Mautkay dar say nahaq parehsan hay
Aap zinda hi kabthay jo mar jaayengay
Why does death pain you?
What is it to you?
It has been long – decades, eternity
Since you were tempted
By the nectar of death.
If blood flows no longer
In parched veins, what is it to you?
The people of Kashmir are known over the world for their culture, social conscience, hard work, and harmony. But over the years these values and ethics have been robbed of their sheen and sanctity due to the longstanding uncertain political scenario prevailing in the State. Now, the graph of crime and social evils like drug addiction, corruption, moral degradation and domestic violence etc. is on the rise in the valley. The unending rat race for the materialism had made people dead oblivious to hypocrisy, cruelty and assuming responsibility for the social decadence. In his famous novella A Christmas Carol, Ezbenezer Scrooge illustrates the predicament of Kashmir well. As a youth, Scrooge was treated very poorly by his family, which led him to look to money as a form of security, something that he could trust. His love for money leads him to lose the woman he loves, and after that he leads a lonely, bitter existence as his life becomes simply a quest for more and bitter material wealth without any spiritual impact. The new phenomenon which is making news across the Tunnel is a well organized and interstate ‘begging mafia’ canvassing in the name of Kashmir. Dozens of families mostly hailing from the north Kashmir as well as from the rural Budgam have landed in many cities of Maharashtra especially in Pune and Mumbai. Nobody can deny the fact that the people in our state are passing through a tough time and the economic status is declining every passing day. However the great worthy nations are known to confront such phases with grit, determination and discipline to stand against the tide guarantees their bright future.
Recently Pune mirror came up with a story of Bhoasri refugee camp which is located at the outskirts of city where a large number of Kashmiri families have camped in, along with women and children. These are not actually refugee camps but a small urban slum flooded with multiethnic people belonging to the different regions and cultures of the state.These families are living in dingy tents side by side with other slum dwellers and according to the locals’ epicenter of crime, AIDS and drug mafia. In such a hostile environment these Kashmiri families are living with great ease and hoping against the hope to make quick money from here. These oblivious people don’t know the dangerous repercussions of this begging path on which they are embarking can culminate at losing their identity as well as the character.
The camp was visited by a group of Kashmir students after the Pune local daily published a news report: Living in more than two dozen temporary and dingy shelters surrounded by the slum neighborhood, women busy in cooking and washing utensils, bringing water from some distance, children playing cricket and the young men taking rest in the shadow at the Bhosari camp of Pune city. These are new fresh slum dwellers from Kashmir, who according to the locals and native eyewitness arrive here every year in the month of November for a unique profession never heard before: to collect donations in the name of terrorism, dislocation and poverty. They claim: we are not here by choice but the unfavorable conditions prevailing back home has brought them to this unknown land. Earlier only males used to come here but the trend has changed now full-fledged families are indulging in this begging business. According to a Techie hailing from Kashmir and who spend more than eight years in the city says Middle aged men and teen age boys were very much active in this begging profession till last year. But the disgusting thing is that this year many young girls from valley armed with multilingual placards reading monetary appeal can be easily sighted at the public places like educational institutes and outside mosques in the city. ‘We have come here for only work and nothing else, we sell saffron in the market yard but we don’t indulge in begging’ says one of the Kashmir refuge living in the Bhosari slum to the students who visited this camp. When asked why you have brought families here knowing the fact women across the tunnel are not safe, they said, “No, No don’t blame us, actually they are people from Rajouri and Doda who beg. We are working here for a saffron merchant,” says one of the Kashmiri slum dweller who is in his 40’s. He further said we don’t know who spoke to press and covered the story of this refugee camp.
Hilal Ahmad the senior most research scholar in the Botany department of Pune University says, ‘I have seen them so many times begging in front of University masjid pleading for money and when asked, don’t you feel shame looting in the name of concocted stories they didn’t have any answer.’
Another student from a management institute says. ‘I saw them in the camp area of city but the most alarming thing is that young girls have joined their rank which is disgraceful and ignominious.’
When the matter was further investigated, we came to know that they have been camping periodically in Maharashtra since 2005 and many individual efforts in this regard has been made in past by taking up this issue with the higher ups in the J&K government but no concrete step has been so for taken to stop this growing social menace.
We the students studying outside the state appeal again to the state government particularly to the civil society groups, and print media to look into the matter seriously before it takes any ugly turn and brings unforeseen shame upon us. Here we are known for excellence, intellectualism, culture and rich history, and often called people from the paradise but unfortunately this handful of black sheep have made our life miserable as well as disgraceful. Earlier we were asked about the Mughal gardens, about the beautiful meadows, Phalgam and Gulmarg, snow and apples but now another epithet has attributed to the beauty of Kashmir…its ‘beggary beggary, beggary’.
By: Mir liyaqat Nazir