Nowhere in sight is the once gateway of Doda – the Pul Doda. Connecting tourist hubs on the historic highway for decades, the town is at verge of getting disappeared from the map. As the Baglihar dam rises with Chenab waters at an alarming rate, Pul Doda is on the brink of a surging sea.  Last week witnessed a four-metre increase in the water level. Besides Pul Doda parts of district Ramban are also facing a similar problem.

The town connects three major habitations – Doda, Kishtwar, Bhaderwah. Its submergence would impact the movement from the entire region. The town is at the tail end of the dam that feeds the 450-MW Baglihar, the state’s flagship power project. The dam actually stores water within the river for around 40 kms of the road length. It is a 50 sq km lake. The rising level has already submerged a temple and a mosque that were built on the banks of the river.

Terrified due to rising level of water, more than 4200 families have migrated to safer areas and the count is likely to touch five-digit mark soon. The people are now either living in rented accommodations or have been constructing new houses in safer areas. Population has migrated mainly from Kulthi, Mala, Trungul, Lamar Bagh, lower Jathi, lower Assar, Bhothro, Marsu, Malhori, Lower Khelani, Pul-Doda, Koda Pani, Shamthi and other similar areas to higher reaches and moving mainly towards Batote, Doda and Bhaderwah areas.

The locals blamed that even though the government had assured rehabilitation of the affected families on 134 kanals of land besides allotting them 250 shops the pace is staggered. The dam has already consumed four lives.

Banking on J&K BANK
It has been hectic activity at the J&K Bank, Kashmir’s only listed company, last week. At its annual general meeting, the bank reappointed two of its directors at the last moment. CA Rakesh Gupta and economics teacher Prof Nisar Ali had exited their positions early 2011. They were first appointed to the board of directors in August 2009. Now they will have a fresh two-year term.

Earlier the bank had planned to take three new directors – Dileep Koul, G M Dugga and Sahni. The plot went off the script at the last moment and the government decided against it and got the outgoing duo back.

The full quorum of the board is expected to pave way for the appointment of new executive directors. The bank, in last few weeks, witnessed superannuation of most of its seniors. These included A K Mehta, Ajit Singh (reappointed as head of J&K Financial services) and more recently Abdul Majid Mir. This left the positions of two EDs vacant. Both the EDs, ever since the creation of the posts, have been on the board of directors.

The business, however, is going on. The bank recently inked an agreement with Bengal Tools (BTL), part of the Kolkata based Shrachi group engaged in the manufacture of power tillers, reapers and power weeders. Apparently aimed at modernizing the agricultural practices in the state, the agreement will help farmers avail loans (falling under priority sector) to get their mechanical systems upgraded. The bank and the company may need a vigorous awareness campaign to inform the people about what they are selling and how can it impact the traditional systems in vogue.

To cap all this, the bank invited the chief minister to the corporate headquarters Thursday evening for a closed function aimed at inaugurating additional facilities. Omar Abdullah clicked thrice to inaugurate 41 ATMs, 10 new J&K Bank Business Units (BU), and roll-over of 12 BU’s to Core Banking Solutions (CBS) platform. Amid praises that chief minister showered on the bank and its staff, the chairman informed the audience that the bank is celebrating its platinum jubilee in 2013. For this milestone, the bank is working towards achieving a business target of Rs 100 thousand crores and a profit of Rs 1000 crores.

Shaming the SYSTEM
The State government has denied giving compensation to the rape victims in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The reason they put forward is that there is “no rule governing a case where a rape victim can be compensated”. They say that “compensations can only be provided in case of death, injury or property damages if caused by subversive activities”.   

This rule of denying compensation to a rape victim came into the public eye when a victim from Nagrimalpora village Kupwara allegedly raped by army men asked for a compensation.

Shahmali, a physically handicapped girl, then 18 (1993), was allegedly raped by army men. The incident happened when the army men stationed at Keigam camp were on a search operation.

The victim can neither speak nor hear because she is deaf and dumb. After this ill-fated and brutal incident her brother, Abdul Ahad Banday, filed an FIR against the accused. When police failed to investigate into the matter Banday approached the States Human Rights Commission (SHRC) in 2002.
In 2007, SHRC found the army men guilty of raping the physically impaired victim and asked compensation of Rs 75,000 from the State. The State denied the compensation. The Chief Minister says he has no idea about any such rule.

Rape victims are not given any compensation in the State because rape comes under the category of “criminal action”. The victims of other criminal actions like beating, theft, murder also do not receive any compensation, so, same applies on a rape victim also.

Now our law making bodies are working on adding some news clauses in the law which is called “plea bargaining”. In this, the victim and the accused will undertake an agreement where the accused will be asked to give some compensation to the victim for his loss. The bargaining will be applicable to all criminal action and hopefully rape will be considered a loss worth giving compensation, insiders in the law ministry said.

Kashmiri language has survived many a crises in its history. Off late, successful campaigns by hundreds of language activists resulted in making Kashmiri a compulsory subject up to the middles. Though the state-run Academy of Art, Culture and Languages has historically been publishing lot of stuff in Kashmiri language, it is now getting into the private sector. The latest is publishing Kashmiri newspaper.

Having Kashmiri language newspaper has remained a target that many people set for themselves. Information, crosschecked on internet suggest Gaash was the first Kashmiri newspaper published by poet Mehjoor. It was followed by Chaman in 1966, Kashur dab in 1967, Naeb in 1970 and after a long hiatus by Sangarmaal in 2006. After that Soan Meeraas followed in later 2006 and Kahwat in 2008.

However, what is significant is that most of the initiatives started in mission mode and could not survive. Sangharmaal got the distinction of being the longest surviving news product in Kashmiri. Published by the Kashmir Media Group that also runs Rising Kashmir in English and Buland Kashmir in Urdu, the group recently upgraded the weekly into a daily affair at a glittering function in the SKICC where Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather launched its fourth daily issue. Kahwat also upgraded to a daily format.

Sangharmaal’s success at the survival front owes to its blend of being partly mission and partly commercial. Given the yearly gold medals it gives to be the best Kashmiri language student does offer some kind of genuine involvement with language revival and activism. Even at the launch function, it felicitated posthumously the well known satirist Ghulam Ali Majboor who died of cancer in 2009.

But the larger question will remain if the Kashmiri language spoken by a very small number of people can ever be linked to commerce. It undoubtedly is one of the oldest languages. Even Urdu is much younger to it but has many times more users. How much time shall it take us to convert the knowledge into Kashmiri and then contribute to the knowledge in our own language to make a mark? But every initiative deserves respect. As far as survival of the Kashmiri language goes, activists should remain optimistic that it is unlikely to die. In last millennium, Kashmir converted from Buddhism to Hinduism and finally to Islam. It changed many languages at the court. Kashmir survived so did the native language.

Martyrs Day CURFEWED
July 13 has remained a politically sacred day. It is official holiday as political parties remember the 22 Kashmiris who were massacred by Maharaja Hari Singh’s soldiers in 1931. For most of last 20 years, it was marked with a shutdown. Both the factions of Hurriyat Conference had urged the people to march towards the Martyrs’ graveyard at Naqshband Sahab in old city to pay tributes to the slain but heavy contingents of police and paramilitary sealed all the entry points to the city by erecting barricades and concertina wire on the roads. Shot of announcement, it was curfew.

Entire separatist leadership including chairmen of both factions of Hurriyat Conference were put under house arrest to foil their march. Shops, business establishments and other commercial establishments remained closed while public transport was off the roads. Drop gates and barricades emerged over night almost everywhere especially Panthacowk and Shalteng crossing to prevent vehicles coming from south and north Kashmir to enter

Srinagar. In other major towns and district headquarters of Kashmir too complete shutdown was observed except some skeletal private transport that plied in some periphery areas.

It eventually was a show of the unionists at the cemetery. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and his entourage visited the Naqshband Sahib martyrs graveyard and paid floral tributes to the martyrs. Peoples Democratic Party Patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed also visited the Naqashband sahib Shrine and paid floral tributes to martyrs. Besides the two former chief ministers, JKPCC chief, Prof Saifudin Soz along with other Congress leaders paid homage to martyrs. However it was the ‘independent’ MLA from Langate Er Rasheed who refused to accept “sarkari flowers” to lay wreath at the martyrs’ graveyard. Rasheed said he did not lay “Sarkari” flowers on the graves of martyrs as their mission is yet to be completed.

On July 13, 1931, people had gone to witness the trial of Abdul Qadeer Khan at the central jail. As they did not agree to vacate the spot, soldiers fired upon them killing 22. In the subsequent turmoil many hundred people were killed. The watershed event marked the beginning of the end of Dogra rule that started soon after Kashmir was sold by British to them for Rs 75 lakh.

A Window To PAST
Supernovea are spectacular events where the large stars explode at the end of their normal life. If these events occur close to us, then the resultant glow appears like a big diffused object in the sky and can be visible for several weeks.  

 About 10 such events should have been visible in the sky over the last 5000 years or so. Such events have been recorded by the Chinese, Europeans and other cultures but it is generally assumed that the culture of the Indian subcontinent has been insensitive to such events.

One such event occurred in 1604 in the constellation of Sagittarius and is popularly called Kepler’s Supernova since Johhannes Kepler, a German mathematician and astronomer studied it carefully.  

Sagittarius is represented in the drawing of constellations as a tiger with a tail curving towards the head since the arrangement of stars in that region can be described by such a drawing and forms a common motif in the various Mugal monuments and other drawings.

However, in a motif on a Masjid built in 1604, the tail of the tiger has been shown to be on fire. Dr Aijaz Bandey of the Centre for Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University, and Dr Naseer Iqbal of the Department of Physics, Kashmir University, were puzzled by this subtle change in the drawing in that period. When Prof Mayank Vahia of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai and Dr Aniket Sule of the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education visited Srinagar as a part of their studies of the evolution of astronomical ideas in Kashmir region, the interesting motif came up for discussion.

It was soon realised that the period of building of the mosque was soon after the supernova event which would have made the Sagittarius’s tail to have appeared to be burning. They recently presented their findings to a German Journal. “Now, for the first time, we have found an Indian record of a supernova event,” Prof Mayank Vahia told Kashmir Life from Mumbai.


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