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Monday, July 4, 2016

Separatists use social media to counter curbs | The Asian Age

Separatists use social media to counter curbs | The Asian Age: A Kashmiri saying goes �As the fisherman casts a net the fish discover how to jump over it�. ...

'Hanzan wahroav zaal, gadav heche wott'a'

A Kashmiri saying goes ‘As the fisherman casts a net the fish discover how to jump over it’. Ostensibly taking cue from it, key Kashmiri separatist leaders, who often face official curbs such as transitory or drawn out house arrests or incarceration in police stations and other detention centres depending on urgency of situation on the ground, take to the Internet to reach out the people with their messages. Facebook and Twitter.com are largely used by them to spread their word.       

Mufti Muhammad Sayeed flaunted one-liners like, “Democracy is battle of ideas”, and “bandook se na goli se, baat bane gi boli se” (Neither through the gun nor the bullet, the matter will have to be resolved through dialogue) and promised Kashmiri separatists a political space to vent their spleen. His daughter Mehbooba Mufti pledged to carry the legacy forward when she stepped in his shoes and became the first woman chief minister of restive Himalayan state earlier this year.

But soon deviating from its ‘Democracy is battle of ideas’ promise, the PDP-BJP government began a crackdown on select key separatists leaders including Muhammad Yasin Malik and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Omar Abdullah, a former Chief Minister and leader of opposition National Conference (NC), accused Ms. Mufti of personally and directly supervising the selective crackdown on separatist. “The same Mehbooba Mufti who advocated political engagement and dialogue with Hurriyat leaders is now supervising a selective crackdown on those separatist leaders who are more open and stinging in their criticism of her policies and U-turns,” he alleged. He also said, “It was PDP that assured the separatists a ‘Battle of
Ideas’ where they would be free to advocate their views in a democratic and free manner. Today she has gone from that self-righteous moral pedestal to the role of personally directing arrests and using almost three decade old cases to send separatist leaders to jail”.

While in confinement, these leaders or their aides on their behalf take to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.com to counter act the official curbs and reach out to the people and deliver messages. 

They also use the Internet to send their statements and other petitions to the world leaders like the US President, Barack Obama, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) and various human rights groups and, both at home and abroad, prominent political parties and, of course, journalists and media organisations.

As the government tightened restrictions on the Mirwaiz, Kashmir’s chief Muslim cleric and chairman of his faction of separatist Hurriyat Conference alliance earlier this month, he took to micro-blogging site Twitter.com to complain “Barred again by "champions of democracy" from offering Friday prayers. Force, intimidation and coercion policy of the state”. In another tweet, he announced “Govt can’t scuttle our voice by arrests & detentions. Hurriyat will continue to oppose anti Kashmir policies & designs.” While
under house arrest at his Srinagar residence, the Mirwaiz in yet another tweet asked people to reach the City’s historic Grand Mosque for holding protests. He said, “Not allowed to offer Friday prayers at Jama Masjid today. Detentions, house arrests won't frighten us...protests at Jama Masjid today”. Yet another tweet from him said, “After caging all the pro- freedom leadership in the name of ‘peace’, PDP-BJP govt of Mehbooba Mufti now trying to gag media as well. What a shame!

The Mirwaiz who is among Kashmir’s new generation of Internet savvy politicians who have taken their political struggle to cyberspace uses Twitter.com to draw the world’s attention towards what he alleges is the “serious” human rights situation in the  State and to reiterate the demand of self-determination for its people. Reads one of his recent tweets, “Reject BJP @nsitharaman statement "Kashmiris not a party". Even if India-Pakistan reach
agreement-won't be acceptable to us unless Kashmiris are on board.”

Yasin Malik is also on Twitter.com but he usually uses Facebook to deliver his messages. Mr. Malik, who is the chairman of pro-independence Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), has faced frequent detentions by police in past couple of months amid his pro-active efforts to strike ‘issue-based unity’ in the separatist camp. Last week, he was taken into custody by police while on way to the residence of senior separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani who himself is under house arrest for past several months. He was subsequently sent to Srinagar Central Jail but the JKLF was quick to place his message on Facebook, “Now the shamelessness of so-called rulers has touched a new low as they have chosen to ban even personal meeting between two people. By imposing ban on mutual meetings, so-called saffronised rulers have expressed their animosity against democratic and civilized behaviours,” the message read.

He also said that the move to prevent him from meeting the 
octogenarian leader “proves it beyond any doubt how much the rulers and other authorities fear the unity among resistance leaders”. Mr. Malik announced “these oppressive measures can’t deter us from pursuing the path of truth and freedom and history bears witness to the fact that tolerating these atrocities and bans has been our way of life from past many years.”
Several other separatist leaders like Islamic Students League chief Shakeel Bakshi also spend hours in blogging, responding to online users and updating their Facebook pages or tweet. They maintain the Internet has been an effective tool in both updating Kashmiris home and abroad about the situation in the State and spreading their word especially when under house arrest or facing other official curbs.
Some of the separatist parties have their own Facebook pages and websites which are updated regularly. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Pandit Jia Lal Chowdhury (Jee Chowdhury)ry)

One of the greatest and illustrious sons of the soil who lived graciously

Good to see a piece on Pandit Jia Lal Chowdhury, a leading advocate of his time, in today's 'Kashmiri Uzma'. 

Written by our friend and colleague Zahir Din , the latest in his 'Gumshoda Sitare' series, in the end, says it is not known how and where Jia Lalji spent the last days of his life nor is it clear when and where did he pass away.
Just to say, Jia Lalji was our neighbour at Raze Kadal (Sokalipora). The Chowdhuries had a couple of huge houses on a vast piece of land on the western bank of Nallah Maar, just in front of the Mirwaiz Manzil. A part of the land known as 'Ba'ta Bagh' had virtually been abandoned by the Chowdhuries and we used to play there. We lived in a modest dwelling just across Nallah Maar at the tail end of Saifuddin Pora (western side) and facing ‘Ba’ta Bagh’ and Moulvi Masjid.

Jia Lalji was the father of renowned physician Dr. K.L. Chowdhury who lives in Roop Nagar area of Jammu for the past over two and a half decades. The eldest among the six siblings is Chaman Lal Chowdhury who graduated from London in mid 1960s and worked as a Civil and Environmental Engineer in the UK where he lives presently. The next eldest is Robinder (Robin) Chowdhury, who was in his childhood known to neighbours and friends as Bushan. He lives in Australia where he had been an academic for more than 30 years and is now an Emeritus Professor. Dr. Kundan Chowdhury is third in line and next is a daughter- Dr. Vijay Chowdhury, a specialist (obstetrics) who served for many years as a specialist (obstetrics) in Srinagar including as Medical College staff now lives in DelhiYoungest son Dr. Surrinder Chowdhury, who graduated from REC ,Srinagar, and did his PhD in electronics in Liverpool, lives and works in Silicon Valley, California, and youngest daughter  Dr. Usha Chowdhury (Kaul), a graduate of Srinagar Government Medical College, has been  for many years a paediatrician working in Buffalo, New York State.
One of the Senior Chowdhury's cousins was Shamboo Nath Chowdhury who was a clerk in judicial department and presently lives in Gurgaon. All the Chowdhuries had shifted from Raze Kadal to various areas of Srinagar in 1960s and 1970s. The sole Pandit family headed by one Raj Nath, an agent of Jia Lalji, and which lived in one of the houses within the premises and stayed put even after the outbreak of insurgency, also left Raze Kadal and subsequently migrated out of the Valley in 1990s. Even Raj Nath's family would be known to many people as 'Chowdhuries' because of their close proximity to Jia Lalji.
Jia Lalji had shifted to S.P.College Lane (Barbar Shah) from Raze Kadal in 1963. He practiced law at the J&K High Court until about four months of his death in 1989 at the age of 76. He was suffering from bronchogenic carcinomas (lung cancer) and was taken to the USA for advanced treatment but to no avail. After returning home and a couple of months before the end came, he visited the court premises to bid goodbye to his former colleagues-lawyers, judges, judicial officers, petition-writers, etc. Among his agents was Gulla Gurkoo, often referred to as Gulla Choudhary- of Budhgeer, Ali Kadal. After Jia Lalji’s demise, among those who visited his Srinagar house to offer condolences was Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq. This happened few months before the Mirwaiz fell to the bullets of the assassins at his Nigeen residence on May 21, 1990.
Jia Lalji’s illustrious son Dr. Kundan Lal Chowdhury and the most well known among his offspring back home is a medical graduate (M.B.B.S.) from Punjab University and postgraduate (MD) from Delhi University. He did fellowship in Neurology from London. He started his career as a faculty member in Government Medical College, Srinagar, as a clinician, teacher and researcher, rose to become a Professor, and pioneered in Neurology as a subspecialty in the Medical College.
Following shifting to Jammu in 1990, he started a charitable hospital, the Shriya Bhat Mission Hospital and Research Center, which provides free multi-specialty consultation and treatment to the poor and indigent patients and conducts medical camps, surveys and research. He is engaged in multifarious activities as a medical professional, social activist, journalist, poet and writer, essayist and reviewer and is author of several books

A portion of the Chowdhuries’ property at Sokali Pora, Raze Kadal is now owned by a Muslim trader of Srinagar and the remaining part of it was acquired by the government for road-widening a couple of decades ago.

P.S.: Why should the performance and other activities of Jia Lalji’s offspring be of any interest in a piece on him? Just to say, a person will prosper or ruin due to his/her own deeds. He/she has to select what he/she wants. If you are good and helpful to the people particularly to the needy it is not just your good nature which everyone immediately thinks of when they speak of you- that even after you have gone- but your children can also benefit from your deeds. As we say in Kashmir, your next seven generations will reap fruits from the prayers the beneficiaries of your good actions and demeanour may have made for you. Equally important is; good parenting and positive interventions in early childhood can work best as it evidently did in the case of Jia Lalji’s family. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

'Zero Bridge' adds to Srinagar's charm


Now, �footie' is �her' green valley | The Asian Age

Now, �footie' is �her' green valley | The Asian Age: On a late peak summer afternoon in 2007, Nadiya Nighat walked into the sprawling lawns of ...