kashmir