Kavita Suri

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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

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Tears flow at ‘justice restored’

Krishan Lal and Dilip Singh of far flung highly inaccessible Prankote village of Udhampur district in Jammu which had once clinched international headlines,are in tears.For the justice that had long been denied to them for all these years,has been given to them ultimately.

Their entire families were wiped out by gun-totting terrorists on 18 April 1998 in one of the worst Prankote carnage in the blood-soaked history of the state. Prankote massacre has been considered as one of the worstever grue-some carnage executed by the terrorists during the last 13 years of bloodshed and destruction but affected families were not provided compassionate appointments under SRO-43 despite the fact that even Union Home Minister Lal Krishan Advani had himself visited the spot and assured every possible help to the victims. Both the survivors were away from their homes when the massacres took place. While Krishan lost his parents, two sisters and a younger brother,Dilip Singh had to live with the agony of having lost his father,two brothers and three sisters.They had nothing to fall back upon.With dear ones having gone,life seemed almost meaningless, more so in absence of something to do.

A total of 38 villagers of Prankote, Dhakikote, Narkote and Chandkote were killed by the terrorists in the Prankote massacre. Such was the brutality of the carnage that bodies of the victims were cut into pieces and some of them were burnt alive. Then Union Home Minister, Mr Lal Krishan Advani had visited the spot and after witnessing brutality with his eyes, had stated that 'we have no right to remain in power if such type of massacre were repeated in future".

It was only after efforts of the new government under its policy of 'healing touch' that justice was given to next of kin of those killed by terrorists four years back. Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed himself went to provide justice in the shape of appointment letters to them at their doorsteps last Saturday in Udhampur. The appointment letters were a healing touch on the wounds inflicted by the terrorists.

His government has started giving compassionate appointment orders to the next of kin of the persons killed by militants. The cases are taken up in chronological order. On 14 November, appointment letters were distributed among 243 persons at Baramulla and 121 persons in Srinagar on 25 November. This is the third in a row of the relief measures- healing touch- that the Mufti government has taken up after he assuming the office on 2 November. The district administration is working overtime to identify the affected families to provide them justice at their door steps 

Continuing with his mission of providing the much needed healing touch to militancy victims of trouble-torn Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed brought cheers in the otherwise traumatized lives of 45 persons in Udhampur by offering them jobs including both Krishan and Dilip.He distributed the appointment orders to the next of kin of those fallen victim to militancy in Udhampur district at a specially organized function.

"Now we find some reason to live",they said after getting jobs,however, wondering why it took so long to the previous government. Their sentiments were echoed by relatively vocal Mir Ahmed of Gool who said that it took Mufti Sahib just to make the wheels of machinery move within days of his taking over."We are optimistic about peace to return',he added.

Just 33-year old Mukhti, parenting five teens then, saw her vice sarpanch husband off the home with a hope to be back in the evening- that had never to come. Next morning, looking for his whereabouts, the 6-month pregnant lady was shocked to learn that her husband Ghulam Hyder had been finished. She delivered her sixth baby three months after militants forced the widowhood on her.

Sheela Devi of Ind, Gool, having four sisters, had tears in her eyes after getting the appointment letter in lieu of the tragic killing of her only brother Madan Lal. Hans Raj of the same village has to live with the scar of having seen the corpse of his father and a cousin besides two others of the village with their bodies pierced with bullet wounds.

Rajinder Singh's brother and two sisters also fell to militants' bullets while militants at Thetharka near Sangaldan killed the father of Ghulam Mohammad, 18, in May 1999. Mohammad Sharief's parents were gunned down for being the so-called army informers.Similar was tale of woes of all those who had assembled to get the appointment orders.

Similar is the scene in Kashmir.Young Rubina's joy knew no bounds when the Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed handed over to her the appointment letter at a function organised at the Tagore Hall in Srinagar recently to provide jobs on compassion to the next of kin of those killed by militants in Srinagar from 1990 to 1993. For a moment, she forgot what had befallen on her family when the militants' bullet pierced her father's body and shattered their life about a decade ago. The appointment order, more than a means of sustenance, was a healing touch on the wounds afflicted by militants on Rubina's family. And the gratitude was pouring out Sof the eyes of the recipient. At least, somebody thought of giving a healing touch to her, may be after 12 years. The young lady was amongst the 121 such unfortunate victims' of militants brutality whose emotions were no different. As the Chief Minister was handing over the appointment letters to them, the jam-packed Tagore Hall reverberated with applause and cheers. Many of those who received the job letters could not stop tears rolling down their cheeks. The tears this time, in contrast to those shed on the day of the tragedy, were of joy and gratefulness.
 
"We are determined to get the people out of the morass of darkness and despair that they have been subjected to during 13 years of violence and bloodshed",said Mufti Muhammad Sayeed while addressing the function. His feelings were like those of the fatherly figure in the family that has gone through wanton turmoil and who wanted to refurbish the household and the lives of its members.

Undoubtedly,it is a saga of suffering and destitution that has been the fate of thousands of families across the valley whose only earning member fell to the bullet of militants or was a victim of cross firing. In the Srinagar district alone,there are 774 clear cases. The magnitude of the tragedy is enormous and the urgency shown by the new government in giving jobs to some of the victims is but an attempt to wipe out tears from their faces and provide them a means to livelihood.

Parvez Dewan, divisional commissioner, Kashmir who knows about many instances where the victim families are finding it hard to pull on, also informs that there are cases that are so pathetic that one cannot even stand listening to the tragic story.

"Roza is a 21 year old girl whose father was gunned down by militants", Dewan told The Statesman while narrating the tragedy the young girl had to undergo. He said as her father fell to the militant's bullet, her mother did not bear the disaster and died of shock. The tragedy did not end there. Roza became a heart patient who has now nobody to look after. "You have to see her shattered and expressionless face", Dewan said. 

Shaista is another tragic story. Her father was killed in 1994 and today, at the tender age of 20, she is looking after her 3 younger brothers ,and with no means of livelihood.

Though Mufti Sayeed understands the extent of the pain and despair of the people who have been the victim of militancy and wants to address the problem and bring back smiles on the faces of Kashmiri people,
however the recent attacks in Kashmir and then twin fidayeen attacks in Jammu have provided enough opportunity to his critics to speak up against his "appeasement policy towards militants and the healing touch". In Srinagar,he said an appointment letter was no substitute to the life of a person but a small gesture of care for the people who have suffered during the last 13 years, might help adding the tragedy was colossal and the pain widespread. The calamity was not limited to Kashmir only but also extends to Jammu division, he said.
 
Interestingly, no new post has been created for providing these jobs. 

"We have worked hard to identify the vacancies and the government had not to provide any money or new post for these appointments", says Parvez Dewan.

"We will visit every place and try to wipe out the tears of the agonized human beings', Mufti Sayeed assures the people, a sizable chunk of those related to persons and families fallen prey to over a decade-long violence in the state.Besdes, he tells them that the kin of those fallen victim to border shelling would also be provided succour. 

Taking the message of "healing touch" in its unfeigned essence to the real victims of decade long turbulence, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has  given appointment letters to the victims.Rehabilitation of the militancy victims is one of many points enshrined in the Common Minimum Programme of the coalition government aimed at healing the wounds of turmoil.

Besides, the new government has also decided to hike the pension of widows from Rs 150 to Rs 200. During 14 years of militancy, only 294 such orders have been issued by the previous governments. However, in first its 12 days of new government,the PDP led coalition government has cleared 234 cases.The old age pension along with the social security pension to the senior citizens under social welfare schemes would be delivered at their doorsteps through money orders.

The Mufti Muhammad has announced that a pension to 23,500 disabled persons would also be distributed at their doorsteps, the charges borne on postal delivery of the pension would be incurred by the government.The decision of the government to deliver pension of the disabled, senior citizens widows at their door steps will go a long way in mitigating their sufferings as they had to run from pillar to post for receiving their pension.

"It is a golden opportunity which nobody must miss", Mufti said exhorting all to contribute in steering out the state from the morass to peace with dignity . He asserts for achieving the resolution of the problem in Jammu and Kashmir his coalition government will strive for evolving a consensus at the national level. 

Wherever he goes disributing jobs for the militancy victims,Mufti's efforts are being appreciated by the masses who have suffered all these years.After receiving appoint orders under SRO-43 at Baramulla one Tasleema Begum widow of Abdul Hamid Mir a resident of Balhama, Rafiabad while narrating her woeful story said that after the death her husband she was not allowed to live with her in-laws and stayed at the residence of her widowed mother. Having no money to feed her family she had to sell one kanal of land.Another Mohammad Ashraf Bhat of Wanigam Pattan said that after the death of his father in 1994 he has developed heart problems for which he had undergone various tests done free of cost on humanitarian grounds at SKIMS as he was unable to afford for the same. After receiving the appointment orders, he hoped that he will be able to treat himself and feed his family.

Like an elder of the family, Mufti talks to the masses, assures them that their wound would be healed. He also refers to the measures taken in recent days for giving respite to the people adding that the slash in power curtailment will be a continuous process. And in this process only, he earns their blessings and a long life for his new government.

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