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TSEWANG RIGZIN

Too young to be addicts in Leh

CURRENT AFFAIRS Needed Ethnic VCs for J&K’s Universities ? (Please don’t ask teacher his caste)

P50-56

D SUBA CHANDRAN

Integrating Rajouri, Poonch with Mainstream P14

P44

Epilogue J & K ’ S M O N T H LY M A G A Z I N E

C U R R E N T

A F F A I R S ,

S O C I A L

S C I E N C E S

RAJOURI-POONCH : A SCHOLARLY INSIGHT

the MICROCOSM of PIR PANCHAL Mughal Road :The Charm of Rajouri, Poonch Social Structure and Perceptions of Regional Disparities Pir Panchal Regional Festival

Facing the Challenges Ahead

Who Patronises Caste Politics in Rajouri, Poonch Biodiversity, High Altitude Wetlands

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nsible jo se

m nalis ur

Jammu, May 1 ,2010 / Vol 4 / Issue 5 | Price Rs. 30 | Postal Regd. No. JK-350/2009 | www.epilogue.in

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ISSN : 0974-5653

41th f o issue e sens

We tend to turn to the western periodicals. And, whatever is said by our people, enterprising youthful minds, with fresh ideas, is seen something without merit. Epilogue has changed that. It has generated awareness among the people that there was something more in it- both inside for the residents to see and analyze and for outside world to view it differently. ARUN JOSHI Deputy Editor, Hindustan Times

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Epilogue because there is more to know

CONTENT

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Editor Zafar Iqbal Choudhary Publisher Yogesh Pandoh Consulting Editors D. Suba Chandran Manu Srivatsa

Contributors to this Issue Letters Prologue

2 3 5

Column Dateline : India-Pakistan The nitty-gritty details of my dream

6

Manisha Shobarjani

Strengthen RTI to Right the Wrongs

41

M Shamsur Rabb Khan

Associate Editors Irm Amin Baig Tsewang Rigzin Zorawar Singh Jamwal

Current Affairs Needed Ethnic VCs for J&K’s Universities Volume 4, Issue 5, May 2010

General Manager Kartavya Pandoh Art Editor Keshav Sharma Research Officer Raman Sharma Phones & email Office : +91 191 2493136 Editorial: +91 94191 80762 Administration: +91 94191 82518 subscriptions : +91 90188 87136 editor@epilogue.in subscription@epilogue.in Printed and Published by Yogesh Pandoh for Epilogue NewsCraft from Ibadat House, Madrasa Lane, Near Graveyard, Bathindi Top, Jammu, J&K - 180012 and Printed at : DEE DEE Reprographix, 3 Aikta Ashram, New Rehari Jammu (J&K)

Epilogue Correspondent

Please don’t ask teacher his caste

12

Anmol Sharma

I N FOCUS The Microcosm of Pir Panchal 14

What Patronises Caste Politics in Rajouri, Poonch Zafar Choudhary

17

Rajouri & Poonch : Facing the Challenges Ahead K D Maini

21

29

Social Structure and Perceptions of Regional Disparities Pir Panchal Regional Festival Integrating Rajouri & Poonch with the mainstream D Suba Chandran

36

Exclusive Stories Henry Scott The Forgotten Soldier of Kashmir

Mughal Road : The Charm of Rajouri, Poonch

44

Rakesh Ankit

Ladakh Affairs Vicious Cycle to Virtuous Cycle : 50 Ladakh’s Tryst with Education Reform Thinlas Dorjay

Too young to be addicts

Mazammal Hussain Malik

51

Tsewang Rigzin

Can Ladakhi students study in Ladakh? 52 Lobzang Stanzan

Don’t Neglect It; Ladakh too is in India

54

Stanzin Khewang

Bankers told to reach the masses Jora remote Durbuk block of Changthang Leh-Sringar highway reopens

55 56 56

Pia Malhotra

39

Disputes, if any, subject to jurisdiction of courts and competitive tribunals in Jammu only.

9

Biodiversity, High Altitude Wetlands Pankaj Chandan

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CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ISSUE

Ankit, Rakesh; (Forgotten History p44) is a young historian from Bihar. As a Rhodes Scholar recently he studied various missing links in the making of Kashmir conflict. Based on his first hand study, he is contributing exclusive series to Epilogue

Maini, KD; (In Focus, P17) is a peace activist and acclaimed writer on the history and culture of Poonch. Author of many books, he has published his work in many leading newspapers. Based in Poonch, he also edits a journal called 'Peace'.

Chandan, Pankaj; (In Focus, P39) is a wildlife and environment researcher currently looking after WWF-India's wetland projects

Malhotra, Pia; (In Focus, P36) is with Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi.

Chandran, D Suba; (In Focus, p29) is Deputy Director at Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. Author of many books and an acclaimed expert on Kashmir and Indo-Pak relations, he is Consulting Editor of Epilogue Magazine Choudhary, Zafar; (In Focus, p14) is Editor of Epilogue Magazine and also Executive Editor of Early Times, Daily Newspaper from Jammu Khan, M Samur Rabb; (Opinion p41) is Editor with Indian Institute of Dalit Affairs

2

Malik, Mazammal Hussain; (In Focus, P21) teaches Sociology at a Government College in Jammu and Kashmir Sharma, Anmol; (Current Affairs, P12) a regular writer at Epilogue, he is a practicing lawyer at Jammu and Kashmir High Court Sobhrajani, Manisha (Features, P6), is a Delhi based independent researcher working on the various aspects of Kashmir conflict. She divides her time between Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir

Readers' requests for getting in touch with the authors, for feedback, comments and further discussions on their subjects of interest, are welcome. Since all authors/contributors are not interested in taking mails directly, the readers are requested to send us interview requests at editor@epilogue.in for passing on to the authors

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Vol. 4, Issue 5

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Letters

Readers Write Ankit Doing Great Job

T

he years of 1947-48 is the most misunderstood period in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. Who did what and who had actually wanted has all been hearsay over the years. In absence of any authentic documents, our political class has been choosing the convenience of attributing statements and actions to different actors of that time. For example, the National Conference leaders while in Kashmir or specifically in opposition charge the Maharaja Hari Singh of acceding to India without taking into account popular wishes of the majority. When they are in power or addressing a constituency in Jammu or making a larger statement to India they credit Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah for making Jammu and Kashmir a part of India. In the latter case, the National Conference enlarges the debate to drive home a point that Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah emerged as the most important Muslim leader of the subcontinent to defeated Mohammad Ali Jinnah's two nation theory. Rakesh Ankit in Pandit Ramchandra Kak: The Forgotten Premier of Kashmir (Epilogue, April 2010) seem to have brought to public knowledge few facts for the first time. Though the present essay does not deal fully with all aspects of accession but your exclusive series with Rakesh Ankit on 'New Research on Kashmir' is certainly a new well researched and much needed addition to the public knowledge on history of Kashmir. We hope that this series continues for long and unfolds many unknown aspects of those crucial and decisive years. After all what is happening today in the region and in the larger question of India and Pakistan relations has its roots in the developments you are discussing in this series. AFTAB MIR Srinagar

Budget Simplified!

Don't Ignores Vital Issues

B

In recent two months, the politics remained unusually eventful in Jammu and Kashmir. Once again the Kashmir based arch rivals –the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party –were seen in consensus on issues which boil up sentiments in Jammu region. Not only was the consensus between these 'north pole-south pole', their stand was also supported by the separatist Hurryiat Conference. I am talking about the inter-district recruitment bill and permanent residents' disqualification bill. On such issues the media in Jammu and Kashmir divide on the regional lines, something which Epilogue never did. But we were surprised to see that there was no coverage of these issues at all. Editors should take note if such important issues are left ignored by journals like Epilogue, readers might not get to read a balanced story at all.

efore 2007 I had no idea of how state budget is formulated, what are key parameters, how money is earned and distributed and why a common man should at all be concerned about this technical thing. It was in 2007 when I first read Prof Nisar Ali's analysis of the budget in Epilogue and thought that it was perhaps written for a person like me who is keen but has no knowledge of state finances. Year after year your coverage of budget has gone finer. As I read the 'Road to Recovery' Epilogue (April 2010) I have all the details of state budget on my finger tips. There are no technical terms. Every aspect of the budget has been written in such a simplified manner as it makes a good reading for a beginner. I hope this trend is continued not only with budgets but also with all the subjects you deal with.

JAVED AHMED University of Kashmir

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RANJIT JAMWAL, ARSHAD HUSSAIN Jammu

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Letters Readers Write

Epilogue has given something to all of us to feel proud of

W ARUN JOSHI

orld begins somewhere. It begins from here- the land where we live. In this case, it is Jammu and Kashmir. That is, from where a voyage for strategic journalism began. Three years ago, Epilogue, hit stands, with many skeptical minds questioning the wisdom of talking in depth of the issues, for which the readers didn't have time to read. Still ruled by the colonial mindset, where there is a quest to look for what West is saying about our land, our people and our issues, whether it concerned our political voices, and economic development or otherwise, our farming community or water. We tend to turn to the western periodicals. And, whatever is said by our people, enterprising youthful minds, with fresh ideas, is seen something without merit. Epilogue has changed that. First thing first, it has generated an awareness among the people of this state, often described in terms of – “ a disputed territory”, “ nuclear flashpoint”, “ hotbed of militancy”, “ beautiful but bloodied,” that there was something more in it- both inside for the residents to see and analyze. And for outside world to view it differently. This magazine has done that. Undoubtedly, it is an achievement in itself. It has given something to all of us to feel proud of. It has infused a sense that it can be done. Its editor, Zafar Choudhary , has set a trend , in establishing a fact that the world view is not in the think tanks or journals based In Washington DC or London or Brussels. It is here too, and even without the help of borrowed magnifying glasses and thoughts from the west – J&K has its own intellectual capital. There is a need to see it. The pages of Epilogue offer a plenty of that. ARUN JOSHI Deputy Editor, Hindustan Times

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PROLOGUE

From the Editor

Inside the Mind of Pir Panchal ZAFAR CHOUDHARY

L

ooking at Jammu and Kashmir in bits and pieces divided on linguistic, ethnic, cultural and geographical lines will always keep the pot boiling. With little readjustment of emotional spaces the state will have to get into a working operation of single entity to reach a stage of stability where conflict can be seen as thing of past. However, achieving this homogeneity at the cost of suppressing many identities for one will always throw disastrous results. Instead of breeding hatred and contempt between identities we need to forge alliance between them for which there is imminent need of first understanding and then respecting each identity and its aspirations. In at least our four exclusively focused issues in past three years we have argued that Jammu and Kashmir is not ‘only Kashmir’ as it is seen in the approaches applied at national and international level towards understanding of this conflict riddled state. There are three historically, geographically and culturally well defined regions –Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Until recently, the overall reference to Kashmir would invite reaction from Jammu and Ladakh as people there wanted to be heard and known by their own identity. Last two decades, therefore, saw emergence of strong regional identity of Jammu and Ladakh as people wanted and to some extent got a seat at dialogue table, role in

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decision making process and share in resources. Deficits –of logics and also of perceptions –are still there and so are the movements at different levels. Emergence of these regional identities, instead of resolving any issue, has compounded the understanding with further emergence of sub regional identities from the margins. Kargil in Ladakh region, Chenab Valley –comprising districts of Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban –and Rajouri-Poonch sub-regions within Jammu region are the case in point. As it unfolds in the following pages, the twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch occupy a unique position in Jammu and Kashmir. Studded with the Line of Control along Pakistan administered Kashmir, these districts despite being Muslim majority refuse to be seen as part of a larger Kashmiri identity. On the other hand they find very little in aspirations and sentiments to share with the Jammu based urban politics which is mostly seen under the Hindu rightwing influence. While these two districts have maintained a fair distance from the core separatist politics despite the fact that nearly half of Muslim families there have a sibling in the Pakistan administered Kashmir, militancy too in this region could not take firm roots as it did in Kashmir Valley. In context of present political scenario, gradually, Rajouri and Poonch districts have established an identity of their own. The present issues looks into some aspects of this regional identity with a scholarly approach.

OCTOBER 2009

NOVEMBER 2007

Feedback : zafarchoudhary@epilogue.in MAY 2008

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COLUMN

Indo-Pak Dialogue

DATELINE: India-Pakistan The nitty-gritty details of my dream MANISHA SOBHRAJANI

It would be naive to assume that the transformation of the 'state of Jammu & Kashmir' into the 'Kashmir issue' happened once India was divided into India and Pakistan. The troubled history of the region dates back to a time much beyond the Partition. However, the 'love-hate triangle' of India, Pakistan and Kashmir was born the minute there was talk of Partition. Let us briefly go through the events since.

WULAR BARRAGE is a Kashmir Water Storage dispute (Under IWT) between India & Pakistan

SIR GREEK is a boundary issue between India & Pakistan along Indian State of Gujarat & Pakistani province of Sindh PM

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n The British, before making their exit from the Indian empire, divided it into 'Hindu' India and 'Muslim' Pakistan, a move which led to one of the most gruesome incidents of migration and partition in modern history in the year 1947. n In 1947/48, the two newly created nations go to war over Kashmir, ultimately leading to UN intervention. A ceasefire was regimented, resulting in the division of Jammu & Kashmir into Indian and Pakistan administered Kashmirs. Orders were issued to carry out a plebiscite to ascertain whether the people of Jammu and Kashmir wanted to be a part of India or Pakistan. The plebiscite, however, still remains elusive. n 1965 saw the second war over Kashmir, and the UN again had to call for ceasefire. n Pakistan and India went to war for a third time, resulting in the creation of Bangladesh, in 1971. n The Simla Agreement was signed in 1972 between Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. n In 1974, India ignites its first nuclear device. n Trouble starts brewing in 1989 with separatist revolt in Indian Kashmir. n India conducts nuclear tests in 1998, followed by Pakistan. n The Lahore summit takes place in 1999 between Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. n The 1999 Kargil war takes place. n The Agra Summit between Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee takes place in 2000, which does not result in any significant development.

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column Indo-Pak Dialogue

VAJPAYEE AND MUSHARRAF met in Agra on July 15, 2000. Talks failed but note without making a symbolic importance

CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT between India & Pakistan on Line of Control is a best kept Confidence Building Measure despite aberrations

n In 2001, the Indian Parliament is attacked by militants. India blames Pakistan-based Kashmiri separatist groups Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). A war-like situation prevails in both countries, and armies are mobilised on either side of the border. War is averted almost 6 months later, in 2002. n A ceasefire agreement takes place between India and Pakistan on the Line of Control in 2003, followed by a formal peace process in 2004. n In 2006, a series of seven bomb blasts take place over a period of 11 minutes on the Suburban Railways in Mumbai. n In 2007, bombs go off in two carriages of the Samjhauta Express -- a twice-weekly train service connecting Delhi and Lahore. n The Mumbai multiple terror attacks in 2008 again lead to a war-like situation between the two countries. n In 2009, Pakistan admits, after much pressure, that the Mumbai attacks were planned in Pakistan. Later in the year, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari meet on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit in Russia. India and Pakistan agree to work together to fight terrorism. However, Prime Minister Singh, after talks with Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani in Egypt, rules out a resumption of the 'composite dialogue'. n In 2010, the two countries exchange fire across the border, creating a tense atmosphere. Later, a bomb explodes in a bakery in Pune.

In the 'Conflict Transformation and Peace-building' arena, we are often asked to do a hypothetical exercise where we are encouraged to predict where two warring parties might stand, say, 20 years from their current position. The trick is to jump straightaway 20 years hence, and then take 20 steps backwards, in terms of trying to ascertain what the two parties might do every year to get to their ultimate goal (of where they might be 20 years later). Let us try to attempt this in the case of India and Pakistan. n 2030: The state of Jammu & Kashmir is one of the best prevailing tourism spots in South Asia, jointly managed by India and Pakistan—the LoC serving as some kind of a permanent demarcation between territories administered by the two countries. The people of the two territories have access to the entire region without the hassle of formal travel documents. n 2028: The two countries come to an agreement on Sir Creek. n 2026: Water issues between India and Pakistan are resolved to the satisfaction of both. n 2024: Wullar Barrage dam provides water energy not just to Indian-administered-Kashmir but also to Pakadministered-Kashmir.

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column Indo-Pak Dialogue

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PRIME MINISTERS Manmohan Singh and Yousaf Raza Gilani have been shaking hands at International forums but a one-to-one meeting is a long pending desire

GRAPHIX

n 2022: Siachen ceases to be the world's highest battleground. n 2020: Discussions around the actual issue of Kashmir lead to step-by-step solutions in terms of territories, both common and individual. n 2018: The Mughal road, by now fully functional, aids and sustains dialogue. n 2016: Intra-Kashmir bus services and trade routes are exemplary. n 2014: Both countries eliminate all formulas towards the resolution of the Kashmir issue not acceptable to each other. n 2012: India and Pakistan agree on terrorism and Kashmir as the two main areas of trepidation between them. n 2010: The two countries resume dialogue—whether c o m p o s i t e o r o t h e rwise—and take up every opportunity that comes their way to 'talk', whether at the Foreign Secretaries' level or Prime Minsters' level. India, on its part, forgoes any assumptions of being 'holier than thou', and Pakistan stops pretending the world can't see what it does! Kashmiris, on their part, accept the fact that their future is inter-related to the relationship between the two countries, and do whatever they can to aid dialogue. Wishful thinking? I am certain it is not! I implore leaders of all three parties—India, Pakistan and Kashmir—to come together and work out the nitty-gritty details of my dream.

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current Affairs

Education-Politics

Needed Ethnic VCs for J&K's Universities? EPILOGUE CORRESPONDENT

Identifying people by their religions, castes and places of births has always been a taboo at the Epilogue but this detail is being painfully compiled in context of recent debate as who should administer the Universities in Jammu and Kashmir.

I

n the urban areas of Jammu region the elitist debate is centered on the grouse that three important Universities in the region are being repeatedly put under the stewardship of non-locals –which means people not born in Jammu and this term also includes those belonging to the Kashmir Valley. Prof Varun Varun Sahni from Delhi is currently Vice Chancellor of the University of Jammu, Prof B Mishra is heading the local Agricultural University, Prof PNK Bamezai, a Kashmiri Pandit is new Vice Chancellor of Mata Vaishno Devi University. A former top Police Officer Masud Chaudhary, a Gujjar from Poonch, is the Vice Chancellor of Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University based at Rajouri but that region (Rajouri-Poonch), ironically, has rarely been part of any debate in Jammu. The immediate trigger in the case is the impending appointment of the Vice Chancellor of yet-to-come-up Central University of Jammu. A Central University, along with an IIM, was sanctioned by the UPA-I but it could not roll out in 2009 due the regional politics on location of University. Initial indications suggested that University was coming up in Kashmir after a Kashmiri academician, Prof Abdul Waheed Qureshi, was

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appointed as Vice Chancellor and he set up temporary office in Srinagar. Several Jammu based political parties and other organizations, actively backed by BJP, wanted Central University to be established in Jammu at any cost. Shutdowns, protests and demonstrations followed. Congress, a part of the ruling alliance in state and an ace com-

While in political circles the debate on appointment of Vice Chancellors veers around the domicile and ethnic considerations, in academic circles it goes much beyond that. Is Jammu and Kashmir a 'colony' of Jawaharlal Nehru University? This is the question dominating select academic circles. The present Vice Chancellors of four of the seven Universities have their academic backgrounds linked to the Jawaharlal Nehru University petitor of BJP in local political scene saw the ground slipping and put its weight behind the row. In summer 2009, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah led a cabinet delegation to the Prime Minister and surrendered the IIM for another Central University to be established in Jammu. A bad deal, indeed! In a regionally and ethnically polarized state, the decision was

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celebrated in Jammu as a great victory –second highest moment of glory after the 2008 Amarnath temple land row. Now when names are being screened for appointment of the Vice Chancellor for Central University of Jammu, there is a fresh round of anger and anxiety in the town as media speculations are zeroing in on Prof Amitabh Matoo of Jawaharlal Nehru University, a Kashmiri Pandit who headed the University of Jammu between 2002 and 2008. A section of press in Jammu is replete with opinionated columns on front pages strongly batting for a Dogra academician to head the Central University. No names have, however, been suggested for the post. While reputed academicians are critical of such demands as they fear trivialization and petty regionalization of the institutes of higher learning, this feature is not very unique to Jammu region. It was not long ago when a distinguished academician and administrator Prof Jalees Ahmed Khan Tareen was shooed away from the University of Kashmir for being non Kashmiri. Prof Tareen, now Vice Chancellor of Puducherry University, was sent packing at a time when the choice of his successor was not clear in mind. Between 2000 and 2004, a seniormost teacher at the campus Prof

Epilogue, May 2010


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current affairs Education-Politics

Abdul Waheed Qureshi funcA section of press in Jammu is replete tioned as 'acting' Vice with opinionated columns mostly on Chancellor at various occafront pages strongly batting for a Dogra sions before he was formally academician to head the Central designated as Vice University. No names have, however, Chancellor in 2004 and held been suggested for the post. While the Chair until 2008. Prof reputed academicians are critical of Riyaz Punjabi, another such demands as they fear trivialization native Kashmiri, succeeded and petty regionalization of the Qureshi who is now first Vice institutes of higher learning, such Chancellor of the Central demand is not unique to Jammu University of Kashmir. At seven Universities functioning in Jammu and Kashmir, Vice Chancellors of three are not from the state, two are headed by Kashmiri Muslims, one by a Kashmiri Pandit, one by a Gujjar Muslim and one by a Delhiite. Three of the seven Universities are relatively new. The two Agricultural Universities have mostly been dominated by non-local Vice Chancellors while the two main Universities –the University of Kashmir and University of Jammu –have had most of their Vice Chancellors local academicians except some initial years in University of Kashmir when distinguished people like KM Panicker and TM Advani topped the charts. Unfortunately, the obtaining academic and research environment of the Universities during tenures of different Vice Chancellors hardly becoming part of the debates dominated by 'who was born where and what language he spoke issue'. While in political circles the debate on appointment of Vice Chancellors veers around the domicile and ethnic considerations, in academic circles it goes much beyond that. Is Jammu and Kashmir a 'colony' of Jawaharlal Nehru University? This is the question dominating select academic circles. The present Vice Chancellors of four of the seven Universities have their academic backgrounds linked to the Jawaharlal Nehru University. Questions like JNU background or regional and ethnic identities are increasingly becoming parts of discussions as locals eye the top positions. One important issue which is not being questioned or answered in any of such debates is who many academicians or scholars the Universities in Jammu and Kashmir produced who made a mark at the national level. There are It was not long ago when a distinguished only few who can be counted academician and administrator Prof on fingers and most of them Jalees Ahmed Khan Tareen was shooed have already got the rewards away from the University of Kashmir for they deserved. What Jammu being non Kashmiri. Prof Tareen, now and Kashmir ideally needs is Vice Chancellor of Puducherry a discussion on why the local University, was sent packing at a time talent is not reaching the when the choice of his successor was national horizons of academic excellence. not clear in mind

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Vol. 4, Issue 5

Now Know UNIVERSITY OF KASHMIR

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ROF REYAZ PUNJABI: An ethnic Kashmiri, he studied and taught at University of Kashmir before moving to Jawaharlal Nehru University. Doctorate in Law and expert on International Peace and Conflict Studies he is also a visiting Professor and fellow in Jamia Millia Islamia, Indian Institute of Advance Study and Centre for South Asian Studies Switzerland. Predecessors: Prof Abdul Wahid Qureshi (Kashmiri), Prof Jalees AK Tareen (Karnataka)

UNIVERSITY OF JAMMU

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ROF VARUN SAHNI: A Hindu from Delhi, is an author of at least 75 reach articles in highly acclaimed journals and books. Editor of South Asian Survey he taught at JNU and lectured at National Defence College, Foreign Service Institute, College of Naval Warfare, Mumbai; Army War College, Mhow; Royal Naval Staff College, Greenwich; Australian Defence College, Canberra Royal Australian Naval College, Jervis Bay; and the LBSNAA. He has held visiting fellowships/professorships at Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico (1997), CIDE, Mexico City (1997-1999) National Defense University, Washington DC and the Asia Pacific College of Diplomacy. Predecessors: Amitabh Mattoo (Kashmiri Pandit), RR Sharma (a Dogra from Jammu)

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current Affairs Education-Politics

Them By Castes ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

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ROF SIDDIQ WAHID: A Shia Muslim from Leh (not Kargil), his family lived in Kashmir and he studied and taught mostly in US and Europe before taking this assignment. Holding an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. from Harvard in Inner Asian and Altaic history, Wahid is a much sought after public lecturer on peacemaking, Kashmir and Muslim world. Predecessors: Incumbent is founder Vice Chancellor since 2004

SKUAST-KASHMIR

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rof ANWAR ALAM: A Muslim from Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, he is an outsider for Kashmir but never faced any criticism for his domicile. A doctorate in 1972 from University of Illinois, Urbana–Champing, USA and D. Sc (Honoris Causa) in 1999 from Chander Shekhar Azad University of Agriculture and Technology, Kanpur, worked in US for four years and also remained Chief Technical Adviser FAO. Predecessors: Prof MY Kamal (Delhi), Prof Dar (Kashmir)

SKUAST-JAMMU

D

r B Mishra: A Hindu from Benaras in Uttar Pradesh, he is a famous rice and wheat breeder. He headed the Directorate of Rice Research (DRR), Hyderabad and Directorate of Wheat Research (DWR), Karnal - the two most important crops, rice and wheat, contributing more than 75 % to National Food basket. He was National rice and wheat research programme leader for more than eight years. Predecessors: Nagendra Sharma (Bihar), Hashmatullah Khan (Kashmiri civil servant)

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BABA GHULAM SHAH BADSHAH UNIVERSITY

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asud Chaudhary: A Gujjar Muslim from Poonch, he was Additional Director General of J&K Police when Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government appointed him as Project Director and CEO. Upon retirement from Police the same year he was elevated as Vice Chancellor. An alumni of Aligarh Muslim University, he set a rare example of bringing up the poorly funded University in competition with many in league of best. Predecessor: the incumbent is founder Vice Chancellor since 2004

SHRI MATA VAISHNO DEVI UNIVERSITY

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rof RNK BAMEZAI: A Kashmiri Pandit, is a Doctorate in Human Genetics and worked at National Centre of Applied Genetics, School of Life Sciences, JNU. He is credited with more than 29 years' experience of teaching and guiding research in various Universities in the country and has trained more than 300 researchers in the past seven years in the area of Human Genetics and Genomics. He has also lectured at various Universities abroad and authored nearly a hundred research papers published in eminent journals within and outside the country. Predecessor: Prof NK Bansal, Prof Chattoo (a Kashmiri Pandit)

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current affairs

Education-Politics

Please don't ask teacher his caste ANMOL SHARMA

Theatrics in the local news has sadly started once again. The circus this time will be performed by unschooled creatures and the uneasiness here is that it will be as outrageous as the “Magic Show” held recently in a broken movie theater of Jammu. But one thing is sure that it is going to be a typical case of comedy of errors because something that will be put on show which is completely alien even to them. The analogy here is the slang of pseudo-literate individuals about extremely delicate subject like manner and system of learning in the upcoming Central University of Jammu.

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f any such doubt would have been expressed by academicians from Jammu that a non Dogra Vice Chancellor is incompetent in merits to perform, then things would have been comprehensible. But such speeches from the mouths of ordinary politicians and people who have no acquaintance with academics is both weird and bizarre. Irony does not stop here. There are also some academicians and watchdogs of public affairs seeking privileged entry in the fourth estate sharpening the debate for a Dogra Vice Chancellor. It is an interesting debate minus the fact that they are not dropping any guess on choices. Would not it have been appropriate for people who are against NonDogra as VC to have also suggested the name or names of few individuals who they suppose are better suited than any other professor in India. I say this because the prime consideration for any well wisher of students is that the best individual should be managing this premier institution. There can, of course, be better persons than the one being tipped to take over the Vice Chancellor. Isn't it time to unveil their names to help

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the selectors with choices? Don't we desire only one thing from the selectors that only best faculty should tutor a Jammuite? Is this not good enough that only the best should teach us? Moreover, the matchless wisdom rooted in our Holiest scriptures like Srimad Bhagvatam and Ramayana is that Guru should be peerless and expert in his field. This has repeatedly been declared as the only criteria and there is no other parameter apart from this. The glorious Saint Kabir has also spoken in a similar comportment when he sang “Jaat na pucho sadh ki, pucho sadh ka gyan, mol karo talwar, padi rahen do mayan.” His forceful declaration to all and sundry is, please do not ask the teacher his caste, (or his place of birth in this case) just be his obedient student. So in other words Saint Kabir also forbids us not to display the height of stupidity by asking a teacher a question like, Are you from Jammu? By demanding that only Dogra should teach in CU is in fact going quite opposite to the wisdom of Kabir Das. Education is such a treasure that Lord Rama directed his younger brother Lakshman to go and learn wisdom by sit-

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ting near the feet of Ravana. What more can be said about the philosophy of Education. If we can learn something good from anybody then even a prostitute can be accepted as a Guru like ancient Sage Dattatreya did, whose prehistoric temple is located in our very own circular road! The greatest spiritualist of Hindus Sage Shukdev Goswami advised King Parikshit that one should learn only from an exalted soul even if he very much ridicules you. On the other hand we in Jammu instead of hailing, are ridiculing any eminent scholar of national fame who is willing to come to Jammu and impart knowledge at our door steps. What can be more unfortunate for us and what a pity that we think like this? Of course, a Dogra academician rising to the high position of Vice Chancellor of a Central University will bring a sense of highest pride and honour to this land of Dogra but the way this case is being presented on the 'sole basis if ethnicity' reflects our intellectual bankruptcy. Isn't it? Since a couple of newspapers speculated the names of Amitabh Mattoo and Siddiq Waheed, there is a whole gung-ho against them.

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current Affairs Education-Politics

Why oppose two particular academicians? Why not propose the alternate names. ome of these phony people who are doing interviews in the press supporting a dogra VC have themselves studied out of the Jammu and their children have also done their education from outside. So why are they denying the students of far off places who manage to enter CU the privilege of being trained by a person who has national/international expertise in his field. The focal idea behind the inception of these universities was that they will entertain international faculty as well as international under-grads/grads students who aspire specialized schooling. The whole idea of a desi Rector or chief executive for CU will keep on short-circuiting this principle value and goal behind this Institute. The person who is shouting the loudest in the melee of dogra as VC of CU has ironically forgotten that he himself was not a student of Jammu University when the same course which he studied outside was available in J&K at that time. Just for arguments sake, if today suppose IIT is planned to be opened in Jammu will they also then insist that some person from ITI, Vikram Chowk, be made its head? I believe it would be complete madness even to think like that!! I only thank my stars that AIIMS like institute failed to come up in Jammu. Otherwise they would have also demanded that only Jammu Doctors should be appointed and Gods knows what kind of standard of that Jammu AIIMS would have been then. All those who demand that Desi VC should be there must on principle declare that they will bind themselves to be (mis) treated in GMC by desi-doctors only and will never go outside the state in crisis as on the principle of parity they mean the same.

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Mr VC, ARE YOU FROM JAMMU? Sant Kabir's forceful declaration to all and sundry is, please do not ask the teacher his caste, (or his place of birth in this case) just be his obedient student. So in other words Saint Kabir also forbids us not to display the height of stupidity by asking a teacher a question like, Are you from Jammu To ask a bitter question then what is the standard of Jammu University compared at National level? What is the level of research done in the Physics, Mathematics, Law Departments? Where everyone passes the exam after fixing the result in re-evaluation? Are students from SMVDU (Headed by non-dogra VC) not better placed than students from JU? Reasoning would have been in the fact that only academicians who are like swans (Hans) be left to do the job that they know best and for the rest of owls and crows the saying of the legend Socrates is apt when he says, “Nature has given us two ears, two eyes, and but one tongue, to the end that we should hear and see more than we speak.�

PROPOSE, DON'T OPPOSE NAMES Of course, a Dogra academician rising to the high position of Vice Chancellor of a Central University will bring a sense of highest pride and honour to this land of Dogra but the way this case is being presented on the 'sole basis if ethnicity' reflects our intellectual bankruptcy. Isn't it? Since a couple of newspapers speculated the names of Amitabh Mattoo and Siddiq Waheed, there is a whole gung-ho against them. Why oppose two particular academicians? Why not propose the alternate names.

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Epilogue because there is more to know

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Who Patronises Caste Politics in Rajouri, Poonch By offering petty largesse to local legislators, NC and Congress have systematically kept this region unrepresented in Cabinet for last 10 years ZAFAR CHOUDHARY Within the definition of 'mainstream' if you are looking for best examples of participatory, competitive and truly democratic politics in Jammu and Kashmir, the twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch, perhaps, offer an excellent example. If castes were not a factor, Rajouri and Poonch would have offered best examples of secular politics as well but such a possibility is remote. Even if people burry the caste hatchet the political parties –particularly National Conference and Congress –would never let them do.

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mix of different identities and cultures, the political landscape, particularly the electoral politics, of Rajouri and Poonch has always remained different from any other part of Jammu and Kashmir. Elections have never been unusually rigged here and the poll percentage has often registered much higher than the state average. Consisting of seven assembly constituencies, this Muslim majority region never allowed the separatist politics to creep in in any form. A part of larger definition of Jammu region, Rajouri-Poonch have always rejected the religious factor in politics as it prevails in the plains of Jammu where the discourse often veers around Jammu versus Kashmir to touch down an obvious undercurrent of Hindu versus Muslim. The twin districts have mixed population of Hindus and Muslims even as Muslims further stand bitterly divided along castes and languages. It is this division between Muslims –Gujjars and Paharis –which offers fodder to the political parties.

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These two communities differ from each other on a range of issues and the political parties in power often offer doles to keep both in good humour. As bitterness between Gujjars and Paharis grows over the years, the political parties have walked an extra mile to catch hold of the either community. In this reach out drive from time to time, individuals have benefitted greatly while the plight of common peoples has not improved much. The region therefore remains one of the most backward –educationally, socially and economically –in the state. Rajouri-Poonch is perhaps one and the only region in the state which has always remained under-represented, sometimes not represented at all, in the decision making process even as these two districts constitute the safe pocket boroughs of the ruling parties. National Conference has its deep roots in the region and Congress as its traditional competitor until Peoples Democratic Party of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed made inroads. There were times getting

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National Conference for assembly elections would in itself be taken as a victory and the voting a mere formality. Such was the influence of National Conference and following of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in the region. The Congress later made steady inroads and became a main competitor of the National Conference. In 1957 elections when there were only five constituencies, the National Conference bagged four while one –Nowshera –went to the Congress. However, in 1962 elections all five seats went to the NC basket. Since 1967 and 72 elections were all Congress affairs while Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was in jail, National Conference bagged one of the five seats –Darhal –in 1972. In a discredited poll history of Jammu and Kashmir before 2002 elections, the 1977 elections were regarded as the best of the times. That year, with addition of one more constituency, NC won two seats, three went to Congress and one to an independent. In the bitterly fought elections of 1983 when National Conference was almost

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To keep its Gujjar constituency happy the Congress installed veteran leader Choudhary Mohammad Aslam as leader of the Congress Legislature Party in Assembly. Shabir Ahmed Khan was inducted as Minister of State to keep Paharis represented in the Council of Ministers. Congress also bagged the office of Gujjar Advisory Board and appointed Bashir Ahmed Naaz as its Vice Chairman to send across a message in the region that party is sensitive about Gujjars. Naaz had lost 2008 elections to Ajaz Jan of National Conference in Poonch constituency. With Congress's suddenly growing love for Gujjars, National Conference jumped in to own up the Paharis. It was widely expected that Vice Chairmanship of Pahari Advisory Board might go to Kafil-ur-Rehman, a legislator from Karnah, for giving representation to Kupwara district but Omar Abdullah picked up Mushtaq Ahmed Bukhari for the post. Bukhari had lost 2002 elections to Choudhary Mohammad Aslam of Congress in Surankote constituency. routed out in Jammu region, the party had two face savers from RajouriPoonch. In 1987, NC bagged two seats from the region, Congress walked away with three and one went to an independent. The Congress was quick to decode the message and it inducted two of them as Cabinet Ministers with important portfolios and third one was made Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. Perhaps this was the time that initiated the process of erosion of the base of National Conference in this region. In 1996, National Conference won five seats from the region and Congress got two. NC formed government while Congress returned to opposition with only eight seats in its kitty. Despite being in opposition, RajouriPoonch again figured prominently in Congress scheme of things as the partly installed one of its two legislators from the region as its Chief Whip in the assembly. National Conference again misread the message. In return of five seats it bagged from the region, the party inducted two legislators

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–Mohammad Sharief Tariq and Nisar Ahmed Khan –as Ministers of State. Two years later they were elevated to the rank of Cabinet Minister but only to be sacked disgracefully in year 2000. Close to elections, Dr Farooq Abdullah inducted party's senior-most leader

from the region Chowdhary Mohammad Hussain and a new comer Mushtaq Ahmed Bukhari as Ministers of State but that was largely seen in the region as an insult. In 2002, the National Conference tally remained intact but the party had lost power to a ragtag coalition of Peoples Democratic Party and Congress. This was the time for most of its hurt leaders to say enough is enough and switch sides to other parties. In these elections, the NC had bagged five seats, Congress one and one went to an independent. The Congress won over the lone independent candidate and then inducted both its legislators as Ministers of State. Another leader from the region –Shabir Ahmed Khan –was appointed as Vice Chairman of the Advisory Board for Pahari Speaking People, a post equivalent in status and rank of a Minister of State. Latest elections of 2008 have returned the National Conference with lowest ever tally of three. Two seats have been bagged by the Congress and the remaining two by the Peoples

Choudhary Zulfikar Ali and Sardar Rafiq Hussain Khan won 2008 elections from Darhal and Surankote constituencies respectively on Peoples Democratic Party ticket. Both these constituencies have remained a traditional bastion of the National Conference. Zulfikar's father Choudhary Mohammad Hussain represented Darhal in 1967 through 1996, barring two exceptions. PDP's presence in Rajouri and Poonch is a sign of trouble for National Conference but the party is going overboard with caste and not specific public welfare measures. Since year 2000 there has been no representation from Rajouri-Poonch in the state Cabinet. Between 2002 and 2008 elections, two legislators were with the ruling alliance. Both were inducted as Ministers of State and none could make to the Cabinet. Both were dropped in November 2005 and only one of them returned the next year again as Minister of State.

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MLA Kalakote Rashpal Singh, a Rajput fitting in the identity of Pahari, was picked up by Omar Abdullah for the post of Vice Chairman of Kissan Board –an office created on the same day when Rashpal was appointed its head with status of Minister of State. Since Congress had given representation to two Gujjars in the region, NC toyed with this creative idea as a caste balancing act. Jahangir Mir, Ravinder Sharma of Congress and MR Qureshi of National Conference are three Members of the Legislative Council from Rajouri and Poonch at present. Mir of Poonch was promised this seat in the Upper House in 2008 to surrender election ticket in favour of Bashir Ahmed Naaz in Poonch constituency. Ravinder Sharma, a Brahmin from Sunderbani is also a Pahari leader. Democratic Party. This time the ruling alliance is a partnership between Congress and the National Conference. Congress picked up its senior-most leader from the region Choudhary Mohammad Aslam, who won from Surankote constituency and installed him as leaders of its Legislature Party in the assembly. Though people had expected a ministerial berth for him but since party is encouraging young blood, the CLP leadership is an honour for Aslam. Its other winner from the region, Shabir Ahmed Khan has been inducted as a Minister of State with an array of departments under his charge. National Conference again missed the message only to late react in a hasty manner. As long as it was about giving representation to the region in decision making process, the Congress went slow and the National Conference just slept over things until the Gujjar Pahari factor hit the politics. It was at the time of distribution of non-ministerial posts between alliance partners, Congress and National Conference, that the caste factor in politics of Rajouri-Poonch suddenly assumed prominence. The Congress picked up a Gujjar from Poonch –Chowdhary Bashir Ahmed Naaz

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–and appointed him as Vice Chairman of the Advisory Board for Development of Gujjars, a post equivalent to a Minister of State in status and rank. This came in as knee jerk reaction for National Conference. Instead of making efforts at removing caste from politics, as one would have expected from a young and western educated leader like Omar Abdullah, the National Conference went on with a balancing act. To outsmart Congress, Omar Abdullah picked not one but two Pahari leaders for appointments to the posts carrying status and rank of a Minister of State. Mushtaq Ahmed Bukhari, who lost

2008 elections in Surankote constituency, has been appointed as Vice Chairman of the Advisory Board for Pahari Speaking People while Kunwar Rashpal Singh, MLA from Kalakote, was appointed Vice Chairman of Kissan Board, a new office created for welfare of farmers. Now Congress is harping on its Gujjar card and the National Conference is going full throttle to consolidate the Pahari speaking constituency. Both parties have been able to play their cards well at the cost of the people of Rajouri-Poonch. Individuals have benefitted from NC's and Congress's new penchant for Paharis and Gujjars and the region is against thrown outside the decision making process. Selective largesse offered to few leaders has clearly suggested that no legislator from Rajouri or Poonch is likely to make to the Cabinet in the present government. Meanwhile, the murky battle between Gujjars and Paharis has been left to them as keeping this caste conflict alive between the communities helps the parties. The main contention between the Gujjars and Paharis is the Scheduled Tribe state on which both groups continue to fight against each other under the larger political patronage.

After 2008 elections, five of the seven legislators are part of ruling coalition but none of them in Cabinet. There is only one Minister of State from the region and three other leaders hold the rank and status of a Minister of State. The MoS Shabir Ahmed is a Pahari and belongs to Congress Take example of Ladakh: Of four seats in the region, three were with ruling alliance between 2002 and 2008 and two of them were Cabinet Ministers. In 2008, again three have returned in the ruling alliance and two of them are again Cabinet Ministers with important departments of Tourism, Culture; Consumer Affairs and Public Disbursement and Transport.

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Facing the Challenges Ahead K.D. MAINI

The twin districts Rajouri and Poonch fall in Pir Panchal belt of Jammu province. This is an important mountainous range which bifurcates the valley of Kashmir from the Jammu province. Stein, the commentator of Raj Tringani defined Pir Panchal track as a region located between the rivers Jehlum and Chenab in the southern and south-western slopes of this region, which starts from Banihal Pass and comprise of Rajouri, Budhal, Poonch on India side of LOC and Kotli, Rawalakote and Bagh on the other side of the LOC. The 223 kilometer long LOC touches the boundaries of Sunderbani, Nowshera, Rajouri and Manjakote blocks of Rajouri district and Balakote, Mendhar, Poonch and Mandi blocks of Poonch district.

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resently these twin districts of Pir Panchal track on Indian side of LOC comprise of one Municipal Council at Poonch, six notified area committees, 13 community development blocks and 563 villages. This track is located on extreme border in the tail end of Jammu province. Most of the area is cut off, mountainous and inaccessible. Very meager infrastructural facilities are available in this belt. Due to disadvantages caused by geographical conditions, existence on line of actual control, continuous cross firing and shelling across the border for about 8 years far away from power centres; and negligible representation in the political scenario and administrative setup of J&K state, the people of these border districts turn economically backward where 46% population is still living below the poverty line. 49% families are without power, 23% souls are without drinking water facilities, 73% families are residing in Kachha houses, 79% are without flush latrines, 29% villages are yet to be connected with roads, 43000 educated unemployed are wandering in

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search of jobs. There is no medium or large scale industrial unit, no hydel project, commercial avenues are very limited. There is less than 1% representation in secretariat. No air link, no ATM and no rail link services are available in this track. The condition of only link road leading towards Jammu worsened for about last ten years. There are 62% Muslim families which are divided due to establishment of Line of Control. This scenario had turned the people of this district economically and educationally backward. As per the revenue record, the total area of Poonch-Rajouri districts is 4304 sq. kilometer while the projected population for the year 2009 is 10.63 lacs. As per the census 2001, the population of Rajouri district was 4.83 lacs, out of which 4.49 lacs were residing in rural areas while 0.34 lacs in the urban areas. There were 0.38 lacs Scheduled Casts and 1.67 lacs Schedule Tribe population in the district. The district was represented by 60.23% Muslims, 37.28% Hindus, 2.24% Sikhs, 0.02% Budhists, 0.04% Christians and 0.03% others. The

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total population of Poonch district was 3.73 lacs out of which 41% were Schedule Tribe, 52% were Paharis and 7% were Kashmiris while 87% were Muslims, 7% Hindus and 6% Sikhs. Hindus were dominating in Tehsil Nowshera, Sunderbani and Kalakote of district Rajouri while Muslim population was in majority in all the tehsils of Poonch districts apart from tehsil Thanamandi, Budhal and Rajouri of Rajouri district. In Poonch district before independence almost all the villages were having some minority population, however due to the happenings of 1947, 1965, 1971 and proxy war from 1989 onward, the minority population gradually migrated to other parts of the country and presently the Hindus and Sikhs are concentrated in Poonch, Surankote and Mendhar towns and eleven surrounding villages. The twin districts Rajouri and Poonch are dominated by 93% GujjarBakerwal tribes and Pahari speaking people including Hindus and Sikhs while 7% Kashmiri speaking population inhabiting in those villages which are nearer to the Kashmir valley. The historic back-

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grounds, cultural aspects, dresses, diets, languages, habits, life style, economic conditions, miseries and problems of the people of this belt are very distinct as compared to the other districts of the Jammu province. In spite of sufferings and repeated disturbances, surprisingly, the people of this region had maintained communal harmony and peaceful atmosphere. The traditions of composite cultural heritage and secular outlook have traveled with the history. The brotherhood of the people of Poonch and Rajouri is taller than the mountains surrounding this belt. The ties of communal harmony, friendly relations and tolerance survived in very odd events of the history. The people of various religions, races and sections have a long tradition of restrain and respect of each other.

RAJOURI Before 26th October 1846, Rajouri remained the principality of Jaral Muslim Rajas for about 700 years. These Rajas were secular and accommodative. The forces of Jaral Rajas were comprised of Hindu Rajputs apart from Muslims. The Prime Minister's post was

always retained by Hindu Mehta family. As per Tuzk-e-Jhangiri there was a custom of inter-religious marriages between the royal Muslim Jaral Rajas and the Hindu Rajputs which was banned by the Emperor Jhangir during his visit of Rajouri in 1616. After the creation of new J&K state in 1846, in the light of Amritsar Pact between Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu and Britishers, the Rajouri principality was taken over by Maharaja Gulab Singh. The Muslim population of Rajouri was deadly against the rule of Maharaja Gulab Singh but there was no communal tension in this area. It is a fact that large number of minorities was killed in 1947 by the Sudan rebels under the leadership of Sakhi Daler and a deserter Colonel Rehmatullah of Maharaja's forces but the local Muslims had not taken part in this brutal act. At this crucial stage, there are hundreds of examples in which local Muslims had given shelter to Hindu brothers in the villages and protected their lives.

POONCH In Poonch principality, the atmosphere of brotherhood and communal

A fort suspension bridge in Rajouri.

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harmony was more congenial from early times. W.C Archer the writer of 'Indian Paintings of Punjab Hills' writes that during the rule of Raja Rustam Khan Rathore from 1760-1787, Poonch town was dominated by Hindu traders. Raja Rustam Khan was a disciple of a Hindu hermit. It was during his period when Dashnami Akhara Poonch was constructed by Raja Rustam Khan on the request of the hermit. In this period, number of Hindu traders, Hakims, Munshis and Artists had shifted from other parts to Poonch principality. They were having equal rights from the Raja's side while the Muslim natives had accommodated them in their villages. There was no official protection to minorities. The local Muslims were not only protective but also attentive to issues and affectionate in nature. Therefore, with the passage of time the minority people diluted their original identity and became the part of cultural heritage of this area. During the Gujjar rule of Raja Ruallah Khan Sangu on Poonch from 1798-1819, a great Sikh Saint Thakur Bhai Mela Singh had came to Poonch from Rawalakote in 1802 and established a Gurudwara Dera Santpura Nangali Sahib, the biggest Sikh shrine in J&K state at present. During the rule of local Dogra Hindu Rajas from 18521947, there was complete communal harmony in the region. Majority of the Ministers and officials of these Rajas were Muslims including the first and the last Prime Minister of Poonch Mian Nizam-ud-Din. After independence, the people of all the communities were living in an amiable manner, in the twin districts Poonch and Rajouri. There are such villages where 90% population belongs to one community and 10% to another. The minority population had never been given to understand that they are outsiders or different, rather they have been given more affection and respect

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by the majority Muslim brothers who had always protected the minority population. The minority community was having full faith and confidence on the majority population. During militancy days, when a large section of the minority population were brutally killed, neither Hindu nor Sikh blamed the local Muslim brothers because they were aware of the fact that this was not a local act. Accordingly, hundreds of patriotic Muslims were beheaded, their houses were burnt and 21,000 thousand persons of Muslim community were compelled to migrate from their native places to security areas because they were patriotic, with a secular outlook and not hardliner; and never accepted the radical views of the militants. Therefore, the Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs jointly faced the militancy scenario 1989 onwards.

UNDERSTANDING THE CHALLENGES The above facts reveal that the habitants of twin districts of Rajouri and Poonch have always remained secular, moderate and accommodative. The cordial and friendly relations among the communities had given birth to composite cultural heritage. The most important factor behind this brotherhood was

During militancy days, when a large section of the minority population were brutally killed, neither Hindu nor Sikh blamed the local Muslim brothers because they were aware of the fact that this was not a local act. Accordingly, hundreds of patriotic Muslims were beheaded, their houses were burnt and 21,000 persons of Muslim community were compelled to migrate

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ALONG THE MUGHAL ROAD : Thanna Mandi

the impact of Sufism on the life of the people of this region who taught love for mankind, tolerance and respect of all the religions. Almost every village have a Sufi Dargah, Asthan or Ziarat. These Sufi centres are still inspiring the people belonging to all the communities. The shrine of Shahdara Sharief Rajouri and Sain Miran Bakash Guntrian Poonch is equally respected by Hindus and Sikhs. The Urs of Sain Ellahi Bakash of Battlekote Mandi is organized by a NonMuslim Organization Pritam Spiritual Trust. On the eve of Rakshabandan Festival, the Chari Mubarakh Yatra which starts from Dashnami Akhara Poonch and leads towards Swami Budha Amarnath Mandi is received by Suni Muslims at Chandak and Shia Muslims in Mandi Bazar. The Muslims and Hindus jointly participate in Baisakhi Mela at Gurudwara Nangali Sahib. The oldest Ramkund Temple of Raja Lalita Ditya's time is located in hundred percent Muslim populated village Narol of Mendhar tehsil. The Muslim natives have been looking after and protecting the temple since centuries..

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Therefore, we can say that the habitants of Poonch and Rajouri had managed and maintained an atmosphere largely free from communal hostilities. There is a big question that why communal conflicts of very serious nature erupted in this region during August 2008 which had tarnished and tainted our traditional brotherhood. Immediately after the happenings of Jammu and Srinagar during Amarnath Shrine episode, the hardliners and fanatics of Kashmir valley and Jammu city prevailed upon both the communities and communalize the situation in this border and sensitive track. On the inciting of outsiders, the small groups of local youths gathered in religious places, organized rallies and raised unwanted slogans on communal lines which had resulted the communal outbursts in Thanamandi, Surankote, Mendhar and Poonch town. The worst type of communal riots were in Poonch town, Bhainch and Dalera villages in which 134 shops and houses of both the communities were either burnt or looted. When the worse was taking

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place, there were still cases of sympathy for the other community during the riots. The role of M.R Qureshi MLC Mendhar, PDP leader Hamid Manhas of Surankote and Yashpal Sharma of Poonch remain appreciable in restoring the confidence of people at this stage. No doubt those 16 months have been passed, law and order situation have been improved and composite cultural heritage have been restored up to some extent. But still doubts and confusion persists. There is a lack of trust and confidence due to the riots. The minority people both in rural and urban areas are still frightened, harassed and upset. The mistrust and the feeling of alienation have not been removed completely from their minds. There are various factors behind this tension. The Paksponsored agencies are working in this sensitive area to disrupt the normal life, destabilize the region and create communal tension in which it becomes impossible for the minorities to live in this region. The contribution of hardliners, fanatic and radical elements of Kashmir valley is equally responsible in inciting some youths on communal lines. Some Urdu newspapers of Kashmir valley have exploited the situation in Poonch and Rajouri on communal line and propagated for a separate region comprises of Poonch and Rajouri districts. It is fact that the people of Poonch and Rajouri have severe type of grievances with the leadership of Jammu who had never represented the aspirations of the people of these districts. They are visiting only during the election time to get the votes of the people. They failed to establish the link with the majority Muslim community of this area. There is a vacuum of relations and understanding between the leadership of Jammu and Poonch-Rajouri. Therefore, they are ignorant about the problems, miseries and suffering of the

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people of Poonch-Rajouri belt. This scenario has given birth to the idea of separate region for Rajouri and Poonch so that development could take place. Inspite of all the above facts the majority population of Poonch and Rajouri is not in favour of separation from Jammu province because of the similar social, cultural and linguistic characteristics with Jammu people as compared to the other regions of the state. Therefore, this is time for Jammu leadership to awaken and fulfills the urges and aspirations of the people of these twin districts so that the economic backwardness from this belt could be eradicated. This is very essential for the smooth relations of the communities within Jammu province. As stated above the people of Poonch and Rajouri districts are mostly comprise of Gujjar-Bakerwal tribes and Pahari speaking people including Hindu, Muslim and Sikhs. All these ethnic races have an unique type of historic, cultural and linguistic identities. Still they are neighbours since centuries, living in the same belt, villages, dhoks and meadows. However, the Gujjars and Bakerwals were given Schedule Tribe status in 1991 on the bases of vulnerable economic conditions. Same type of demand was raised by Pahari-speaking section which is yet to be considered. Therefore, there is resentment among Paharis on this issue. Ethnically these races have been polarized and severe rifts have emerged between the Scheduled Tribe and the remaining population during last twenty years. No efforts from government side have been made to bulge the differences between Paharis and Gujjar-Bakerwal communities rather during the election time the candidates use this tension to strengthen their vote bank. This tension can be worsened at any time. Therefore there is a need of some package or

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arrangement for the relief of those Pahari-speaking population to address their grievances without disturbing the Scheduled Tribe status of Gujjar and Bakerwal communities otherwise the rift between the ethnic groups shall widen in future and therefore, it will not be a healthy symptom for the people of the border belt of Poonch and Rajouri.

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE? The people of this region have always remained in the mainstream of national politics. There was no political alienation even during militancy period. No voices asking for separatism or autonomy emerged in this belt until 2008. However, after the happenings of August 2008, the fundamentalists and radical elements from the outside had tried best to setup a separatist political platform in this region. No doubt that the mainstream leadership is very strong, active and dominating the politics of the area. However the scattered separatists and radical voices emerged in Thanamandi, Surankote and Poonch area. In this initial stage, these voices are not very strong. But we must be conscious from such sections of the people that can create tension and chaos at any time in these districts as it happened in 2008. They must be dealt in a political manner. It is very essential to work for the restoration of old traditions of brotherhood on the basis of the sermons of Sufi saints and Darveshs who always preached love for mankind, tolerance, restrain and respect of every religion. There is a need of understanding and reconciliation among the religious communities. Let the NGOs, human rights activists, religious personalities and social workers come forward and start the journey of peace and reconciliation. On government side, efforts need to be made to strengthen the ties of communities to resore peace, happiness and harmony in the region. (IPCS)

Epilogue, May 2010


21

In focus

The Microcosm of Pir Panchal

Social Structure and Perceptions of Regional Disparities MAZAMMAL HUSSAIN MALIK

T

he whole region of Rajouri and Poonch is populated with different religious and caste communities –drawn mainly from Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs –with deep rooted customs and traditional system. SocioCultural and Economic pattern of inhabitants of the region are mostly similar to each other. Hindu community is divided into four caste groups as practiced in Indian traditional caste system while the Muslims are rigidly stratified into four caste groups –Rajputs, Gujjars, Kashmiries and 'others'. They never practice exogamous pattern of marriage and are the staunch believer of caste system and allied practices. RAJPUTS: The term Rajput is derived from Sanskrit word “Rajputra” found in the Vedas, the Ramayana, and Mahabharata. It has been used by the warriors and the Rulers, with passage of time there were many kshatriyas. The primogeniture allowed only the oldest male offspring of a king to succeed him, the rest were known as Rajputra.The word Rajput is claimed to be a changed term of Rajputra. Gradually it became a caste. Rajputs regard themselves as being descended from the Vedic warrior class known as the Kshatriyas. The majority of Rajputs in Rajouri District are the Muslims and their origin is claimed from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Though the Muslim faith is against belief of a person being born from sun, moon,

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and fire, but even Muslim Rajputs feel proud of being from the Rajput Clan. They often make reference to the bravery of their ancestors in the battle fields of the past and extend equal status to the parallel clan that is Hindu Rajputs. At the time of any conflict with non Rajput communities, the Hindu and Muslim Rajputs communities emotionally unite to protect their prestige. They love to serve in armed forces. Rajputs of Rajouri-Poonch have been divided into two religious communities, ie, Hindu Rajputs and Muslim Rajputs. Hindu Rajputs have been classified into various sub castes like Thakers, Manhas, Chauhan Thakyal, Chandial, Charrak, Kamlak, and Chib; Muslim Rajputs have been further divided in to various sub castes such as, Jarral, Malik, Domal, Thakyal, Khokhar, Janjua, Salaria, Bhatti, Feerozal Gakhar, Manhas, Manial, Chib, Thakkar, and Kamlak etc. As such there are more than 54 sub-castes of Muslim Rajputs existing in the area. GUJJARS: The Gujjars are an ethnic group in India and Pakistan. In India, the Gujjars follow Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam. The Hindu Gujjars belong to the traditional Kishatriya Varna in Hinduism, while the Muslim Gujjars are considered to be a Potwari tribe in India and Pakistan. The historical background of the community is associated with the Rajputs clan of Rajasthan and Gujarat. In India Gujjar population is found in Delhi, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir,

Vol. 4, Issue 5

Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, western Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, northern Madhya Pradesh, Utterakhand, Gujrat and Maharashtra. Gujjars in north India are now considered as vote bank by the different political parties. Rajesh Pilot was prominent Gujjar leader in north India, with his political support the Gujjars have been classified as a Scheduled Tribe in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, and as other backward classes in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. In Jammu and Kashmir the population is mainly concentrated in Rajouri and Poonch Districts, followed by Baramulla, Kupwara, Anantnag, Udhampur and Doda Districts. The Bakarwals is the Parallel ethnic group to the Gujjars, inter section marriage takes place freely among Gujjars and Bakarwals. All Gujjars of Jammu and Kashmir are the followers of Islam. While considering the sentimental attitude, physical features, racial and genealogical background of the Gujjars and Bakarwals, it is observed that the clan is purely a Rajput clan. But on account of the regional variation their recognition is different from that of the fact; they do not perceive themselves as Rajputs. Period of their conversion to Islam is treated to be the same as the conversion of the other Muslim Rajputs, of the area. Majority of the Gujars are illiterate due to which they can be exploited easily by their political leaders. The Major economy of the Gujars community is comprised of

Epilogue, May 2010


22

In focus The Microcosm of Pir Panchal

Agriculture, government jobs, cattle rearing and few among them are rearing Sheep and goats and leading semi nomadic life, during winter they migrate with their herds to the foot hills of Peer Panchal, and in summer season in search of pasture they migrate to high up in the mountains. The Gujjars of Rajouri-Poonch are divided into innumerable sub-castes but major among them are, Dhakkar, Khatana, Badana, Sood, Paswal, Kalas, Benth, Bijran, Chauhan, Chechee, Sango, Rana etc. associated with the Rajputs clan of Rajasthan and Gujarat. KASHMIRIS: The term refers to the people who are inhabitants of the valley of Kashmir, but generally the term is used in its broader concept for the people of Jammu and Kashmir by the people of rest of India. But in Rajouri and Poonch Districts, Kashmiris are the people who speak Kashmiri language with Pahari language. A small section of the people in Rajouri district is speaks Kashmiri language. They reportedly migrated from valley of Kashmir to Rajouri and Poonch districts since the time immemorial, their major concentration of the community is observed in Thannamandi Tehsil of District Rajouri and Buffliaz, Chandhimarh and Loranmandi in District Pooch, as these are the adjoining Mountainous areas of Kashmir Valley. The old persons of the community are claiming themselves as traditional manual labourer working in the areas for centuries, majority of the community members leading miserable life in extreme poverty. Their historical background is similar to that of other Kashmiri Muslim in the valley of Kashmir as they had been converted to Islam from Kashmiri Pandhits. Caste stratification among the Kashmiries is not so rigid as among other Muslim communities of the areas. They have matrimonial relations with all the Muslims irre-

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Per Capital Net District Domestic Product for the Year 2002-03 (P) Rank

District

1

Srinagar

2

Per Capita Income at current prices

Rank

District

Per Capita Income at current prices

17896

1

Pulwama

9509

Leh

17555

2

Kathua

9328

3

Jammu

16323

3

Leh

8228

4

Kathua

16193

4

Jammu

8198

5

Pulwama

15406

5

Rajouri

8114

6

Kargil

14581

6

Udhampur

8042

7

Baramulla

13997

7

Poonch

7993

8

Udhampur

13870

8

Srinagar

7815

9

Anantnag

13868

9

Budgam

7736

10

Rajouri

13725

10

Kargil

7504

11

Poonch

13049

11

Anantnag

7042

12

Budgam

12698

12

Baramulla

6837

13

Doda

11573

13

Doda

6814

14

Kupwara

9999

14

Kupwara

5407

Agriculture Area sown more than once as %age of net sown area

Cropping intensity

Gross Area irrigated

Gross Area irrigated as %age of gross area sown

Rajouri

81.51

181.51

82.76

8.51

Poonch

66.97

166.97

6691

14.48

J&K State

53.9

153.9

471134

41.45

Post Offices Area Sq.km

Population

Rajouri

125

21.04

4525

Poonch

64

26.16

6814

J&K State

1691

.60

7021

Banking District

Average area Population per bank branch coverage per (sq. km) bank branch

CD Ration

Perceptive BPL Plan population outlay

Rajouri

64.15

14925

24.39

1206.97

25.1

Poonch

79.71

22467

22.61

1347.09

33.67

13268

49.19

1053

21.63

J&K State 104.74

Vol. 4, Issue 5

Epilogue, May 2010


23

In focus The Microcosm of Pir Panchal

spective of the caste. They are liberal like Kashmiri Muslims and Kashmiri Pandhits. As such Kashmiri Hindus (Pandhits) are different from elsewhere. (Subash Kak, 1996). Major castes among Kashmiries are Bhat, Mir, Khawaja, Bhanday, Maghray, Khans Kandru, Itto, Muttoo and Sheikh. There are more than 130 caste titles of Kashmiries of the Valley of Kashmir but few among them are existing in the area under study. OTHER COMMUNITIES: - These communities are comprised of Sayeed, Qureshi, Mughal, Pathan and Sheikh (muslim banghi) and They are claiming their origin in golf countries. The caste structure of these communities is not similar to that of the whole Indian Muslims. In all the studies of caste among Muslims the term 'Ashraf' (Arabic words meaning honourable) is used for the Muslim of foreign origin and converts from Hindus of higher birth. And Risely (1908) in Bengal used the term 'Ajlaf' for the Muslims engaged in clean occupational group like, barber, carpenter, laundrymen, potter, tailor, and Rangrez. 'Arzal' for the Muslims engaged in unclean occupational groups like, Bhangi (scavenger), Cobbler (Mochi). In Rajouri and Poonch Districts except Sayeeds, 35% of the total population of these communities are originally belong to the Ashraf category of the Muslims, majority of the Ajlaf claiming themselves as Ashraf are the Muslim Dooms(drum beater) Mouchies (Cobbler) and Banghies (scavenger) using the title of Sheikhs with their names. The historical accounts refer that this section has been converted from untouchable Hindus due to the suppression of rigid caste system of Hindus and social disability. During the process of Islamization they changed their caste and claim themselves as Sheikh which is higher caste among Muslims in the

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whole of the country. Clean occupational group in Rajouri District claim themselves as Qureshi, Mughals and Thakkers, such as Barbars, carpenters, Black smiths, weavers, Muslim jewelers, etc, but in the real sense they have been converted from clean occupational Hindu castes. Their economic activities are confined to their traditional occupational system, still they use the out dated techniques in their activities due to which they are poor and lead miserable life. It is taken into consideration that four Muslim caste categories and Hindus as well as Sikhs are dwellers of the remote and hilly Districts, whose sociocultural affinity and language is binding strength of their cultural heritage. Which have been nourishing their age old secular out look, extending common culture, speaking common language, residing on the foothills of Panchal Range starting from Budhal to Muzaffarabad. They extend very peculiar familial pattern, marriage customs and rituals which are not observed in other parts of the State. FAMILY AND MARRIAGE PATTERN: The family as primary institution performs the same functions every where. But pattern of the family in one society is different from the other. The family pattern in Rajouri-Poonch is purely joint, male dominated, traditional and orthodox. Modern urbanization and industrialization has hardly impacted the family structure and values. On the basis of study of the Region, among 651 respondents majority of them(74%) practices joint family system, because (83%) of the population is comprised of Paharies and Gujars and their means of subsistence is agriculture, cattle rearing some among them are semi nomadic, this type of setup requires manual force.. In whole area the parental property is inherited only

Vol. 4, Issue 5

by the male members of the society. Majority of the respondents (93%) elicited that female members are not given importance in the familial or matrimonial decisions. Majority of the respondents (89%) expressed their views that they give preference to the male child birth instead of female child. Marriage among people of the Region is considered to be most important. These are performed according to the traditional rituals of each caste group. The marriage among the people is purely endogamous, inter caste marriage is considered as a serious threat, among four caste categories of Muslims. Gujars are purely endogamous, but in rear cases Rajputs (Male) can marry outside the caste but never give their girls to any of the other castes of the Muslims. In the past marriage proposals were initiated by the Barbers but with passage of time custom has been changed, and now friends and relatives perform the practice, the mate selection is made by the parents, and early marriage is a common practice among the people of Rajouri and Poonch Districts. The rate of divorce is very low among the people in the area. Matrimonial disputes are settled by the elderly members of the areas and few cases are settled by the courts. The study indicates that majority of the respondents (72%) prefer early marriage of their sons and daughters due to mass illiteracy, orthodoxy, outcaste threat and prevailing insecurity caused by militancy and allied factors, Majority of the respondents (97%) observe caste endogamous marriage, 02% to 05% of the marriages are performed by love or elopement. In the past polygamous pattern was also performed but major change has taken place in this custom, as only 2% to 3% of the people prefer more than one wife. Dowry system is very simple, majority of

Epilogue, May 2010


24

In focus The Microcosm of Pir Panchal

the respondents (91%) expressed that they give buffaloes, cows, goats, sheep, spinning wheel and other domestic materials, where as, 09% of the population, imitate the modern practices of dowry system and spend major amount according to their income structure, Marriage bonds are maintained in accordance with the religious citations and social sanctions. They generally wear silver ornaments like jumka. Kangan, Sierie(necklace), long, Challa, Payal, but among some people the gold jewelry is considered as the status symbol. ECONOMIC CONDITION: - The Economic condition of the people of the District Rajouri is miserable and inadequate, according to census 2001, the major occupation is agriculture and allied activities due to the Geographical disadvantage, mass poverty and illiteracy the people are economically backward, the small farmers have little pieces of land holdings, kacha houses, most of the agricultural area is located on the hill slopes where irrigation and tractor facilities can not be availed. On the other hand due to snow fall only Kharief crop is possible in their fields, in addition to that there is lack of employment, and manual workers go outside the state in search of job. Major economy of the people is agriculture but it can be expected that a single source of income which cannot fulfill the basic amenities of a particular community does not deserve to be recognized as the economy of the community. On the basis of study, the whole economic structure of the districts is divided into four categories: (i) Population with Agricultural activities, (ii) Population with Government services. (iii) Population with cattle rearing, (iv) Manual labourer. 48% of the total working population is engaged in agriculture economy while, 13% of the working Population is engaged in government

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Agriculture District

Reported Area (ha)

Cultivable Area (ha)

Cultivable Area as %age reported area

Rajouri

253340

54039

21.33

Poonch

11381

27918

24.41

J&K State

2415801

803466

33.26

NREGA : Statement for the last two years as on ending December, 2008 & 2009 District

2008-09

Pulwama

2009-10 upto Jan 2010

Works executed

Works completed

Works executed

Works completed

219

46

777

187

Kupwara

1797

658

1406

489

Bandipora

54

4

265

16

Shopian

58

0

293

71

Budgam

169

13

495

133

Sri nagar

5

1

38

12

Ganderbal

87

6

224

165

Kargil

440

145

370

89

Anantnag

632

77

1200

424

Leh

55

0

96

28

Baramulla

47

0

1088

174

Kulgam

347

58

607

206

Jammu

1163

669

2810

269

Samba

288

138

399

115

Kathua

199

03

767

102

Rajouri

1238

334

1970

978

Poonch

1761

1582

2692

756

Reasi

517

193

647

221

Ramban

705

546

1027

423

Kistwar

1309

950

1934

1395

Doda

1687

1646

2127

1076

Udhampur

335

0

736

192

Total

13112

7069

21968

7521

Estimated literary rate for 2009 (Excluding 0-6 population( Male

Female

Rajouri

59.19

70.76

46.07

Poonch

62.54

71.11

54.78

J&K State

67.89

74.96

59.71

Vol. 4, Issue 5

Epilogue, May 2010


25

In focus The Microcosm of Pir Panchal

services, where as, 23% of the total population depend upon cattle rearing, 16% of the total population is working as manual labourer. Among them 09% of the labourers are working outside the state, as, in Mumbai, Punjab, and H.P., on account of non availability of work avenues in the State. The major portion of the youths is unemployed. The economy of the district is not satisfactory and more than 60% of the population is living below the poverty line. The youths of the area is badly effected by the prevailing limited economic resources7. Due to extreme poverty and unemployment some people even indulge in illegitimate sources of earning, either they smuggle forest wood, make local wine (in Khawas, doungi Grarti and some other areas) or join militancy in the State for their means of subsistence. E D U C AT I O N A L C O N D I T I O N : Educational condition of the Districts is not good though census figures of 2001 indicates the 57.65 literacy rate in Rajouri, it stands at the 6th place in the district wise literacy data, but it is expected less than this, and further decline is expected in the higher reaches. According to Education Department of J&K, (2007-08) the District has 1250 educational institution at primary level and 366 institution, at upper primary level. The people have not been encouraged to send their children to the school. Majority of the students cannot complete even their school education up to the 10th level, so dropped out from the school due to the financial constraints of the parents and uncertainty of future career. The data indicates that, 45% to 55% of the children's population of the District goes to school. Among them 48% of the children dropped-out from the school from first to middle class level, and female dropped out children constitute major-

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ity among them at the same level. The major causes of educational backwardness are their rigid Caste system, traditional beliefs, orthodoxy, extreme poverty and mass illiteracy and non availability of educational facilities. They prefer the children to graze the cattle in the field or (male children) to work as labourer and earn money to fulfill the basic needs of the family, instead of sending them to the school. They are not aware of the legal restriction on the child labour. HEALTH CONDITION:In the region majority of the people are suffering due to lack of health related facilities, the area has not been facilitated with the modern health care system, according to the survey of (EPOS health India 2004-05) In Rajouri there are 146 sub center, 40 PHCs,7 functional CHCs, and one District Hospital. More than 80% of the sub centers are without their own buildings, all the Medical sub Cs are with out public utilities for male and female and also without the toilet, labour rooms, telephone facility, even the PHCs are running in similar condition. The District Hospital is also ill equipped. The district health administration is divided in to four Medical blocks namely Sunderbani, Darhal, Kandi.and Nowshera one CHC in Nowshera which caters about 121627 populations, in block Darhal 2 CHCs which cater about 172460 populations, only one CHC in block Kandi which caters about 141000 populations. In the area more than 58% of the deaths cases are associated with Maternal- mortality (district Hospital record 2007-08). 84% of the deliveries in the hilly areas take place with out trained personnel (FMPHW), as in hilly areas Medical Termination of Pregnancy services are not available, due to which Infant Mortality rate is also very high. 81% of the women of the area are not aware of

Vol. 4, Issue 5

'Woman and child' health care and the precautions, which are to be taken during pregnancy. Early marriage is also a cause which leads to increase in the maternal mortality rate. Some migratory labourers are the HIVAIDS infected under treatment at ART Center Medical College Jammu. PERCEPTION OF REGIONAL DISPARITY: The Jammu and Kashmir State of North India having area of 222,200 sq. km. including area occupied by China and Pakistan with 10,069,900 population (census 2001), its three cities are Jammu, Srinagar and Leh (Ladakh). The State has four types of unique cultural blend that differentiate it from the rest of the Country. The Socio-cultural and demographic structure of the State is roughly comprised of five distinct parts namely Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh, Chenab Valley and Rajouri-Poonch. Zhese five regions have their own separate linguistic identity, Kashmir is represented by Kashmiri language, Jammu is represented by Dogri language Ladakh is represented by Ladakhi comprised of Balti, Dardi and Shina and Rajouri-Poonch is represented by Phari comprised of Gojri and Poonchi languages. For interregional interaction Urdu or Hindi is used as Communicative language. Though the four region of the State are different from each other in socio-cultural, ethnic, linguistic and demographical background but they have maintained the Indian tradition of unity in diversity. The regional disparity is the term, which indicates the developmental imbalance among regions or it may be said that regional disparity is the result of common efforts for the development of all the regions with out systematic evaluation of level of backwardness. Balanced regional development does not mean equal development of all the

Epilogue, May 2010


26

In focus The Microcosm of Pir Panchal

regions of the state or nation but it needs socio-cultural and economic development to its fullest potential so that the fruits of development can be shared by all the regions. It is generally considered that the existence of any community is closely associated with its racial, ethnic, social and regional history. (Sukhbir Tamang 2009) In so for as regional disparity of the area under study is concerned, it remained a battle field of various wars since the Paula Dynasty, it was more affected during the turmoil of 1947 and tribal raids. the prosperity of the region has taken its hugely turn witnessing heartrending episodes of genocide and mass exodus, moreover two wars of 1965 and 1971 have been fought in the region which effected socio-cultural and demographic structure of the region, besides wars majority of the population of the region has been the victim of cross boarder bullets, mines networking of the boarder areas, which lead to the loss of their lives, moveable and immoveable property. (Hasham Ali 2007) The on going movement in the

Kashmir valley has also caused much havoc to the region. Since 1947 the region has long history of dejection, plethora of untold miseries and chronicle disparity being a neglected part of the state. The successive Governments in the State, political parties and other organizations are unable to perform expected role for the rehabilitation of aggrieved and neglected masses due to their own limitations, but exploit them on the name of castes and enhance the inter caste distrust. During recent past political turmoil in 1989 over 700 families comprising 6300 persons migrated from their respective areas and settled in different towns like Jammu, Rajouri and Nowshera, they have not been provided any relief including ration or cash for want of funds. The State Human Right Commission couldn't proved to be effective in the process of rehabilitation of the people of Rajouri and Poonch as more than 15 cases had been recommended by the SHRC to the State government to consider all the internal displaced persons of Rajouri-Poonch at par with the boarder migrants of the Jammu

District as well as the migrants of Kashmir8. Following directives of the Supreme Court government agreed to facilitate the displaced but due to deficiency of funds assurance could never transformed in to the practice. All the organizations and social activists have failed to provide justice to the victims of terrorism and State apathy. In any political issues the people of the region have no space, the aspirations and opinions of the people are not taken in to account. Violation of human rights and atrocities on these people remain unnoticed and are not reported any where. The true representatives of the people of Kashmir and Jammu have never visited this area are completely unaware of the geographic, ethnic, linguistic and cultural composition of the State. Same is true with Government of India, in the process of maintenance of peace between India and Pakistan the interaction of youth of both the countries has been extended but youth of effected regions have not been involved in the process. The administrative data, of different departments, particularly the eco-

Households, Household size and Household Services District

Area

Total Rajouri

Poonch

House hold size

Electricity

Latrine

Households services Sale drinking Availing water Banking service

Without any specified assets

81850

5.9

56384

18333

23905

27643

31097

Rural

75253

6

49933

12543

17920

27061

26838

Urban

6597

5.1

6451

5790

5988

4036

805

Total

59644

6.2

33251

17908

21348

21372

21135

Rural

55239

6.3

28989

14.37

17237

18037

20593

Urban

4405

5.4

4262

3871

4111

3335

542

Total

1551768

6.5

1250738

824602

10111589

566133

399767

J&K State Rural Urban

India

No. of Households

1161357

6.6

868341

485434

638004

344778

362009

390411

6.4

382397

339168

373585

221355

37758

Total

191963935

5.4

107209054

69887599

149581740

68230642

66198648

Rural

138271559

5.4

60180685

30304359

101251117

41639949

55988658

Urban

53692376

5.3

47028369

39581440

48330623

26590693

10209990

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Vol. 4, Issue 5

Epilogue, May 2010


27

In focus The Microcosm of Pir Panchal

nomic survey of the State9 and primary survey of the investigator have indicated that Socio-cultural and economic condition of the region is relatively backward from other three regions of the State having mass illiteracy out dated customs, traditions and rituals, majority of the population is leading tribal way of life with rigid caste system. Modern governmental efforts, limited opportunities and external impact could not change the attitude of the people of the area. While examining the ethnocentric attitudes of the people of other two regions of Jammu and Kashmir it has been observed that majority of the people about 85% to 90% use the term 'Gujjar' to identify the people of Rajouri-Poonch, the term 'Gujjar' in J&K State refers to the victim of extreme poverty and social backwardness10. It is to be considered that when common man of the other regions has general perceptions of the regional backwardness of the area under study, so it does not require any technical rating scale to measure the regional disparity. In developmental aspects disparity can be observed when the work performance has been evaluated in context of roads connectivity of the areas, the roads which have been initiated in 1974 still could not become motor able, one among them is a road to connect R a j o u r i - Po o n c h H i g h w a y w i t h Thannamandi having only 21 Km distance. Where as most of the roads and allied facilities have been provided in the Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh areas. Rajouri-Poonch Mughal road leading to the Valley of Kashmir has some what similar history. The economic survey of the State for 2006-07 indicates that the road length per 100 sq. km., in Jammu District is 70.81 km; it is 34.17 km and 12.66 km in poonch and Rajouri districts respectively.

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In education sector, Jammu has 2,278 government and private run primary, middle, high and higher secondary Schools, where as, in poonch and Rajouri, the number is only 10,65 and 1,400, respectively. Due to which the rate in Jammu is 77% whereas it is 51.20% in poonch and 57.65% in Rajouri. In Jammu District five model villages have been created by the Government, where as, only one in poonch and two model villages in Rajouri have been established. In Jammu among 30,000 household 29000 are getting electricity and 28000 are getting drinking water, where as in Rajouri and poonch among 60000, only 34000 are getting electricity and 22000 are getting drinking water. When allocation of District funds are considered Rajouri-Poonch get meager funds in comparison of the other Districts of the State. The regional disparity is also observed in employment opportunity as admitted by the former chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayyed in march 2005 in the assembly session indicating that total strength of the administrative officers is 3,032 out of which 1, 23 were from Rajouri and Poonch, In other categories of Government jobs the region is lagging behind in comparison of other districts of the State. In University of Jammu only three faculties, (one each in education, law and economics Department) one Library Assistant and one computer Assistance (on contractual basis) representing 8, 56,000 population of Rajouri and Poonch indicated in census 2001. Major causes behind the fact is the mass illiteracy, unawareness, orthodoxy, traditional and rigid caste system which leads to the intra regional caste conflict, poverty and backwardness of the community and ineffective political approaches, irrelevant developmental

Vol. 4, Issue 5

programmes and policies, insincere efforts of the Government and political leaders. SOLUTION AND IMPLICATION: The Government of Jammu and Kashmir has tried to mitigate the regional disparity by providing scheduled tribe status in 1991, to a section of the society and also granted reservation for backward areas. The provisions have created intra regional conflict between ignored and reserved sections; it has created another problem which is threat to the unity of the region as well as the State. Thus pick and choose approach for a particular section for the developmental process has not proved to be successful, as the whole region is socially, educationally and economically backward. Regional disparity is a major problem it can take ugly turn until it is handled properly at the gross root level, as the Rajouri and Poonch Districts are more sensitive from defense perspectives; it is in the interest of the national security to bridge the gap that has been created since a long time. Observed Socio-cultural and economic backwardness caused by regional disparity can be solved by the diversified and demographically relevant approaches of the State and Central Government as well as the united efforts of the political leaders and educated youths of the region successful and progressive policies and implications related to the economic development are functional only when both the providers and the recipients of the facilities and opportunities have the empirical knowledge of the thrust areas. Facilities can be managed but the target group (Recipient) requires large scale counseling related to the general awareness to avail the overall developmental opportunities. Thus, the foremost duty of the local educated youth and political leaders is to enlighten the illiterate and poor people about the pro-

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In focus The Microcosm of Pir Panchal

gressive way of life and utilization of their talent for the betterment. On the other hand the Government should provide loan facilities with reasonable rates and subsidies to the people of the region for the establishment of small scale as well as large scale industrial units. The whole region should be brought on the Map of national as well as international tourism on the pattern of valley of Kashmir, as these areas are also famous for their scenic beauty with the rich socio cultural heritage. The government of Jammu & Kashmir has provided subsidy to the poor for the improvement in Horticulture of the hilly areas but it should be further improved so that fruit industry particularly of Walnut, apple, apricot and almond etc, in the areas can be established that acquire the best market during the season. Training camps should be organized to impart technical training to the people related the trades by seeking the help of NGOs and experts of the relevant departments. The youths of the region should be encouraged to generate avenues of self employment. The establishment of various industrial units, Tourism Industry and fruit industry will generate new types of diversified jobs in the areas to improve economic condition. Regional equality can be maintained if the autonomous hill development council is provided for the region in the ambit of Rajouri-Poonch autonomous Hill development council, on Ladakh Pattern, it would be most effective approach for the development of the whole region. Hill area Development Programme was identified in 1965 by a Committee of NDC first phase area to be covered by WGDP (Western Ghat Development Programme) that was recommended in 1972 by the HLC set up for the purpose. After the formation of Uttarkhand (2000) the designated areas covered under HADP/WGDP are: Two

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Hill Districts of Assam (North Cachar and Karbi Anglong), Major part of Darjeeling District of West Bengal, Nilgiris District of Tamil Nadu, and 171 Talukas of WGDP comprising (63talukas) Maharashtra, (40) Karnataka,(32) Kerala, (33) Tamil Nadu and(03) Goa. In the developmental process of the Hilly areas Hon'ble Prime Minister remarked at the 54th meeting of NDC on 19th December 2007, as, “Many of the smaller hill States have raised problems unique to their geography. They have specific connectivity, transport and infrastructure problems. Norms applicable to the rest of the country are not easily relevant to them. I therefore propose to constitute a Task Force in the Planning Commission to specifically look into the problems of hill States and hill areas and suggest ways in which we can ensure that they do not suffer in any way because of their locational peculiarities.� In the light of the of above remarks the proposal for Autonomous Hill Development Council should be submitted for the consideration of the Government of India. The State government is well aware of the plight of the region it should make similar efforts that were made for District Kargil in 2003. More over political leaders should be sincere and active to achieve the target, the prevailing position is profoundly favourable as the J&k State has political influence in Union Cabinet with two Ministers having Strong political background. The concept of Hill development council fructified for the development of Leh district of ladakh in 1995, on the pattern of Darjeeling hill development council, it was established in Kargil district in July 2003, by the strong support of government of Jammu and Kashmir. Its aim is to register prompt monitoring of the developmental works, working plans made, taking public representative even at panches and surpanches

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level in to confidence by ensuring transparency and accountability in the focused areas, as it is going on in the Leh and Kargil districts of Ladakh region. Similar approach should be adopted for Rajouri and Poonch Districts of Jammu Region. This opportunity for the region will change the perceptions of discrimination among the people with respect to employment and promotions of career prospects especially because of higher level of development. It will accommodate the diverted youth who have been exploited. This role of the Center and State Government in influencing development and regional equality will gain the confidence of the people. At the end, it can thus be concluded that Rajouri and Poonch twin boarder Districts have their separate historical background with separate socio cultural identity and Muslim dominant caste ridden society, remain battle field of three indo Pak wars, different from any other area of the State in all aspects of social life. The region is the victim of backwardness, poverty, unemp l o y m e n t a n d i l l i t e r a c y. T h e Government efforts could not bring the region up to the mark of expected developmental equality with other regions of the State. The developmental balance is expected to be maintained by the provision of Rajouri-Poonch Autonomous Hill Development Council. This would be the most effective and democratic step for the eradication of all types regional imbalance. And especially the opportunities will accommodate and ensure the rehabilitation of the diverted youth. Projections 2010 Population Density/Sq. Km Rajouri

611927

233

Poonch

471797

282

J&K State 12843799

127

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The Microcosm of Pir Panchal

Pir Panchal Regional Festival Intergrating Rajouri and Poonch with the Mainstream D SUBA CHANDRAN AN IPCS REPORT

This essay focuses on two districts in the Jammu sub region of J&K—Rajouri and Poonch, along the Pir Panchal range of the outer Himalayas. The primary objective is to highlight the conflict transformation (both positive and negative) in this region during the recent years; to explore the opportunities of an Pir Panchal festival bringing the various communities together and build peace from below; integrate the border districts with the national mainstream.

I

dea of using a festival to promote tourism in J&K is not a new one; those who have witnessed the Ladakh festival, in all its colorful glory and culturally rich historical past, would agree how it has brought the region, its people and culture to the limelight. Of course, there are other places – from Dal lake to Gulmarg and from Bhaderwah to Basohli, which can easily boast the same – in terms of their rich culture, colorful people and beautiful places. The irony of J&K, however has been - there are numerous such regions in J&K, unfortunately remaining in the periphery, physically isolated and psychologically looking inward. Ladakh festival, now celebrated during August every year, attracts global attention and tourists who visit the land of moon, as it is popularly referred, to enjoy the culture, people and places. While Ladakh has its own set of loyal tourists, mostly with an adventurous streak; the Ladakh festival has expanded its tourism base, with an ever greater number from within J&K, elsewhere in India and across the world, especially Europe, visiting the region. For the last few years, there has been an

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ALONG THE MUGHAL ROAD : The Forts & Sarais of Chingus

increased emphasis on a Jammu festival as well. In 2007, the Jammu festival was celebrated for three days, which subsequently became a fortnightly festival, starting 2008. Although it attracted a huge crowd, especially since the performers at the festival came from all over the world, it remained confined to Jammu town. Bhaderwah, another region in J&K, also had its own festival recently. While none can deny the cultural and tourist importance of this beautiful valley; the festival seems to have been organized for the fact that it

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is the constituency of the former Chief Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad. The Pir Panchal region, consisting of Rajouri and Poonch districts has the potential to be promoted with a similar festival at an international level. Doda and Bhaderwah also are a part of this mountain range, but for the purpose of this essay, only these two districts are being concentrated. Besides the tourist potential of this region, there is also an essential strategic need for such a festival here (and in other border and interior districts of J&K).

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PIR PANCHAL REGION UNDERSTANDING THE STRATEGIC SIGNIFICANCE

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hile each district of J&K has its own unique history, culture, festivals and traditions (and in some cases, even language), the politics of violence and over emphasis on militancy within the state and New Delhi's obsession with Kashmir valley and J&K as a 'security state', unfortunately, have isolated the people and their proud culture in this region. Rajouri and Poonch districts, are located in one corner of the J&K, and the country as well. To get from Jammu to Poonch, it takes a back-breaking eight-hour journey in private operatorrun vehicles, most of which are tempo travelers or Tata sumos. Poonch is perhaps, one of the few district headquarters in the country, where the State Road Corporation runs only two services from the state capital. Like in many other districts, the JKSRTC does not have a depot either in Rajouri or in Poonch. A comparison with the neighbouring states of Punjab, Himachal and Haryana, would reveal the disastrous state of state-run buses The condition of the roads is relatively better today, with the road between Jammu and Rajouri being double-laned and metalled. The road between Rajouri and Poonch however, is still under renovation. Here, news papers get delivered only in the evening, electricity is erratic, and private mobile operators are yet to make a dent in the area. The BSNL communication network, when it works, and the Airtel are the people's only link with the rest of world. Television network is far behind reaching these districts; even if they do, there is no guarantee, that people can view them, for electricity is always a problem here. In fact, people are more tuned to listen to the imita-

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tions of Bollywood numbers being beamed from Radio Bagh for example, than from India! Thanks to the above, there is a feeling of helplessness amongst the local communities, that their interests and welfare have been taken for granted by the Union and State governments. There is a clear need for the State and Union governments to address this feeling, otherwise, it may end up creating

The Pir Panchal region, consisting of Rajouri and Poonch districts has the potential to be promoted with a similar festival at an international level. Doda and Bhaderwah also are a part of this mountain range, but for the purpose of this essay, only these two districts are being concentrated.

one more region within J&K, which feels alienated. Second, besides the alienation feeling, the political, and sociological importance of Rajouri and Poonch districts is important. Composed primarily of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, the population is diverse. Further divisions (the Gujjars, Bakerwals, Rajputs, PoK refugees, and ethnic Kashmiris), cutting across religious lines, make these two districts not only colourful, but on the flip side, also politically volatile. While these two districts are known for its communal harmony and peaceful co-existence, tremors of communal tensions have been felt in recent

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years. To their credit, Poonch and Rajouri have never witnessed the displacement of minority communities on a large scale, unlike what has happened in the Kashmir valley over the last two decades. While the Kashmiri Pandits felt insecure and were forced to leave the Valley and settle elsewhere as 'internal refugees'; there has never been a large scale displacement of the Hindus and Sikhs in Poonch and Rajouri. Today however, there are clear fault lines. While there have been no major communal riots between different religious communities in recent years, the tension is palpable. There is an increased feeling amongst the Muslim community that militant Hindu organizations such as the Bajrang Dal are trying to increase the communal cleavage in the region. The increase of religious yatris to the Buddha Amarnath shrine, situated at Mandi, a few kilometres away from Poonch town, is seen as a deliberate move to communalize the situation, by diverting the Amarnath yatris into this region. The recent torching of shops in Poonch during the Amarnath Shrine land allotment controversy is also viewed by the Muslim community as a Hindutva agenda to polarize the community along regional lines. On the other hand, the dominant perception, shared by the Hindus and Sikhs, is that since they are a silent minority, their sentiments are being taken for granted by the government, which is only interested in appeasing the Muslim community. Most of the developmental expenditure, the minority community complains, goes into addressing the concerns of the majority Muslims in these twin districts. One example, that repeatedly finds mention is that there is no degree college along

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the 40 km stretch of road between Nowshera and Rajouri, which is dotted primarily with Hindu community settlements, most of them PoK refugees. On the other hand, there are two degree colleges and a university along the 20 km stretch between Rajouri and Thana Mandi. In a communally sensitive situation, perceptions assume greater power and influence than the reality. Besides the communal divide, there is a slow, but strong divide taking root between the Paharis and Gujjars, especially since the time the latter were granted the status of a 'scheduled tribe' (ST). The Paharis (meaning 'people of the hills'), comprise a category of people, which cuts across religious lines. They feel that granting the ST status to the Gujjars has undermined their position and undercut their opportunities, as they believe that both, the Gujjars and Paharis come from the same geographic, social and economic terrain. The Paharis believe that with such a decision, the future of their forthcoming generations has been put at stake. Hence, they have also started demanding that the same status or its equivalent be granted to them. Whereas the Gujjars oppose any extension of this reservation to the Paharis. This simmering divide which is becoming more pronounced, could erupt at any time. Third, strategically, Rajouri and Poonch shares its borders with Pakistan occupied Kashmir and has witnessed the Indo-Pak wars of 1947, 1965 and 1971. The 1947 war, in fact, divided the erstwhile Poonch region into two; with most of its districts, including Rawlakot and Kotli, falling onto the other side of the Line of Control (LoC), under Pakistan's occupation. Today, Mendhar, Surankote and Poonch sub regions are three main arteries, that the militants use to cross over to Kashmir valley. Peace and stability in these two districts are absolutely vital for any long term solution to Kashmir valley. Though there is a boder fence today, it is not totally fool proof. Given the nature of topography, and the fact that no single barrier erected in the history of mankind has actually stopped the movement of determined human beings, LoC fence, is unlikely to be the solution. The way ahead, clearly is to keep these border districts safe, by making them peaceful.

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GETTING READY FOR THE CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION

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he rationale for the Pir Panchal international festival in these two districts stem from the following positive factors relating to conflict transformation in this region. While the strategic significance of this region and certain negative developments have been highlighted in the previous section, there have also been a few positive developments in the last few years. Given the fact that both, Rajouri and Poonch have largely gone unnoticed on the regional and certainly, on the national radars; these positive developments should be expanded further. At least two encouraging developments are worth mentioning – decline in militancy and greater cross-LoC movement of divided families. While militancy reached a peak in the late 1990s in this region, in the last few years, it has been gradually dying out, even if it is not already dead. There are presently, no or very few local recruitments. In most cases, the militants for the lack of local support, use these districts as a transit to Kashmir valley, across the Pir Panchal, than to stay here and indulge in violence. The security forces – both the army and local police have worked hard to bring the militancy down. Thanks to these factors, the people feel far more secure and relaxed, especially with a decrease in the regular gun and artillery fire from state and non-state actors – both overt and covert. Unlike few years ago, today, once could travel in any road, without any fear. Second, the opening of the Poonch-Rawlokot road to enable members of divided families visit each other, has opened the eyes and hearts of people living across the LoC, by breaking the numerous myths and false propaganda unleashed by state machineries on either side. People are now able to see for themselves what is really happening and can therefore, make their own assessments, based on their experience of realities at the ground level. This perhaps, has been the most remarkable development in the region in the last six decades. The above-mentioned developments need to be built on, and a Pir Panchal festival, as has been explained subsequently, can prove immensely helpful in this regard.

PIR PANCHAL FESTIVAL AS AN AGENT OF CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION & BUILDING PEACE FROM BELOW

H

ow to address the conflict transformation mentioned above? How to arrest the negative growths and strengthen the positive developments? How can an regional festival play a role in this? Creating Awareness about Rajouri and Poonch in the rest of J&K and India There is an unmistakable need to market this region to the rest of J&K, India and abroad and the proposed Pir Panchal international festival will precisely do this . Unfortunately, J&K is largely seen as synonymous

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with violence and conflict. Even if there is any discussion on terrorism—it is restricted to tourism in Leh, Dal lake and Gulmarg, or the pilgrimage to the Amarnath and Vaishno Devi shrines. While undoubtedly, places like Srinagar and Leh deserve the attention they receive; this should not undermine the capacity of other places like Bhaderwah, Kargil, Poonch and Basholi to attract and enthrall visitors. With a disproportionate focus on the former, the latter areas seem to have been abandoned by the tourists – whether those visiting for purposes of religion, pleasure, or adventure. Poonch and Rajouri abound with places of scenic beauty, and opportunities for trekking and other adventure-related activities, and also shrines and other places of religious importance. It would be pertinent to ask how many of the tourists who have visited other parts of J&K for adventurous and religious purposes, have toured Rajouri and Poonch districts? For example, while the numbers to the Vaishnodevi shrine, has substantially increased in the recent years, how many of them visited Rajouri and Poonch? If only these attractions were marketed well, then this region would not be thought of as a godforsaken place. Besides the tourists from outside J&K, it is unfortunate that there are not many even from within the state who has visited these regions. Many government employees – from teachers to tourist officials, who have been appointed in these districts, have been candid enough to accept that it was their first visit ever to these regions. Even after their posting however, many of them have admitted that till date their own family members, including spouses and children have not visited these places. A Pir Panchal festival, will bring to these culturally and religiously diverse

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and scenically splendid districts along the LoC, the publicity that they require and deserve. Once people from other parts of J&K and the rest of India start visiting, they are likely to act as brand ambassadors of Poonch and Rajouri, just as every visitor to Dal Lake and Ladakh does, bringing in an ever increasing number of visitors. More importantly, the rest of J&K will also understand more about Rajouri and Poonch. Bringing the Communities Together Second, the Pir Panchal festival is equally important from the perspective of cementing the ties between religious and ethnic communities. As shall be seen subsequently, the Pir Panchal festival will have to include the different cultures and religions that are cohabiting in this district. As mentioned above, there are fault lines within these societies, which have otherwise largely been peaceful and kept themselves away from violence. A secular Pir Panchal festival is likely to address this cleavage and remind the people of different faiths and denominations of the common history and rich cultural heritage their region is endowed with. During the maharaja's rule in the pre-1947 period, secular melas in the united Poonch were commonplace and helped emphasize the cultural diversity of the region and the need for the people to live together in harmony. Restoring the Past Glory Third, such a regional festival is likely to revive the historical and cultural ties that undivided Poonch enjoyed before 1947. Much before becoming the subjects of Poonch rajas – under independent rulers, or under the influence of Mughal or Sikh rule, the people of Rajouri and Poonch districts on the Indian side, had frequent and intense interactions with the people of Bagh, Haveli (as Poonch was

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referred then), Sudhanati, Kotli, and Bhimber districts of Kashmir under Pakistan control. In fact, “Azad Kashmir” and “Pakistan occupied Kashmir” are misnomers. Except for a few ethnic Kashmiris, mainly in Neelum and Muzaffarabad districts across the LoC, the rest of the people and districts have more in common with the people of Rajouri and Poonch. The fact, that there are more divided families in these two districts and that the Poonch-Rawlakot bus service is more famous that the UriMuzaffarabad bus, are reflections of the actual reality. Today, although the people of this region are divided by the LoC; before 1947, they celebrated their religious and secular festivals together. With the inauguration of the Poonch-Rawlakot bus service there has been considerable interaction between people on either side, especially amongst the divided families. The proposed Pir Panchal festival is likely to expand this interaction beyond divided families and attract people even from across the LoC to celebrate the festival. Already, those who have been visiting from across the LoC, have been taking part in or observing some of the secular events in India, such as its republic and independence day celebrations, and have also been attending some religious festivals that have taken place in numerous Sufi shrines in Poonch and Thana Mandi, near Rajouri. Attracting the Diaspora and Preventing Brain Drain Finally, such an international festival is likely to attract the diaspora of this region back to its roots and in the process, provide the much-needed exposure to the people of Rajouri and Poonch, besides arresting the brain drain. Before 1947, Poonch was the main center of learning and till date,

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the Poonchis are known for their high level of literacy within the region. Since 1947, especially since the wars in 1965 and 1971 and the establishment of the LoC, Poonch has been relegated to one corner of India, linked to the rest of world by just one road – Poonch to Jammu via Rajouri and Akhnoor. Earlier, the people of these two districts would interact with the people of Kashmir through the Poonch-Uri passage and the rest of Punjab mainly through the Poonch-Rawlakot, Mendhar-Kotli and Nowshera-Mirpur accesses. With the erstwhile Mughal road also having gone into complete disrepair, external connectivity for the people of this region became primitive and extremely difficult. Additionally, the failure of successive governments in J&K to provide better governance has resulted in the decline of the socio-economic standards within this region. As a result, many people from these regions are settled today in the rest of India and abroad Lack of adequate resources and opportunities in these two districts have also forced a brain drain from these two districts. Today, there are more well educated people from these two districts, living elsewhere, than from the region where they belong to. Except for a few dedicated and concerned noble souls, the rest have migrated for all practical purposes. An international festival, not only would revive the rich culture and provide its people, the much needed exposure, it will also arrest the brain drain and bring back a section of Diaspora and be a part of it again.

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PIR PANCHAL INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL: THE COMPONENTS

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hat should the proposed international festival include? What can be done immediately, without investing much, and what can be left for later, which might require long-term planning and greater investment? And who should lead it – the government or the civil society, or both? The last question is easy to answer. Such a festival should be a private-public partnership – for without the two, this initiative cannot be made as a long term success. While the top should assist, this initiative should essentially be a bottom up approach, where there is sufficient input and space for the civil society. Otherwise, one cannot discount the possibility of a government tamasha, depending on the ruling government's equations with those elected from the region. The nature of the proposed international festival could be both secular and religious – covering historical, archeological, anthropological, cultural and entertainment subjects. To start with, the Pir Panchal festival could be a five-day affair, with most of the activity concentrated mainly in Rajouri and Poonch towns. Subsequently, this can be extended to ten days or two weeks, covering other towns as well, including Mendhar, Surankot, Kalakot and perhaps even Bafliaz. The focus of this festival could be on the following: Shahdra Shrine and the Poonch Triumvirate Shahdra Shrine, near Rajouri town, undoubtedly is the most important sufi shrine of the entire J&K, promoting harmony and peace for several decades. The shrine of Baba Ghulam Shah, after whom, the local university is named after, is a symbol of hope and reverence for many people from different faiths – Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs. A clear torch bearer of Sufi Islam, this shrine is perhaps the greatest secular tradition, which every one should cherish and embrace. Besides the Shahdra Shrine near Rajouri, the Buddha Amarnath temple, Sai Miran Shrine and Nangali Sahib Gurudwara of the Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities, situated within a span of twenty kilometers near Poonch, is a symbol of religious harmony. No other region in J&K has such important places of worship belonging to three different communities, situated next to each other. Both Sain Miran and Nangali Sahib are located along the banks of the Drungali Nallah (rivulet); with Sain Miran perched atop a hill, close to the LoC, from where one can see the villages on the other side, and Nangali Saheb almost at the confluence of the Drungali Nallah and Poonch river. Besides their religious significance, both these places are also a visual treat for tourists. Budha Amarnath, on the other hand, is situated on the Loran Nullah, from where one can see the snow-clad Pir Panchal. One could start from Poonch town, offering early morning prayers at Budha Amarnath, visit Nangali Sahib in the noon, take part in the langar (community lunch) and spend the evening in Sain Miran and return to Poonch the same day. The Gujjar and Pahri Cultures For the sociologists and the anthropologists, there are two distinct cultures – Pahari and Gojri, each with its own folk songs, dances and literature. Unfortunately, these cultures are declining, as the patronage they earlier enjoyed has been withering away. While before 1947, the Mahrajas used to be the chief patrons of these cultures, post-1947, thanks to the neglect by the state and violence during the last two decades, these cultures no longer have the platform and space they deserve. There

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are numerous well-meaning people within the region, who are extremely concerned and enthusiastic about reviving their declining cultures. Mushiara, recital of Urudu poetry is another popular entertainment in these two districts, which is also popular in other parts of the State. Easily, a series of such events could be organized in five days in different towns of these two districts. The local police in the recent months have organized such events in Mendhar, Poonch, Surankote and Rajouri, which have been a huge success amongst the local civil society. Recently in 2009, the Cultural Academy of J&K along with local civil society organized a painting exhibition at the national level in Rajouri. Pahri paintings having a unique space, (though practiced mainly around Basholi) could be a part of this international festival. Wrestling, Stone Lifting, Trekking, Cycle Race and Pir Panchal Car Rally Recently during February-March 2010, the local police organized Volley ball matches, which were a huge successes in these two districts. Besides such well known sports and activities, this region has certain secular events, peculiar to this region, including wrestling, 'stone lifting' and 'wrist holding'. Though the state has supported some of these events as part of the region's rural sports culture, especially among the youth, these activities could become the highlight of the Pir Panchal festival. To attract participation from other regions of J&K and beyond, more events could be included in the fest. For example, a cycle race from Bafliaz to Dera-kiGhali (the highest point on PoonchBafliaz-Rajouri) road, or a trekking competition from Loran to Gulmarg across the Pir Panchal or even a race – cycle or motor – along the Mughal road from Bafliaz to Sophian, could attract people from all over the world. People from all

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THE POONCH TRIUMVIRATE : Shrines of Sai Miran

over Europe and Canada already come to Leh to cycle to Khardung La, a distance of 40 kms, and if promoted properly, one could expect a decent participation from these countries to take part in the proposed Pir Panchal festival. More importantly, a car rally, starting from Rajouri – taking the circuitous route to Mendhar and Poonch via Bhimber Galli can get back to the starting point and should be an interesting one. Once the most popular Mughal road is ready, there could be a car rally across the Pir Panchal – starting from Srinagar and ending up in Jammu via these two districts. Remnants of History: Chingus, Thanna Mandi, Noor-e-Chamb and the Mughal Road For those archaeologists and people interested in history and heritage, there could be no better place than the Chingus and the entire Mughal road in this region. The Mughal road, as the name suggests, is the road used by the Mughal rulers, to move from Agra to Srinagar via New Delhi and Lahore, before crossing Rajouri and the Pir

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Panchal. This road is dotted with sarais (inns) constructed by the Mughals to help their movement. While many of these sarais are in dilapidated condition or encroached, the forts in Chingus and Thanna Mandi before and after Rajouri in the Mughal road have tales of history. Chingus hosts the intestines of the Mughal emperor Jahangir, while Thanna Mandi is a treat to watch, especially the Queen's quarters and her bathroom. Noor-e-Chamb, situated in the Pir Panchal is a water falls, where the Queen Noor Jahan used to bathe. Besides, there are numerous huts across the Pir Panchal. The elders in this region also consider, much before the Mughals, other should have also taken this road. They even consider, that those who attended the Second Buddhist Council in Kashmir, during the period of Kushanas in first AD, should have gone via the road. Though this cannot be historically proved, it sounds logical. Perhaps, they traveled via Loran near Poonch. If true, then Mughal road, predating the Mughals, should be one of the oldest road in the country!

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THE FESTIVAL AHEAD

C

learly, the need for a Pir Panchal festival and its implications for the society and nation cannot be underestimated or overlooked. How does one pursue the matter further? What needs to be done at the societal and state levels? Budget and Funding Such a festival needs support from both the state and society. Clearly, the local society cannot organize such an event on its own. The direction and funding support will have to come from the State and Union governments, in the same manner that it has assisted the organization of the Ladakh and Jammu festivals. The same way, the government could not organize such an event, without the local support. There is a need for the private-public partnership. The civil society should also organize itself, than just complaining that the State has to do everything. Creating Necessary Infrastructure From travel to accommodation, there is a need to improve the basic infrastructure of the district. Intervention of the State is crucial in this sector, in terms of improving the connectivity and providing adequate facilities for people to move around, stay and take part. As mentioned above, the JKSRTC operates few services in this regions. There are hardly any accommodation facilities available; and given the current infrastructure, the district headquarters, may not be able to accommodate even 100 people in the government and private hotels and bun-

galows. The roads need to be developed urgently. Unfortunately, despite being a national highway, the Jammu-Poonch road is perhaps one of the worst roads in the entire country. Other access roads also need to be developed along with proper wayside amenities. It will be an impossible task to attract national and international tourists in the absence of such basic infrastructure. Imagine a 200 km plus highway, with a signboard that proudly declares “Welcome to the JammuPoonch national highway�, but is full of potholes and without any decent roadside restaurants and washrooms! Providing this basic infrastructure should be the joint responsibility of both, the state and union governments. Including Civil Society Actors Civil society actors can be called upon to help in organizing the events of the festival. Both, religious and secular civil society groups will be extremely interested in being part of the festival and will also have a stake in organizing it. The trusts of Shadra Sharief, Sai Miran, Nangali Sahib and Budha Amarnath, will be more than willing to

take part in such a festival. So will the cultural and business groups of the region. In terms of organizing the event, the local administration in Poonch or its tourism department can take the lead, with support from civil society actors and foundations. Pir Panchal Festival across the LoC At a later stage, when the governments are confident, they could even invite people from across the LoC; people across the LoC on the other side, share the same culture and history. In fact, it could become a great CBM in itself, if this festival is to be extended and celebrated simultaneously in Bhimber and Rawlokot as well, and the population moving across for a period of three to five days! Looking upto Omar and Jora All that is needed is a vision. With young and dynamic Chief Minister and Tourism Minister in the form of Omar Abdullah and Rigzin Jora, this should be a cake walk for them to organize. The entire region and the rest of India will be indebted to them, for taking such an initiative. Don't forget, 2010 is the year of tourism for J&K!

District Wise Handicrafts and Handloom Industrial Co-operative Societies (2005-06) District

No. of Societies

Percentage of Total

Membership (Nos)

Rajouri

80

3.45

6.44

Poonch

61

2.63

1387

J&K State

2318

26939

Registered Vehicles by District as on 31.3.2007 Name of the district

Buses

Mini-buses Trucks

Cars

Registered Vehicle Jeeps Tests 3-wheelers LD

2-wheelers

Others

Total vehicles

%age share

Vehicle Density No. of Regd. Vehicles per 100 sq km Lakh of of area population

Rajouri

9

151

92

231

38

106

194

2270

326

3517

0.62

134

622

Poonch

7

151

34

128

20

140

71

851

146

1548

0.27

92

355

100.0

Total J&K State 9077

13042

35598

112162

11222

14747

28614

320755

25091

570308

%age share

2.29

6.24

19.67

1.97

2.58

5.02

56.24

4.40

100.0

1.59

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563

4804

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In focus

The Microcosm of Pir Panchal MUGHAL ROAD:

The Charm of Rajouri, Poonch PIA MALHOTRA

O

ne of the most remarkable achievements of the ancient civilizations was the Silk Road. For the first time in the history of mankind, a road connected different countries and nations from the Mediterranean to the Pacific Ocean, combined their material, art and spiritual cultures. For many years, people interchanged handicrafts, goods, ideas and beliefs. By doing this, the road brought peoples from various countries closer to one another. The Silk Road was also known for the beautiful monuments along its route. Monuments such as Ichan-kola ensemble in Khiva, historical monuments of ancient Bukhara, Samarkand, Shakhrisabz, have acquired worldwide significance. Armenian and Georgian temples and monasteries are renowned for their grandeur. The Silk Road is today one of the most significant tourist sites as it brings mankind closer to the historical heritage of many nations who for thousands of years lived along this road. The World Tourist Organization has been implementing long-term tourist projects, aimed at promotion of tourism in this region. The road that was used by the Mughals in Jammu and Kashmir in the sixteenth century has the potential to endeavor for the same feat. Reviving this road can bring people within Jammu and Kashmir closer to one another besides connecting it to the rest of India. When the Mughals conquered Kashmir in 1586 AD they chose

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UNDER RECONSTRUCTION : The heritage Mughal Road across the Pir Panjal

the most feasible and shortest route to the Kashmir Valley passing through Bufliaz-Shopian, now known as the Mughal road. The Mughal emperors used this road to conquer Kashmir during the sixteenth century. Akbar used this route to conquer Kashmir in 1586. The road extends between Bafliaz, a town in the Poonch district, to Shopian of Pulwama district in the Kashmir valley. The road is 84kms long and situated in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India. It passes over Pir Panchal mountain range. The road brings the Poonch and Rajouri districts closer to Srinagar in Kashmir valley. This makes for an alternate road route to Kashmir valley from the rest of India, other than the highly crowded

Vol. 4, Issue 5

Jammu-Srinagar Highway through the Banihal Tunnel. The road passes through Buffliaz, Poshana, Chattapani, Peer Ki Gali, Aliabad, Zaznar, Dubjan, Heerpora and Shopian. The Mughals constructed various monuments on this road, which are present to date. In Chingus in Rajouri, Emperor Jahangir died during his return from Kashmir and his body was kept at a fort at the place. They built a rest house on this road, which still exists at Muradapora. There was another rest house at Nayn Sukh (Fatehpur), a grand Sarai at Thanamandi and a terrace at Noori Chamb water falls, named after Jahangir's wife, Noor Jahan. A grand rest house was constructed at the moun-

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In focus The Microcosm of Pir Panchal

tainous peak at Chandimarh on the Mughal road, which still stands there. Besides, numerous smaller rest houses were built at Alyabad, Ziarat of Peer Baba at Pir-ki-Gali, Dubjian, near the Sculptures springs. There is also a rest house, which is now dilapidated in Heerapura in Shopian. The new road was proposed in the 1950's for improving the economy of Poonch and Rajouri. Chief Minister Sheikh Abdullah had taken up this project in 1979 and named it “Mughal Road”, but it came to a halt as militancy took over. Similarly, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed of the Jammu and Kashmir People's Democratic Party, was interested in the culmination of the project. The actual process of construction was started by him and he laid the foundation stone for the Mughal road. The construction of the road was started in 2005 to be completed by 2010. It is proposed to be open to traffic by summer of this year for light vehicles. Initially, there was opposition to the construction of the road because it would fragment the wildlife. It was also claimed that the road would get early snow in winter and would be not be operational. The Mughal road has numerous historical monuments and forts on its route. These constructions have immense historical value and are also extremely beautiful. Unfortunately, most of these buildings have just been ignored by the government and are lying ramshackle in the state. If the government develops these buildings along the Mughal road, it will create much needed tourism and economic development in the state. It will additionally make for a very beautiful and scenic drive! ChandiMarh; one of the scenic stops on the Mughal Road in the Pir Panjar Mountains and verdant woodlands. A grand Mughal Serai still stands here at the pass through this mountain

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range of Pir Panjar. Alliabad; the site of a small rest house, one of the many built for travelers on this scenic road. Khampur; one of the three Sarais being protected and looked after by the centre through the Archaeological Survey of India. Chingus; a place on the Mughal road where Emperor Jehangir is supposed to have died on his way back from Kashmir. His body (his intestines) was kept in a fort near this place. The Chingus fort was built with an exclusive room for the King and the Queen. The fort also had separate areas where the King could address a public audience and a private audience. It is believed

The Mughal road has the potential to improve connectivity among the various regions in Jammu and Kashmir besides connecting Kashmir to the rest of India. Political parties and people belonging to all sections of society have been demanding the opening of the Mughal road that the doctor who operated on the Emperor was also buried at the same spot. The fort is an extensive construction with a massive dome like structure as the main entrance. Once inside the fort, one is surrounded by a thick brickwall enclosure. The fort was supposed to cater to the king's large armies and cavalry and has numerous stables and feeding rooms inside the brick walls. The fort was built along the river bank and the Mughal road runs behind the fort. The government, in its attempt to promote tourism in the place, had constructed tourist huts, where people could come and stay, but unfortunately, the fort itself is now in a dilapidated condition. It was initially under the counter-insurgency forces and at that time,

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it was in a better condition, but since the forces evacuated, the place has become ramshackle. Noori Chamb; this place was named after Jehangir's wife, Noor Jehan who used to visit this place frequently. The place is essentially a waterfall which is surrounded by beautiful terraced gardens. The waterfalls itself are not very easily accessible, as they are neatly tucked away, almost in a cave, away from all the roads and one has to trek down to the spot. It has a very peaceful and verdant look to it. The place, being hidden from view, has not been frequented very often, and hence has a very pristine look to it. Thanna Mandi Sarai; The Mughals used to stay here during their journey from Delhi to Kashmir and vice versa. Thannamandi is significant because a severe conflict took place here between Shahi Khan (Zain-ul-Aabdeen) and his brother Sultan Ali Shah of Kashmir. This battle for Kashmir, which was fought at Thannamandi, decided the fate of Sultan Ali Shah who was killed and Shahi Khan who after defeating his brother at Thanna ascended to throne of Kashmir in 1420 AD under the title of “Sultan Zain-ul-Aabdeen-Badshah”. On the orders of the Mughal emperor Jehangir, a big Sarai of red bricks was constructed here. Jehangir had visited this place about 13 times. This Sarai has now been captured by the security forces to combat militancy in the area. The forces have made rooms and washrooms inside the Sarai, which is unfortunate, as the place is just slowly languishing. There are also some temples of Dogra's period that are in a decrepit state now. This place is also known for its “Chikhri” wood craft. The main significance of the place, however, is the shrine Shah Dara Sharif, the shrine of Baba Ghulam Shah which attracts followers from all over India. The shrine

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In focus The Microcosm of Pir Panchal

dates back to the 19th century. It is believed that Gulab Singh, once the army general of Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab, got this shrine constructed. It is believed that Gulab Singh had gone to meet Baba Ghulam Shah, who had predicted that he would have a huge territory, including the place that they were meeting at. In time, his prediction came true and Gulab Singh became the Maharaja of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. When Gulab Singh went back to thank Baba Ghulam Shah, he had already left. Gulab Singh, then decided to get a shrine,the Shah Dara Sharif constructed at that place. The shrine is visited by Hindus, Muslims and Christians. There is also a belief that an orange tree in this shrine contains the potential to cure people of many skin ailments. Peer ki Gali This is one of the high altitude points on the Mughal road. The

altitude here is 11460 feet in comparison with 5412feet at Bufliaz its starting point. In fact there is a proposal to dig a tunnel between Zaznar and Ratachamb, which will significantly shorten the distance bypassing Peer ki Gali, and making the road more dependable during bad weather. Light vehicles have already started using this prestigious road on a trial basis and the completion of the double laning will change the future tourism and economic prospects of the State. Besides, it will serve as a great way of connecting the various areas within Jammu and Kashmir. The Mughal road has the potential to improve connectivity among the various regions in Jammu and Kashmir besides connecting Kashmir to the rest of India. Political parties and people belonging to all sections of society have been demanding the opening of the

Mughal road and the Jammu-Poonch road link. The government of India should promote this project as it will promote interaction across the LoC, besides promoting trade. The old Mughal road connecting LahoreBhimber-Nowshera-Bufliaz-Shopian can be re-opened by converting it into a four-lane project to foster friendship between India and Pakistan. One of the ways to connect Jammu and Kashmir to the rest of the world is through development and economic progress. Increasing connectivity and developing the Mughal road is the simplest way of achieving this. The government should revive the old monuments and forts built by the Mughals, on the Mughal road. This will enhance the beauty of the road and encourage more tourism and hence more economic development to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Live Stock Population by Districts 1997 and 2003 (P) S.No.

District

Live Stock Lakh Nos. 2003 %age 1997

Increase/Decrease (%age) over 1997

Live Stock (2003) per Sq. Km of area (No)

Average Live stock 2003 per household 2001 census (No)

1

Rajouri

11.811

11.93

7.514

57.19

449

15

2

Poonch

8.108

8.19

4.906

65.27

484

14

J&K State

98.993

100.00

91.751

7.89

98

6

Year

No. of Policies

District profile of LIC for the year 2005-06 and 2006-07 District

Valley

Rajouri

Poonch

Sum Assured (Crore Rs.)

First Year Premium (lakh Rs.)

Average sum assured per policy (000 Rs.)

Percentage contribution Policies Sum Assured

2005-06

40976

350.05

4461.24

85.43

32.16

35.24

2006-07

54331

444.21

10263.52

81.76

31.90

36.63

2005-06

6942

48.25

877.24

69.50

5.45

4.86

2006-07

9289

42.05

2484.70

45.27

5.45

3.47

2005-06

3195

21.50

417.72

67.29

2.51

2.16

2006-07

3814

17.36

917.98

45.52

2.24

1.43

Jammu

2005-06

86433

643.34

10495.45

74.43

67.84

64.76

Division

2006-07

115991

768.48

23217.87

66.25

68.10

63.37

J&K State 2005-06

127409

993.39

14956.69

77.97

100.00

100.00

2006-07

170322

1212.68

33481.39

71.20

100.00

1000.00

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Vol. 4, Issue 5

Percentage Growth Policies

Sum Assured

Ist year Premium

32.59

26.90

130.06

33.81

-12.85

183.24

19.37

-19.26

119.76

34.20

19.45

121.22

33.68

22.07

123.86

Epilogue, May 2010


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In focus

The Microcosm of Pir Panchal

Biodiversity, High Altitude Wetlands PANKAJ CHANDAN

P

ir Panchal Range in Rajouri and Poonch districts of Jammu and Kashmir is a unique landscape bestowed with matchless high altitude wetlands and Biodiversity. The high altitude wetlands in Pir Panchal range besides supporting the livelihood of nomadic communities of Gujjars and Bakerwals are also the habitat of the rare and endangered species of wildlife. Many rare and endemic species of the medicinal plants are also found in the area. The lower slopes in the range have thick growth of Pine and Deodar trees. If we move further up some higher slopes in the Pir Panchal pass have very good patches of Junipers as well. Also in the higher reaches there are vast open meadows commonly known as murgs and these are used by nomadic graziers during summer months.

WHITE BACKED VULTURE at Pir Ki Gali near Mughal Road.

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The nomads in the areas are using the high pastures in the Pir Panchal Range since ages. Nomadic pastoralism as a way of life developed relatively late in human history, arising only about 9,000 – 10,000 years ago in Southwest Asia at roughly the same time as agriculture. The earliest nomadic pastoralists lived in Southwest Asia, herding mostly sheep and goats. Slightly latter, there is evidence in south Asia of sizable cattleherding culture. Pir Panchal nomads represent one of the great examples of the nomadic pastoral way of life once common in many regions of the world. With its varying altitudinal range, Pir Panchal Range has a good diversity of birds as well as mammals. In fact altitude is the main factor which determines the distribution of various unique species of flora and fauna in the region.

The key species of birds found in the area are Common Buzzard, Monal Pheasant, Cheer Pheasant, Golden Eagle, White Backed Vulture, Pintails, Mallard, Paradise flycatcher, Treepie and many other rare and important species of migratory birds which use high altitude wetlands of Pir Panchal as transit points during migration on the Indus flyway. The key mammal species found in the region are Markhor Goat, Musk Deer, Barking Deer, Black Bear, Leopard Cat, Rhesus Macaque, Indian Porcupine etc. Like other parts of the Himalaya, this region also has a huge number of medical plants which are being used to prepare traditional medicines since time immemorial. The important medicinal plants recorded from this r e g i o n a r e R h o d i o l a , R h e u m,

DESTRUCTION of a patch of Junipers as a result of construction of Mughal Road.

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Epilogue, May 2010


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In focus The Microcosm of Pir Panchal

Tanacetum, Meconopsis, Dracocephalum, Aconitum etc. This region has some very pristine high altitude wetlands. Almost all the high altitude wetlands in Pir Panchal range are glacial fed freshwater bodies which feed water into the small rivers originating from the region. At resent WWF is carrying out the scientific documentation of the 27 high altitude wetlands in the Pir Panchal range. The scientific documentation involves studies on the flora, fauna and water quality of these wetlands. At the same time the various threats to these wetlands especially the emerging threat of climate change is also being documented. Some key high altitude wetlands where WWF is presently conducting the scientific studies are Nandan Sar , Katoria Sar, Chandan Sar, Koker Sar, Neel Sar, Ding Sar, Sukh Sar, Simar Sar, Akal Dakshini and Bhag Sar. At present the key threat to these wetlands is tremendous grazing pressure as a result of the livestock owned by nomads. In some wetlands like Neel Sar and Bhag Sar the problem of eutrophication as a result of the nutrients entering to these lakes from the nearby nomadic camps has also been documented.

Katori Sar

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The revival and construction of the five century old Mughal road will open up this remote area to further development. If proper management and conservation measures are not taken in time then these high altitude water bodies and the unique wildlife of the area

Some key high altitude wetlands where WWF is presently conducting the scientific studies are Nandan Sar , Katoria Sar, Chandan Sar, Koker Sar, Neel Sar, Ding Sar, Sukh Sar, Simar Sar, Akal Dakshini and Bhag Sar.

will face a serious threat. At present the work on the construction of Mughal Raod is in full swing and this has led to huge impact on the fragile ecology of the region. This 84 Km road will connect Bafliaz area of Poonch district with Kasmir region and will serve as an alternate road between Jammu and Kashmir regions. It is also believed that this will

be a all weather road and will be less prone to land slides. Before the road construction activities started, this region used to be the most pristine area of the state. There is no doubt that development is must but at the same time we need to ensure that this development should have minimum impact on the ecology of the region. For this it is vital that a sustainable tourism action plan must be prepared before these fragile areas and especially the wetlands of Pir Panchal range are thrown open for tourism activities. The primary objective of this plan should be to manage the ecosystem of the area. Keeping in mind the importance of the area for its various wildlife species and high altitude wetlands, the entire region has also been proposed as a Pir Panchal National Park. It is important that more and more research studies about the lesser known wildlife of the area should be initiated. For long term conservation of the region all the stakeholders in the area should be involved in the conservation process. A major education and awareness campaign also need to be initiated and common masses should be made aware about the unique flora and fauna of the region and need for its conservation.

RODIOLA imbricata a medicinal plant near Nandan Sar.

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Epilogue, May 2010


41

column

Governance

Strengthen RTI to Right the Wrongs M SHAMSUR RABB KHAN

T

wo recent information retrieved by Right to Information (RTI) Act activists suffice to the serious holes in the functioning of two different government departments: PWD in Ranchi and Special Cell of the Delhi Police. Against his application, seeking to know the reason for an inordinate delay in laying a metalled road to a village in his district, Sunil Kumar Mahto, a Ranchi-based RTI activist, received a shocking reply. In writing, the Public Information Officer (PIO) of PWD, Ranchi provided the documents that clearly stated that the road had been laid two years ago and that a total of Rs 28 lakh was spent on the project, albeit in actuality no work was done. Mahto went on to file more RTI applications to unmask the officials responsible for the sheer irregularities and was able to know the government officials, who embezzled the money meant for public welfare. Among them, a few officials were suspended, while cases against others are in the process. Another daring RTI activist, Firoz Alam Sahil of New Delhi, after a sustained efforts and painful wait of 18 months, was able to obtain the autopsy report of the two suspected terrorists – Atif and Sajid – who were gunned down in the Batla House encounter in September 2008. As in the case of road construction project in Ranchi, the autopsy report, received on March 17, 2010, conclusively establishes the fact that none of the two received any bullet

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entry wound on the frontal part of their bodies. While Atif received all gun shot wounds on his back, Sajid was pumped bullets on the upper portion of his head. A close examination of the autopsy report only suggests that none of them were killed in 'combat' position', as normally happens in fierce encounter. The highly secretive report, which the Special Cell of the Delhi Police refused to make public despite repeated demands by civil society groups further strengthens the barrage of uncanny questions raised from all quarters challenging the authenticity of the Batla House encounter in which the two youngsters from Azamgarh, along with Special Cell cop MC Sharma, were killed. The efforts of Mahto, Sahil and hundreds of other activists across the country are surely creating an environment towards better governance via unearthing the official misdemeanours as well as helping the people to benefit from the Right to Information Act, 2005. Not only RTI Act has helped people in sending a strong message to the politicians as well as the officials that they are entrusted with task of dispensing their duties with utmost integrity, but it has also prompted people to campaign across the length and breadth of the country to curb corruption, which is eating away the very objective of people's welfare through countless programmes and schemes being implemented by the government. However, the recent move

Vol. 4, Issue 5

by the Central Government to go for a few crucial amendments to the RTI Act could seriously limit the people's power to hold government functionaries accountable for their actions. The proposed amendments that the government is considering to put in place include refusal of “frivolous or vexatious” applications, non-disclosure of “discussions/consultations that take place before arriving at a decision”, i.e. file notings. The proposed amendments in the RTI Act being considered also include the need to exempt the office of Chief Justice of India from the purview of the RTI Act, as upheld by the Delhi High Court in its ruling this January. There was news about Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi having exchanged correspondence on the issue: while Mrs. Gandhi favoured status quo, PM wanted some crucial changes. In her address to the Parliament in June 2009, President Pratibha Patil had assured that the government would strengthen the RTI Act, analysts are of the view that the proposed amendments, in the name of strengthening the Act, would only weaken the law and reduce transparency. Quite recently, Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Wajahat Habibullah, too, pointed out the consensus of the Commissioners according to which there is no need to bring about amendments in the existing laws. However, voices in favour of amendments have gained ground since the sheer inability of the bureaucracy to

Epilogue, May 2010


42

Column Governance

handle the pressure from citizens filing RTI applications. Moreover, government officials have felt the heat of being held accountable for their actions, and that they are not secured by law anymore to hide that they had been doing for decades. While the “increase in the number of RTI applications and appeals r e v e a l t h e g r o w i n g a s p i r ations/expectations of the common citizens from the Lok Sabha”, as noted in the Status Report from the Secretary General-Lok Sabha, the government officials, who leave no stone unturned in maintaining secrecy over their deeds and misdeeds, find the Act as the greatest means of their exposure. Coming to the proposed amendment related to Section 8 of the RTI Act that deals with “exemption from disclosure of information”, the government is very much keen to add to this Section the “discussions/consultations that take place before arriving at a decision”, or 'file notings'. Since government officials are reluctant to register their frank opinion while passing or rejecting a file because they are aware of the fact that some dedicated activists can access it in the future, they want the 'file notings' to be exempted from the purview of the RTI Act. If we believe that those opposing the amendments claim that it is only the corrupt who would benefit if 'file notings' were exempted from RTI Act, then why would an upright officer fear anything, and why would the government pay heed to the opinions of such bureaucrats? And since it is through 'file notings' that corrupt officials can be unmask, amendment to it can make the RTI Act a toothless tiger. The sheer reluctance of officials in procuring sought after request, or deliberate delay in providing asked information shows that those in the helm of affairs do not like the people to be aware of their working. The signifi-

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cance of file notings can be gauged from the fact that it could save millions of rupees staked in numerous schemes for India's development. For example, the high cost electricity agreement between Dhabol Power Company (Enron) and the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB), which guaranteed by the Maharashtra Government and Government of India, was not an ideal, and which saw massive protests from local people. In April 1993, the World Bank questioned the project's economic feasibility, citing the high cost of

In her address to the Parliament in June 2009, President Pratibha Patil had assured that the government would strengthen the RTI Act, analysts are of the view that the proposed amendments, in the name of strengthening the Act, would only weaken the law and reduce transparency.

importing and using liquefied natural gas (LPG) compared to other domestic sources of fuels. Why did this happen? Because the terms of agreement were kept secret and were not made public in spite of the repeated demands from NGOs and activists in Maharashtra, the officials, particularly the police was accused of high-handedness with protestors, who smelled foul play. It proves that right to vital information that are hidden in invisible folds of file notings must be known to the people. In a healthy democracy, it is highly imperative that the decisions taken by the Cabinet should be known to the people except the information that are sensitive and security-related issues. Deliberate hiding of information not

Vol. 4, Issue 5

only puts the government in quandary but takes away the right of the people, who must be made the part of all issues that are significant for the welfare of the country. Except for security interests, privacy issues, and trade related rights, no other information needs to be kept secret since the information is generated for the people. In principle, a file in public authority is not compilation of documents containing trade secret or a copyright material, but it is the statistical data, opinions, precedents, pros and cons and the economic cost to the public exchequer meant to develop people's welfare or directed to answer the possible public demand. Furthermore, the information contained in the file notings is not personal property of the government officials, who express their legally-bounded opinions that are based on the project proceeding, outcome and overall performance that could used for future assessment. It is not the property of the incumbent government either. In a working democracy, government representatives are liable to the people; therefore, if the Cabinet, on any important issue of public interest, ends without reaching any viable decision, then it should reveal the reasons for it. In place of keeping the people in the dark, the Cabinet should come out with complete proceeding, which includes the references of different opinions given by various ministers on vital issue related to the welfare and development of the people. Examples of other countries such UK, US and Australia are sufficient to prove that file notings are not exempted from the public access. In our country, this has also been the tradition in case of both the Judiciary and Parliament that continue to function openly and without any adverse effects. But, it is the bureaucracy that presently functions under the obdurate veil of

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column Governance

secrecy. Hence, any move to amend RTI directed to delete file notings from the public domain would mean a retrograde measure, which would only be aimed at bureaucracy appeasement. And it is quite clear that by such a backward measure, the government would help the officials, who are the ultimate beneficiaries if they are left to maintain secrecy. Also, it would a serious denial of rights to the people of their own information. The other proposed amendment is related to the rejection of “frivolous and vexatious” applications. This is nothing but an official trick to reject the applications under the RTI Act outright at the outset. In this regard, the 2nd A d m i n i s t r a t i v e a n d Re f o r m s Commission (ARC), 2005 suggests an amendment to Section 7 of the RTI Act by inserting sub-section (10) that states: “PIO may refuse a request for information if the request is manifestly frivolous or vexatious, provided that such a refusal shall be communicated within 15 days of receipt of application, with the prior approval of the appellate authority.” No doubt, addressing a large number of applications does amount to a waste of government resources. But to allow PIOs the right to label an application “frivolous and vexatious” may lead to gross misuse of the clause. Since PIOs have been found rejecting a good number of petitions on this ground, any further amendment would embolden them to reject many more applications, which may not be quite so “irrelevant or frivolous.” For example, if a worker under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) files application to know the exact amount of wages due for him could be interpreted as “frivolous” by a PIO, but, in actuality, it is not. In case of an amendment that requires any rejection by the PIO on “frivolous” grounds can be appealed to

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the CIC, it would surely lead to the CIC being flooded with an unmanageable number of petitions. However, the most hotly debated amendment to RTI Act relates to the judiciary. Why should the judiciary, especially the office of Chief Justice of India be exempted from the ambit of the Act? Why oppose to induce accountability in a non-accountable judicial system? There is an element of surprise here. When the Delhi High Court rejected the Supreme Court's plea to exempt the Chief Justice of India's

Examples of other countries such UK, US and Australia are sufficient to prove that file notings are not exempted from the public access. In our country, this has also been the tradition in case of both the Judiciary and Parliament that continue to function openly and without any adverse effects.

office from the RTI Act, the Supreme Court has appealed to itself and an order is expected soon! By and large, all stakeholders – from the Supreme Court of India to the common man – must understand that Act is still young rather a perfect legal provision and its implications are yet to be understood by government officials. What is needed is the full implementation of the Act in its present form. The Act, it must be understood, is not directed against officials for setting personal scores, but it is a healthy tool to put in place good governance through transparency and accountability, and right to the people to know how the officials work, is the backbone of healthy democracy. We can assess its implications only after the Act

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is sincerely implemented. If the UPA government is indeed serious about making some changes to the Act, it should repeal Sections 27 and 28 of the Act that give the “power to make rules by appropriate government”, and should make the law uniform for all states and public authorities. For instance, many states and public authorities, till date, have drafted their own RTI rules which are contrary to the basic sections of the Act itself. While the government has made it clear that it would consult all stakeholders before making any amendments to the RTI Act, the impending appeal to the Supreme Court by itself holds the key in this regard. We must, therefore, know that the promotion of accountability and transparency in the working of the public authorities, which is the stated objective of the RTI Act, does not stop merely with revealing the government's decisions to the public, but it also demands that the government makes it possible for the people to know the grounds on which important decisions were taken. It is against the idea of people's empowerment that they are denied the right to have access to file notings by officials, and thereby, keeping them at bay so that they could not evaluate the process of decision-making. We must acknowledge the services of Satish Shetty, an RTI activist killed mysteriously in January this year in Pune, Sunil Kuma Mahto and Firoz Alam Sahil, along with hundreds of others across the country, who are working tirelessly to enhance good governance via exposing the misdemeanours of the officials and helping induce transparency and accountability in the system. Finally, if we want to save those in authority from further going down into the quagmire of corrupt practices and people from being made constant victims, we need to have the RTI Act in place as it is.

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exclusive series

New Research on Kashmir HENRY SCOTT

The Forgotten Soldier of Kashmir RAKESH ANKIT

Chief of Staff, Jammu and Kashmir Forces, between 1936 and 1947, Brigadier Henry Lawrence Scott, in his note on 'options in 1947' says that theoretically there were three options for Maharaja Hari Singh and his Prime Minister Rai Bahadur Ram Chandra Kak: accession to India; to Pakistan and independence. He confirms that constitutionally, Hari Singh was empowered to make the decision

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rigadier (Sir) Henry Lawrence Scott Kt, CB, DSO, Bar, MC was born in 1882 and died aged 89 in 1971. He was commissioned in the British Indian Army in 1903 and served in Mesopotamia during the Great War of 1914-18. After returning to India, he was appointed as Instructor, Senior Officer's School from 1921 to 1923 and rose to become the Quarter-Master General between 1929 and 1931. He commanded the strategically significant Kohat Brigade from 1932 to 1935 and was made ADC to King George V (1910-1936) in 1934-35. In 1936, Scott began his eleven-years long employment as the Chief of Staff, Jammu and Kashmir State Forces, which was due to end in November 1947. In the summer of 1947, he was invited, as in the past, to stay on for another year. He asked for time to consider this and eventually decided, in view of the developments described below, that he would prefer not to accept an extension. He informed His Highness Maharaja Hari Singh and accordingly his resignation was accepted. He left Kashmir on 29 September 1947 and gave a final report on 8 October 1947 about “the situation in J & K State”. Simultaneously, he also left a note on “the options in 1947”.

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Scott served under Kak for 5 years (1942-47), first when Kak was Ministerin-Waiting and then when he became Prime Minister. He enjoyed close relations with Kak and agreed 'entirely' with Kak's view 'that Kashmir should remain on friendly terms with both India and Pakistan and must, for economic reasons and because 85% of the population if Muslim, have close relations with Pakistan'. Scott charges that over the months of July-August 1947, Hari Singh increasingly came under the influence of the Deputy Prime Minister Rai Bahadur M. M. Batra, a Hindu Swami, who had great influence with the Maharani, and the Maharani's brother, Chand, who was appointed the “Household Minister”. While the copies of the former report is available in The National Archives of Her Majesty's Government, Kew Gardens (Richmond, Surrey) – in file series DO 142 and FO 371; the latter note – MSS Eur D 862 – can be consulted from among the files at the Oriental and India Office Collections, British Library, London. Let us begin with “the options in 1947” which has a broad sweep of personalities and politics. Scott begins pre-

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dictably enough, that theoretically, in 1947 there were three options for Maharaja Hari Singh and his Prime Minister Rai Bahadur Ram Chandra Kak: accession to India; to Pakistan and independence. He confirms that constitutionally, Hari Singh was empowered to make the decision. Unlike Lord Mountbatten, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sheikh Abdullah and subsequently many historians, Scott does not merely repeat the feeling that had Hari Singh been pragmatic, urgent and decisive over July-October 1947 subsequent events could have been avoided but seeks to explain it. He gives two reasons for the Maharaja preferring the comparative autonomous peace of his realms: a) his historical and zealous guarding of 'state laws' against any form of closer integration with British India which – in August 1947 – extended with equal force to India and Pakistan; and, b) his horror at the unfolding of postindependence partition, migration and massacre in Punjab which saw 100, 000 people regularly passing through Jammu towards either side. Scott now proceeds to analyse the three above-mentioned options and begins by giving the reasons which made accession to India an unattractive

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option for Hari Singh. He lists 'the fear of economic domination; Nehru and the Indian National Congress' history of being, [generally], anti-princely state rulers and, [in particular], anti-Hari Singh as they were pro-Sheikh Abdullah, also Nehru had been refused a visit [thus] exacerbating animosity; accession to India would have reduced Hari Singh's [personal] powers and privileges; atleast 80% of his subjects were Muslims and while [the] Sheikh had a following in the valley of Kashmir; in western Jammu, Poonch, Gilgit, [and] Muzaffarabad, a move to India would not have been acceptable; and, in the Gilgit agency, [in particular], were the Gilgit Scouts (under the command of Major Brown, a British officer lent by the Crown Representative, recently taken over from the Government of India) upon whose loyalty to the state under this particular issue, no reliance could be placed'. In comparison, to Scott's mind, accession to Pakistan offered many advantages. 'The very great majority of State subjects were Moslems closely connected by religion and race with the Moslems of the Punjab. It was obvious that the Moslem League would use all its great influence with the Government of Pakistan to persuade the latter to take action to ensure the union of atleast Poonch and Gilgit to Pakistan. Failing Government's action the Moslem League

Scott's final report in his capacity as the Chief of Staff of Jammu and Kashmir State Forces, dated 8 October 1947, is a different, rather detailed, affair. It has five sections and they represent the entire spectrum of the concerns and the interests at play in Jammu and Kashmir over the summer and autumn of 1947

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was more than likely itself to take such action. The economies of the state and of the [West] Punjab were closely integrated. The principal land communications of the state with the outside world passed through Pakistan. The prosperity of the agriculture of the Western Punjab is dependent on the waters of two of the great rivers of the state, the Jhelum and the Chinab (sic.). It was most unlikely, to say the least, that Pakistan would permit, without a struggle, the headworks of these great canal systems to pass into the control of India or even probably of an independent J & K State. The principal source of the State government's income derived from the sale of timber felled in the State forests and floated down the Jhelum and Chinab rivers for sale in the Punjab'. But Scott understood that the idea of union with 'Moslem Pakistan was most repugnant to the Maharaja and his Hindu and Sikh subjects on religious grounds. It was on the support of the Hindu Rajput subjects that the throne of the State had rested since its birth. Accession to Pakistan it was thought also would result quickly in the massacre and expulsion from the State of the Hindu and Sikh inhabitants, as indeed

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most probably it would have. In the opinion of the Maharaja and his Hindu and Sikh subjects these objections far outweighed the advantages of accession'. As for the third, improbable, option of independence, according to Scott, Hari Singh and Kak laboured for it 'until the dismissal of the latter [11 August 1947] and the great raid of October 1947 put an end to the dream. It was hoped that the Stand Still Agreements concluded with both India and Pakistan would ensure a peaceful passage from British suzerainty to independence. They hoped to maintain a reasonable degree of peace and good order within the State in spite of the happenings in India and Pakistan. It was hoped that if the State were but able to ride without disaster through the period of revolutionary strife disturbing the two Dominions, the position and policy would be capable of calm discussion and consideration and, if then desirable, revision'. Scott then points out the two factors which, above all else, 'rendered hopes of securing and maintaining the independence of the State illusionary. First, the widespread disturbances and consequent rupture of the communica-

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tions of Pakistan and India had put an end to the sales of State timber in [ We s t ] P u n j a b . M o r e o v e r, t h e Government of Pakistan urged by the Moslem League and with a view to applying pressure on the State had placed an embargo on those sales. By the autumn the State was really bankrupt though it managed to scrape along by internal borrowings and other expedients that could not have served for many months and certainly would not have financed serious military operations even on the State scale. Second, the other factor was the military situation which was precarious in the extreme. J & K State covered an area approximately as large as France…Throughout August-October 1947 State forces had been thoroughly stretched in managing the refugee problem in Jammu and establishing law and order; peace and harmony in sensitive areas'. Since 1846, British Crown had been responsible for guarding Kashmir against external aggression hence its State forces were not adequate. It had been dependent for arms on the British Indian army and now with two new Dominions – both eyeing it – Kashmir was suddenly militarily extremely vulnerable. Despite this precarious military and economic situation, the Maharaja and his Prime Minister, as Scott puts it, were 'determined to play for independence' [as] their choice was one between 'frying pan and fire' (independence or accession to either dominion). Next, Scott turns towards the domestic politics of the state and relates the manoeuvres and antics of the Hindu and Sikh Sabhas which did not desire any change in the status of the State or its administration; the National Conference (NC) and Muslim Conference (MC) whose rank and file – despite being more attracted to demo-

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cratic and popular governance – were alive to the advantages they enjoyed as State subjects vis-à-vis accession to either Dominions. For Scott, it was the 'ironic impartiality' with which the tribal raiders looted Hindu/Muslim inhabitants of the valley alike that made them welcome the Indian accession and Indian troops, albeit temporarily.

Scott analyses why accession to India was felt as an unattractive proposal for Maharaja…'the fear of economic domination; Nehru and the Indian National Congress' history of being, [generally], anti-princely state rulers and, [in particular], anti-Hari Singh as they were pro-Sheikh Abdullah, also Nehru had been refused a visit [thus] exacerbating animosity; accession to India would have reduced Hari Singh's [personal] powers and privileges; atleast 80% of his subjects were Muslims and while [the] Sheikh had a following in the valley of Kashmir; in western Jammu, Poonch, Gilgit, [and] Muzaffarabad, a move to India would not have been acceptable; and, in the Gilgit agency, [in particular], were the Gilgit Scouts (under the command of Major Brown, a British officer lent by the Crown Representative, recently taken over from the Government of India) upon whose loyalty to the state under this particular issue, no reliance could be placed'. Scott presents Sheikh Abdullah's National Conference as 'predominantly a Muslim body of the valley of Kashmir. 50% of the Muslims of the valley were members of the NC while its membership was open to Hindus and Sikhs. Outside the valley, however, its support dwindled to 5-15% of the population. While NC agitated for democratic governance it was not whole heartedly for a closer integration with India and to its

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minority position but also realised Congress' power and ability against Hari Singh. It plotted an unsuccessful coup in the summer of 1947 but Abdullah was promptly arrested and nothing happened beyond local disturbances as the Muslim officers and officials of Hari Singh's administration were mostly supportive of the MC. Nehru sought to visit Abdullah after Kak/Singh had him arrested but was denied entry on State soil. This increased the existing enmity between the Congress and the Maharaja and also between the former and Kak. At this point, Scott brings in an element of personal hatred and even hostility between Abdullah and Hari Singh/Kak which is well-documented and between two Kashmiri Pandit families of 'the Kaks and the Nehrus' – which has not seen much work. The MC, the state branch of the Moslem League, was bitterly opposed to the NC and to the Congress. Like its rival, it agitated for a more democratic form of government. Scott judges MC's agitation as 'more sincere' and asserts that MC's adherents, throughout the State, probably outnumbered those of the NC while even in the Kashmir valley – until the conduct of the raiders from October 1947 – the supporters of the MC were, probably, about equal in numbers with the supporters of the NC'. Scott says that throughout June-July 1947 the MC was content to sit back and watch the quarrel between Hari Singh and Sheikh Abdullah and the reverses suffered by the latter at the hands of the former which, in Scott's words, 'were by no means displeasing' to the MC. Scott confirms though that the organisation and discipline of the MC were definitely inferior to those of the NC and local leaders were inclined to take a line of their own regardless of the central policy, in particular in Poonch. He argues that it was only after the dismissal of Kak, the subsequent tilt of Hari Singh – under the

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influence of the coterie around him – towards India and the unexpected success of the State Forces against the rebels in Poonch that the Moslem Conference declared for accession to Pakistan and its leaders fled Kashmir. Scott sheds some useful light on Ram Chandra Kak and his position. He finds favour with Kak's policy to secure and maintain the independence of the state with a view to saving the State from the inter-communal strife that was raging in Punjab. He praises Kak for all that he could do – rather successfully – to ensure a friendly or atleast not actively hostile, Pakistan and Moslem League. He informs that till Kak was the PM, Pakistan maintained troops along the two main roads leading into the State and allowed no raiding and that the embargo on the sale of Kashmiri timber and on the importation from Pakistan into the State of petrol began after Kak's departure. However, it is equally clear from Scott's account that Kak was not so particular about maintaining friendly relations with India and the Congress, coloured by his 'personal dislike for the Congress and family feud with and antipathy for Mr. J. L. Nehru'. Scott fears that these factors unconsciously influenced Kak in his decisions to have a show down with the National Conference in the summer of 1947 and to forbid Mr. J. L. Nehru to enter the State; although he tempers this by arguing that given the atmosphere, it was by no means certain that that trial of strength was not just about to be initiated by Sheikh Abdullah. Nehru did enter the State and was put to arrest and confinement. There after, there is no doubt in Scott's mind that Nehru and the Congress 'and even Mr. Ghandi (sic.) intrigued in the State for the dismissal of Kak' and their success was regarded by Pakistan and the Muslim Conference as 'marking a change of policy from friendliness to hostility to Pakistan…if

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not that then at least a mark of understanding with the Congress'. The new PM – Jannak Singh – lost little time in applying, what Scott calls, 'a policy of small pin pricks to Pakistan' thus confirming

In comparison, to Scott's mind, accession to Pakistan offered many advantages. 'The very great majority of State subjects were Moslems closely connected by religion and race with the Moslems of the Punjab. It was obvious that the Moslem League would use all its great influence with the Government of Pakistan to persuade the latter to take action to ensure the union of atleast Poonch and Gilgit to Pakistan. Failing Government's action the Moslem League was more than likely itself to take such action. The economies of the state and of the [West] Punjab were closely integrated. The principal land communications of the state with the outside world passed through Pakistan. The prosperity of the agriculture of the Western Punjab is dependent on the waters of two of the great rivers of the state, the Jhelum and the Chinab (sic.). It was most unlikely, to say the least, that Pakistan would permit, without a struggle, the headworks of these great canal systems to pass into the control of India or even probably of an independent J & K State. The principal source of the State government's income derived from the sale of timber felled in the State forests and floated down the Jhelum and Chinab rivers for sale in the Punjab'. the change of policy. Scott also had a word to say about the celebrated refusal to Jinnah from coming to Kashmir for a month or two holidays. He reveals that 'Mr. Jinnah undertook to take no part in politics during his stay in the State and to forbid any kind of dem-

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onstrations in his favour within the state by his followers and admirers'. He hopes – no doubt in hindsight – that 'At the time, Mr. Jinnah made this request, early autumn; it is probable he could have secured to the State the peace he promised during his stay'. He is convinced that 'the refusal [of Jinnah's request] further alienated the Moslem leaders in Pakistan and in the State'. Scott's final report in his capacity as the Chief of Staff of Jammu and Kashmir State Forces, dated 8 October 1947, is a different, rather detailed, affair. It has five sections and they represent the entire spectrum of the concerns and the interests at play in Jammu and Kashmir over the summer and autumn of 1947. Scott begins by talking about the law and order situation. When he left, Kashmir had been quiet, except for the trouble in Poonch in late August and September, and he elaborates. 'The popu l a t i o n i n Po o n c h i s l a r g e l y Mohammadan, although the proportion of Muslims is not so high as in the Kashmir Valley and some other parts of the State. The Hindus, mostly Dogras, and the Sikhs live largely in the towns. The Muslim community in Poonch includes tribes, the Sattis and the Suden, who are akin to the Punjabi Mussalman, have served in the Indian Army in considerable numbers and are fairly well-armed, and the Doons, who have no martial tradition and possess few arms. Towards the end of August, a party of about 30 Muslims from the Punjab entered Poonch and incited the Sattis to march on the capital, to demand Kashmir's accession to Pakistan. A considerable number, swelling to 10, 000, agreed to go to Poonch, primarily in order to represent their own local grievances, their principal complaint being the high prices of foodstuffs. They decided to march on

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Poonch via a little town called Bagh, of about 3, 000 inhabitants, many of whom are Hindus and Sikhs. Bagh is garrisoned by a company of the Kashmir State Forces. They were told by the local civil officials that they would not be permitted to enter Bagh, and they thereupon surrounded the town. A small detachment of State Force Signallers proceeding towards Bagh was attacked by the Sattis, who killed one or two of them and then attacked the town, but were easily driven off. Reinforcements were sent to Bagh from Srinagar and relieved the town without great difficulty. The insurgents then collected at several places on the banks of the Poonch River where they were attacked by the State Forces and dispersed without offering any serious opposition. The total casualties did not exceed 20 Muslim insurgents, about a dozen Hindus and Sikhs and a few State troops'. Mentioning the refugee problem in the State, Scott writes that at least 100, 000 Muslims from East Punjab, and about the same number of non-Muslims from the West Punjab, had been allowed and escorted, on their escape from or to Gurdaspur through the State and that at the time of his departure there were had been some 60, 000 refugees in the State. Scott served under Kak for 5 years

Scott understood that the idea of union with 'Moslem Pakistan was most repugnant to the Maharaja and his Hindu and Sikh subjects on religious grounds. It was on the support of the Hindu Rajput subjects that the throne of the State had rested since its birth. Accession to Pakistan it was thought also would result quickly in the massacre and expulsion from the State of the Hindu and Sikh inhabitants, as indeed most probably it would have.

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New Research on Kashmir exclusive series By RAKESH ANKIT By George : The Cunningham Contribution (Vol. 4, Issue 3, March 2010)

Pandit Ramchandra Kak The Forgotten Premier of Kashmir (Vol. 4, Issue 4, April 2010)

By George : The Cunningham Contribution (Vol. 4, Issue 3, March 2010)

(1942-47), first when Kak was Ministerin-Waiting and then when he became Prime Minister. He enjoyed close relations with Kak and agreed 'entirely' with Kak's view 'that Kashmir should remain on friendly terms with both India and Pakistan and must, for economic reasons and because 85% of the population if Muslim, have close relations with Pakistan'. Scott charges that over the months of July-August 1947, Hari Singh increasingly came under the influence of the Deputy Prime Minister Rai Bahadur M. M. Batra, a Hindu Swami, who had great influence with the Maharani, and the Maharani's brother, Chand, who was appointed the “Household Minister�. Scott holds this coterie desirous of joining India; getting Kak dismissed, prevented from leaving the State, and publicly humiliated (a Commission was appointed to enquire into various misdemeanours alleged to have been committed during Kak's long service). Scott claims that he courted

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unpopularity with Hari Singh and his team by protesting against the treatment accorded to Kak. Scott also relates a little-known episode of September 1947 when he received a telegram from the Pakistan Army HQ, Rawalpindi asking whether 'in view of impending political changes' Scott would consider that the British military families should leave Kashmir. Scott met the Maharaja, apprised him of the contents of the telegram, enquired whether any change in policy was contemplated and, receiving Hari Singh's denial, drafted a telegram to Rawalpindi saying that no political changes were contemplated and there was, there fore, no need to evacuate British families. The Maharaja approved and initialled the draft telegram. Apart from the usual summer visitors, who left before the winter set in, the number of British residents in Kashmir was around 3-4, 000. Most of these had settled there, more or less, permanently and

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owned houses, houseboats and other property and, in Scott's opinion, were unlikely to leave voluntarily. Scott was convinced that if Kashmir acceded to India there will be 'such serious trouble' that special arrangements will be necessary to evacuate willing British subjects but thought that many of them will probably prefer to remain and take their chance rather than leave all they possess behind them. With a mix of hurt, shock and betrayal, Scott recounts how the very next day Sheikh Abdullah was released from jail and, offered a post as Minister, promptly went to Delhi to see Nehru. Another NC leader, Ghulam Nabi Baksh, who had been externed from the State, was permitted to return. One or two leaders of the rival (pro-Muslim League) MC were imprisoned. Scott also found that orders were being issued by the Maharani's brother to the State Forces without his knowledge. These developments, and the apparent intention of the Kashmir Government to tie up with India, made Scott's mind up and he decided to decline the offer of a year's extension. Mr. Powell, the British IG of Police, had a similar experience and, having made up his mind to go, was – in fact – relieved of his appointment. Scott was succeeded by his Brigadier General Staff, a steady Hindu Dogra Officer, and was neither informed nor asked about his views about his permanent successor. Scott claims that he saw no evidence of specific activity by the Government of India to persuade Kashmir to accede to India. He holds the clique around the Maharaja, 'working like beavers', for such a development by every means short of a declaration. Equally, he was convinced that, whatever may be the policy of Karachi, the local officials in Rawalpindi were definitely 'turning on the heat' on Kashmir by ensuring that no petrol or sugar

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reached there. He met Liaquat and informed the PM that no petrol was, in fact, reaching Kashmir despite the former's repeated assurances that Pakistan government had given definite instructions that there was to be no breach of the Standstill Agreement with Kashmir. He dismisses the excuse given by Pakistani authorities that this was due to the reluctance of the Mohammadan drivers to travel on the road between Rawalpindi and Kashmir owing to the presence of large number of Sikhs. He pointed to Liaquat that Kashmir had used half its reserves of petrol on evacuating Muslims from East Punjab and this atleast should be supplied by Pakistan. On 'future developments, Scott's report is very prophetic. Kak's successor as PM was Jannak/Janak Singh, an octogenarian Rajput in favour of union with India who 'conveniently' was laid down by lumbago soon after assuming charge. Deputy PM M. M. Batra, the Hindu Swami and the 'Household Minister' Chand emerged with the most influence on Hari Singh and they all strongly favoured union with India. Without mincing his words, in an accurate statement, on what would happen should Kashmir accede to the Indian Dominion, Scott writes: '…trouble is certain, not at its most serious immediately from within the State – though the Muslims of Poonch and Jammu are fairly wellarmed – but from the incursion of the fanatical tribes of Hazara and the Black Mountain and the Muslims of Jhelum and Rawalpindi. The 9 battalions of the State Forces, largely Hindu, could not effectively cope with such an invasion'. He asserts that the vast majority of Kashmiris have no strong bias for either India or Pakistan and prefer to remain independent of either Dominion and free to earn their living, but they realise that a hostile Pakistan could seriously disrupt Kashmir's economy. He again

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compares the incapable, weak and illorganised pro-Muslim League MC against the well-led pro-Congress NC. Scott also grasped the duality within Sheikh Abdullah and observed that while he has always been pro-Congress and anti-Pakistan, 'there is some evidence that he realises that accession to India would lead to serious economic difficulties and certainly to war between India and Pakistan'. Scott also speculates on possible Indian military involvement by noting that the socalled 'new' road from Jammu to Pathankot (the only link connecting Kashmir with India without entering Pakistan) would not be of much value to Kashmir for military purposes because, first, this long-existed fair-weather road would take about 2 years to be turned into an all-weather one and second, for a considerable distance, it runs close to the Pakistan border. Scott could not have visualised the heavy Indian Air force involvement. Giles Lytton Strachey wrote, in the preface of his spectacular Eminent Victorians (1918): 'The history of the Victorian Age will never be written: we know too much about it. For ignorance is the first requisite of the historian – ignorance, which simplifies and clarifies, which selects and omits, with a placid perfection unattainable by the highest art'. Much the same can be said about the Kashmir conflict, too. Such a vast quantity of information and opinion have been poured forth and accumulated since the events of 22 October 1947 – and, indeed even before – that a, no matter how scrupulous, narration can no longer help to depict the watershed year of 1947. The above attempt represents a different strategy revealing hitherto obscure personalities and their perceptions thereby bringing to fore – at times new/different truths and at others confirming/negating the old.

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ladakh affairs

Education VICIOUS CYCLE TO VIRTUOUS CYCLE:

Ladakh's Tryst with Education Reform THINLAS DORJAY

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seful and relevant education for all will not only help India tear down its social inequalities but will also go a long way in its nation building process. Way back in the 1960s American President Lyndon B. Johnson had realized it when he stated that ''the answer to all our national problems comes down to a single word: education''. '' Education for all'', as envisioned under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and UNESCO campaigns, is a great challenge as well as an opportunity. One of the most vulnerable groups that lag far behind their more fortunate fellow countrymen— also likely to remain unaffected in the foreseeable future— by the ''education for all'' campaign is the tribal community. Given the different cultural ethos, language, custom, and beliefs of the tribal communities, the government must look at tribal education from their perspective: their needs, problems, fears, strengths and weaknesses. Ladakh is one such tribal area. Since independence, education has lacked proper attention from the government. This is evident from the poor passing percentage of only 0-5 in matriculation from 1947 to 1998. Every year, 95% of the students were sent back home with a 'rejected' stamp after spending ten precious years of their lives in school and having learnt pretty little. Education was, then, the name for a disaster in Ladakh. When 95% of students appearing in

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exams fail, the million dollar question to be answered was whether the students have failed the system or the system has failed the students. SECMOL (Students Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh) an NGO set up by a bunch of local students in 1988 to reform the education system started with the principle that 'if 95% of the product fails, not just in schools, in any system whether it is car factory or a jam factory, then it is not the product, it is the system...that has defect, and the system has to be changed''. Thus began a movement aimed at improving the system. In 1994 Operation New Hope (ONH) was jointly launched by Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), SECMOL and village community members as a modus-operandi of the reform process. The goal of the ONH was integration and cooperation among the three pillars of education— Government, Community and Civil Society— with the long term aim of what it calls the 3Hs for Ladakhi children: a Skilled Hand, a Bright Head and a Kind Heart. It identified major defects inherent in the education system there and tried to redress them according to their respective nature and gravity. Adopting Understandable Language Educationists all over the world recommend that the medium of instruction, at least in initial stage, should be the mother tongue. Mohanty and Perregaux, for example, have found that replacing Bodo as a medium of

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instruction against Assamese has positively enhanced achievement of primary grade children of Bodo tribe. Mohanty further argues that denial of education in mother tongue results in “childhood of tension and total rejection of a relationship with the larger society, as was the case when the Bodo Movement started'' Moreover, imposition of languages other than the mother tongue on the minorities violates their Fundamental Rights guaranteed to preserve minority language under Article.29-30 of the constitution. Keeping such a prospect in mind, ONH tried to do away with the imposition of Urdu, the official language of J&K, as the medium of instruction in Ladakh. Urdu used to be the medium of teaching in Ladakhi schools till 8th standard and from there on the medium used to shift to English. But for the lack of an accepted grammar and script of spoken Ladakhi till date, ONH strived to keep English as the medium of instruction from 1st to 10th standard. In this way the burden of grasping two alien languages has been somehow reduced, but not completely done away with. Rationalizing the Curriculum Before ONH, Ladakhi children in first year of school used to learn from books supplied from outside. They had to learn the alphabets by connecting 'E' with elephant; 'F' with fan, 'Z' with zebra although they had never seen an elephant or a fan or a zebra. Their books talked about the monsoon phenomenon, without any one word about the

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intricate irrigation system in their locality. This led to a reality where firstly they could not understand what the books were talking about and had to resort to rote memorizing, and; secondly many of the teachers began to realize that there is learning defect inherent among the Ladakhi children. This also led to a feeling of inferiority complex among the Ladakhi kids. Under ONH, the curricula of the books for primary classes were restructured and localized. These books are accepted by the State government to be taught in Ladakhi schools. Today, thanks to ONH, all Ladakhi children study about Yak, the glaciers and the canals etc in their primary classes. They also learn chapters like ''Wild Life of Ladakh'', '' Life in a Farming Village'' etc. Building Teachers' Capacity Adding to the agony of the fractured system was the non-availability of trained and competent local teachers in Ladakh. Subsequently, teacher hailing from Kashmir and Jammu, proficient only in Hindi or Urdu, used to be engaged in Ladakhi schools where children could speak and understand Ladakhi only. Moreover, the non-local teachers generally used to take transfers in Ladakh as a punishment leading eventually to their insensitivity vis-à-vis the local children. Hence, some of them had the tendency to label Ladakhi children as ''backward'' and ''uncivilized''. Their attitude, action and words in classes stem from this labeled perception. While local teachers were lacking in training, competence and sensitivity to teach Ladakhi children. In short, the overall happenings in classes impacted child's self-esteem and achievement motivation negatively. It is estimated that 60-80 percent of the tribal children in India are pushed out by the end of primary education. ONH prioritized local teacher trained in child-friendly/local teaching-learning method so that the children can relate to them very easily. Activating the Community

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Too young to be addicts Parents pulling out children from JNV Leh as drugs make way to prestigious campus; school is without a fulltime Principal for a year TSEWANG RIGZIN

J

awahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV) centers are considered models in the country because these institutions are supposed to “provide good quality modern education to the talented children predominantly from the rural areas, without regard to their family's socio-economic condition”. However, Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya Leh, probably the country's highest JNV branch, has been left without its principal for almost one year now. Recently there have been some disturbing reports of students indulging into all kinds of shocking activities including use of alcohol, smoking and becoming addict to hazardous substances such as rubber solution and correction fluid within the premises of the school campus. On March 21, 2010 few students were found lying unconscious under the influence of inhaling some addictive substances within the school campus. Similarly last year, many of class 12th students were found lying drunk in a nearby village called Sabu. On being asked, officials of the school, including the incharge principal, Manoj Kumar, while denying having found any student lying unconscious, admitted and confirmed the fact they recovered some addictive substances from some students last month on the campus and also admitted that some students were found drunk last year outside the Vidayala campus. Students maintaining anonymity of their identities told Epilogue that use of alcohol, smoking and inhaling of drugs like substance etc have become so widespread in the school that many new students learn it so quick. After this incident of students becoming unconscious because of use of such substances, many worried parents have started taking out their children from the institution. Phontsog Stobdan from Nubra has discharged his son, Tsewang Norboo, of class 10th from JNV and got him admitted into the government high school Panamik in Nubra which is closer to his village. “My son was one of the students who were found lying unconscious because of inhaling some rubber solution. From that moment I didn't feel like keeping my son far from home. In JNV monitoring of hostel seems to be very poor because teachers were not really aware of what's happening within the school compound”, says Stobdan. There is a Parent Teacher Counsel (PTC) in the School but the meeting of the PTC takes place only once a year. In the wake of last month's incident, the authorities have decided to call a PTC meeting shortly. When contacted, Deputy Commissioner of Leh AK Sahu told Epilogue that he was not aware of the situation and was intending to visit the school. It is disheartening that an institution like JNV, which is considered a model in the country, is left without the head of the institution for a year which has apparently led to the present state of affairs. JNV Leh, which runs from 6th to 12th class, has about 600 students, who are mostly from far flung areas of Leh and Kargil districts. (Under NGI Media Fellowships)

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Ladakh too, like other tribal communities, was distinguished by minimal participation of the community in education reform. Parent's responsibility ended once their child was admitted in a government school. In many cases they even discouraged their children from pursuing education. The general assumption was that education for their children was something imposed from above and or at least something that the government should care. Creating a demand for education among the people was a challenge for the Local government and SECMOL. Thus began a campaign to sensitize, to raise the awareness and influence of the community i.e. make them understand the importance of educa-

tion and root cause of failure of 95% of their children. Since majority of the children in Ladakh are first generation learners, ONH campaign used graphic illustration, films, plays, songs etc to make their parents understand the things in proper perspective. A very interesting graphic illustration used by SECMOL was the Wheel of democracy (adapted from the idea of Cyclic Existence in Buddhism). It showed education system through a Vicious cycle (failure of education system—wherein community members do not prioritize education and run after subsidies and other secondary facilities from the Government leading to a chain of ignorance virtually leading to increased failures, drop-outs) and Virtuous cycle (suc-

When 95% of students appearing in exams fail, the million dollar question to be answered was whether the students have failed the system or the system has failed the students. SECMOL (Students Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh) an NGO set up by a bunch of local students in 1988 to reform the education system started with the principle that 'if 95% of the product fails then it is not the product, it is the system...that has defect, and the system has to be changed'. Thus began a movement aimed at improving the system.

Can Ladakhi students study in Ladakh? Probably no! There is a strong civil society movement in region for education but government is not coming up with required infrastructure and manpower LOBZANG STANZEN

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espite a revolutionary movement in the region for excellence in education, Ladakh is doomed to finish poor, if not fail, for the lack of basic infrastructure which has to be created, run and monitored by the state. If you want to see the Ladakhi students they are found more in Jammu, Chandigarh, Delhi, Dehradun and other cities than Ladakh itself. In Ladakh they can just think of education and can't actually attain it as the matching education system is yet to come up. Up to high school the facilities are fair, but not good. Now as we talk of higher secondary, there are only few schools and that too with inadequate number of lecturers, lack of other facilities like laboratories and libraries etc. As we talk of colleges, there are only two colleges in the heart of region, one in Leh and another in Kargil. Students in colleges face the same problems of lack of lecturers and professors and other facilities as colleges should have. In addition, the exams are delayed and held late, due to which it takes more than three years to complete the degree course. These and many more force the Ladakhi people to send their children outside the region for attaining even the basic education. What to talk of excellence, Ladakhi students are unable even to pass the matriculation examinations. The promising development in the region is that Ladakhi students are now well aware of the importance of education in Ladakh and despite all the problems they work hard to achieve success and are doing excellent in many professions. The students studying outside Ladakh are spreading education awareness when they go back to their home town. The credit for all these goes to the dearest parents who support and encourage their children to face all the problems happily. It is also pointed out by concerned people that economically it is a big drain because more than Rs 20 Crore are spent by these students from Ladakh attaining education in different parts of country. This amount is almost the same as Ladakh earns from its only industry -tourism. Those who are concerned and those who are in power should improve the system in Ladakh, to prevent such drain.

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Vol. 4, Issue 5

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cess of education system—wherein community members prioritize education leading to their active participation as active stakeholders in the system). According to Sonam Wangchuk, one of the main founders of SECMOL, ''with such illustration we found that even the simplest villagers could see that if they were to break this cycle of failure. Then it had to start with the people themselves. Therefore it is the people's priorities (as voters) that that must change” Under ONH, the progressive members in villages were formed into Village Education Committees (VEC) with at least 1/3rd of women and 2 students from the school of concerned village as its member. Since its inception, VEC played an important role in keeping vigil at teachers, maintaining and improving the school infrastructure and looking into the complaints and connivances of the teachers. Moreover, VECs also activated community to contribute physically, like the building of Residential Higher Secondary School at Durbuk block where the local community voluntarily came forward with labour and materials required for the construction of the school building. Today the same school is being considered a grand success story in the entire Ladakh. In short, since community life in Ladakh, like any tribal society, is based on cooperation (non-competitive) and collective joy, initiatives like the VEC acknowledges the social fabric and values thereof. The joint effort of the Local government, civil society and community started bearing fruits. During the last few years Ladakh witnessed perceptible changes in the education sector at every level. At the level of community, people are much more awakened vis-à-vis education. At governmental level, the Vision Document 2025 for Ladakh prepared by LAHDC in 2005, education has been put on the priority list. In 2003, the matriculation result went up to 49% with a Govt.

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school in remote Turtuk recording a 100 percent result. In schools, the teaching approach has changed from '' chalk, talk and stick'' to ''child-centered, joyful and meaningful learning'' while text books are culturally rooted and geographically relevant, and teachers are locals and relatively well trained. Happy Beginning, Sad Ending Be it educational reforms in Ladakh or any other reforms in other parts of India, such reforms and changes generate resistance and reaction in its course. It always goes directly against the existing set up, the Chalta Hai attitude people and against the established interests of the powers that be. Ladakh has its own story of reforms, resistance and reaction. After the progressive role played in ONH, SECMOL has had a fretful disappearance from Leh in 2007. In a sequence of events following the controversy between then DC of Leh and NGOs, MK Dwivedi, the DC framed Sonam Wangchuk and SECMOL on very flimsy grounds like ''anti-national connections with China''. Unfortunately, the local leaders remained mum and dull and did not try to resolve the matter, despite their appreciation of work done by Wangchuk earlier. This unfortunate event ultimately led SECMOL to withdraw from further reform and collaboration with the Local government. However, the good news is that the Ladakhi students studying outside Ladakh (Jammu, Chandigarh, Delhi, Deradun, Varanasi etc.) have seemed to realize the importance of education. Recently, a seminar namely ''An interactive seminar on education with Sonam Wangchuk'' ogranised by Ladakh Student Union Jammu saw thousands of students turning up with representative from all Ladakhi Students Unions from different parts of the country in the jam-packed Zorawar Singh Auditorium in Jammu on the 21st of Feb. 2010. In the same breath, they emphasized their concern for education, back in Ladakh. Now, that seems to be a happy beginning once again.

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In 1994 Operation New Hope (ONH) was jointly launched by Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), SECMOL and village community members as a modus-operandi of the reform process. The goal of the ONH was integration and cooperation among the three pillars of education— Government, Community and Civil Society— with the long term aim of what it calls the 3Hs for Ladakhi children: a Skilled Hand, a Bright Head and a Kind Heart Before ONH, Ladakhi children in first year of school used to learn from books supplied from outside. They had to learn the alphabets by connecting 'E' with elephant; 'F' with fan, 'Z' with zebra although they had never seen an elephant or a fan or a zebra. Their books talked about the monsoon phenomenon, without any one word about the intricate irrigation system in their locality Today, thanks to ONH, all Ladakhi children study about Yak, the glaciers and the canals etc in their primary classes. They also learn chapters like ''Wild Life of Ladakh'', '' Life in a Farming Village'' etc The general assumption was that education for their children was something imposed from above and or at least something that the government should care. Creating a demand for education among the people was a challenge for the Local government and SECMOL After the progressive role played in ONH, SECMOL has had a fretful disappearance from Leh in 2007. In a sequence of events following the controversy between then DC of Leh and NGOs, MK Dwivedi, the DC framed Sonam Wangchuk and SECMOL on very flimsy grounds like ''anti-national connections with China

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Opinion DON'T NEGLECT IT;

Ladakh too is in India STANZIN KHEWANG

Time and again Ladakhis are made to believe that whatever little development is there in the region is all an unintended dividend of spending on defence infrastructure to check China and Pakistan. Ladakhis are, however, craving to be seen as citizens of India

F

or its unique cultural and topographical features Ladakh is increasingly becoming a famous tourist destination especially among the western adventurers. However, unfortunately being a part of Jammu and Kashmir State, the region has been suffering unusually. Government of India claims that it is putting in all possible efforts to develop the Ladakh region in the Himalayas. However it has been observed in the last few decades the developments in Ladakh have taken place for the army operations against China and Pakistan. Leh district which borders both China and Pakistan has seen some developments to some extent whereas in Kargil district the peripheral areas are still all the same as they used to be in 1960's. It has also observed in the recent days that Government of India has downplayed report of the Chinese incursion into the Indian Territory in Ladakh region. The Deputy Commissioner of Leh, who visited the area where the incursion have reportedly taken place, officially placed on record saying a large chunk of area was illegally captured by the People's Liberation Army of China. But on the other hand, very surprisingly, the Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram through media refutes this report as

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baseless. Under this circumstances the Nambarder (village head) of Demchok village in Changthang, the eastern region bordering China in Ladakh, has reported that Government of India is not paying serious attention to save its land from Ladakh side. Whereas in the name of protecting Kashmir, thousands of precious lives of human beings have been lost to the ongoing political turmoil of the valley in the last two decades. The Nambarder has further threatened to show their disloyalty to India if they are not provided with the basic facilities and situations like the current incursions are not checked on time on the border. It is pertinent to mention here that people in Ladakh bravely and selflessly helped to protect the Indian soil from invasion across the borders during different wars, be it 1962 with China or 1971 and 1999 with Pakistan. It seems to me that lots of funds are being allocated to Kashmir by the Government of India and also different academic institutions are being developed in Kashmir as well as in Jammu for the development of youth of these regions. But comparatively Ladakh seems to have been neglected by the Government. Why? Is Ladakh lesser important government of India? In their speeches many politicians

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describe Ladakh as the third important region of the State without which Jammu and Kashmir is incomplete. If it is so then why they haven't demanded and provided a separate central university for Ladakh too? Every Ladakhi is not equally affordable to send their children to study in far off places like Jammu, Srinagar and other parts of India for education. As a result of which education becomes something for those only who can afford it. There are two degree colleges in Ladakh which are left without adequate basic facilities and faculty members. All basic rights ensured by mother India are being snatched by vested Kashmiri administrators and politician. Like anywhere in the country Ladakhi students are equally capable and intelligent to pursue different higher studies provided that we have facilities such as a University at home like the other regions of the state. Culture genocide is taking place in Ladakh in the name of education. Right from the age of 16 years when the children passed their tenth class, students in Ladakh have to think about going outside Ladakh to cities like Srinagar, Jammu etc for their higher studies. Hence they have to spend the critical period adolescence as educational refu-

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gees far from home. This circumstance affects the teenagers in different ways as when the return to their homeland after completion of their studies. Since the future of a community and society lies in the hand of youth and if youth are living in such an environment (far from their culture and identity) it may affect badly in preserving the cultural identity. So seems to be a policy of the Government to deteriorate the culture propagation and preservation in Ladakh. If such a scenario continues, then ultimately Ladakh would become a story to be narrated to the future generation. So many foreigners are coming to Ladakh because of the unique and beautiful culture being preserved in its original form by the people. If this culture faded, then no tourism related economic growth will take place. Nowadays, you will find so many Ladakhi youngsters who are not even familiar with the letters of Tibetan script – which is used to write Ladakhi. This ongoing menace or the cultural onslaught needs to be curbed before it's too late. We are still keeping very high expectation that the government will extend every possible help to preserve the unique culture, develop the peripheral areas and provide basic facilities to every Ladakhi which may instill them with the sense to owe their country. “truth shall prevail�.

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Bankers told to reach the masses

S

tressing need for greater awareness regarding different sponsored schemes and bank loans among the masses at grass root level, the Deputy Commissioner of, Ajit Kumar Sahu has said that desired results could be achieved by implementing agencies only after educating common people properly at grass root level. He asked the line department to invite Bankers as and when they holdsawareness camp in the district for creating awareness among the people about different sponsored programme and loans schemes, so that farmers and other concerned could be acquainted about the different welfare scheme. Recently Sahu chaired a meeting of District Consultative Committee and District Level Review Committee to review credits under Action Plan 2009-10, performance of banks in key areas related to deposits advances priority sector lending for the quarter ending March 2010. The representatives of various Banks and District Officers of different departments of Leh district attended. Chief Manager Lead Bank Office, Leh Bhardawaj gave a detail performances of Banks achieved up to ending March, 2010. The meeting had threadbare review of SGSY/JKSES,ST,KVIB,DIC SJSRY etc with special emphasis on DIR, SHGs, Kissan Credit Cards, Women beneficiaries in general and financial literacy in particular PMEGS etc. It was informed in the meeting that Rs 8781.63 lacs have advanced under priority sector, Rs 126.59 lacs under Agriculture, Rs.1342.16 lacs under weaker section sector and Rs. 470.90 lacs have been advanced under women sector respectively as on March 31, 2010.

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Leh Deputy Commissioner AK Sahu asked the line department to invite Bankers as and when they holdsawareness camp in the district for creating awareness among the people about different sponsored programme and loans schemes It was told in the meeting that under JKSES, RS. 313.80 lacs was targeted to be sponsored for 175 cases during the year 2009-010,out of which 126 cases have been finalized and disbursed Rs. 306.81 lacs up to ending March, 2010. Similarly Rs. 36.23 lacs disbursed among 15 beneficiaries under PMEGP (KVIB) and Rs. 23.60 lacs disbursed among 64 beneficiaries under SGSY. It was further informed that under district credit plan 2009-010,the district has received an achievement of Rs.88.84 percent as on ending March,2010. Under the plan over Rs.22 crore were provided under priority sector while Rs.24 crore were provided under Agriculture and non-farming sector. The Chief Manager Lead Band Office, Leh informed in the meeting that Annual credit plan target for the year, 2010-11 of Leh district will be the order of Rs.43 crore, of which Rs.3439.60 lcas under priority sector and Rs.860.04 lacs under non priority sector respectively.

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Jora tours Leh-Srinagar remote Durbuk highway reopens block of he Leh-Srinagar Highway, after remaining closed during winter months, was reopened for heavy vehicular movement from April 22 even as the light vehicles had already started plying on the road from April 17th. Changthang A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting held in Jammu

T

I

n order to take a stock of the developmental activities and also redress the grievances of the people, the Minister for Tourism and Culture Nawang Rigzin Jora conducted a two day tour of Durbuk block of Changthang areas in the middle of April. Giving the different geographical terrain of Changthang region and the huge developmental vacuum therein, the Minister gave full assurance to the people of Tangtse and Durbuk that he would try his best to convince the Government to sanction special Sub Division status to Durbuk Block which has been a long pending demand of the people. Taking serious note of the illegal encroachments around the beautiful Pangong Lake, the Minister Rigzin Jora issued strict instructions to the Sub Divisional Magistrate, Nyoma and Additional Deputy Commissioner, Leh to stop all the construction encroachments near/around Pangong Lake hence forth so that the natural beauty of the magnificent lake is maintained intact.

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on April 18 under the chairmanship of the Minister for Finance and Ladakh Affairs, Abdul Rahim Rather. The meeting discussed and finalized the plan for movement of vehicles on Leh-Srinagar Highway particularly on Zojila Pass, convoy timings for smooth flow of traffic and arrangements relating to disaster management enroute the highway. The Minister for Tourism, Nawang Rigzin Jora, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Public Distribution and Transport, Qamar Ali Akhoon, Chairman, Leh Autonomous Hill Development Council and Kargil, Autonomous Hill Development Council, Tsering Dorjay and Kachoo Ahmed Ali respectively also participated in the meeting. The meeting also approved Convoy timings according to which all the heavy vehicles shall have to cross DrassGumari stretch between 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. whereas the vehicles from Srinagar have to cross Sonamarg-Drass stretch between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. However there shall be no time restriction for light vehicles except during road repairing to be undertaken by the BEACON between 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. The meeting also discussed a 6 months truck movement schedule based on the requisition of various departments commencing from the month of May up to September 2010. As per estimates 18300 truck trips are required to build bumper stocks of foodgrains and other essential commodities including construction material and fertilizers. It was decided that the total regulation and management of traffic movement on the highway would be managed exclusively by the Traffic department. However, the district police, Kargil would also be associated in regulating traffic especially on Zojila Pass. Mr. Rather directed the concerned departments and agencies to immediately put in place adequate men and machinery to regulate traffic on the highway. Mr. Rather also asked the District Development Commissioner, Kargil to immediately formulate and put in place a comprehensive disaster management plan including first aid facilities to meet any exigency of emergency situations in the wake of routine weather vagaries on the highway. He also called for setting up of a monitoring cell at Sonamarg on the pattern of Lower Munda to oversee flow of essential commodities and quality of food grains. Mr. Qamar Ali Akhoon said that Government would explore all possibilities to install an additional weighbridge at Sonamarg to cope up with the rush of vehicles adding that as per records, about 250 to 300 trucks pass through the existing weighbridge per day. He said Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution department and Food Corporation of India have planned to complete stocking/dumping of foodgrains and essential commodities for 18th months as compared to 16 months previous year by the month of September this year. Mr. Jora called for dumping quality timber wood to meet the requirements of the people of Leh and Kargil districts. He also called for adequate stocking of essential commodities across Ladakh region.

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Epilogue, May 2010


t Children's Paradise School t Miran Sahib Public School t Ram Bagh Public School t Vocational Training Centre

t Museum

t Library

t Research Center

t Begum Akbar Jahan Foundation & Research Library

Come and See first such community initiative in South Asia

t K.B. Public School

t Auditorium

www.gurjardesh.org NH By Pass, Gujjar Colony, Jammu

EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTES

CENTRE FOR CULTURE & HERITAGE

A TRIBUTE TO CENTURIES OLD GLORIOUS HISTORY, ART & CULTURE OF GUJJARS

May 2010 Issue  

Focus on Border Districts of Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir

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