Talk about North Kashmir and you talk about one third of the Kashmir’s total populace. It is a whooping 2.3 million and encompasses a tremendous diversity of being, nature and circumstances.
Talk to its concerned citizens, what they narrate is a story of apathy and indifference. They begin from social progress and end up in reversion, discussing the days of glory ending up in shrieks with their story of neglect. They narrate the history from the times when it was a model among the regions of the state and show their hearts aching with the towns wearing the deserted looks.
They compare the past and question their present. They complaint of the casual dealing by the rulers of the state and find the entire north Kashmir maltreated by the entire political regimes since 1947. The want the governments to come to their rescue and the times have proven the governments insensitive only.
For a few years now, the learned people of the region have taken to news papers and attempted to take up their plight in the newspaper columns seeking attention from the governments. They have finally found themselves as voiceless and sought the help of print media to give their developmental agenda a voice.
Discuss this agenda in the towns we observe the betrayal by the political pilots and the failure of people too. Leaving aside the presumed piety and concern aside, the residents of North Kashmir have failed to bring up a single media house to speak for them. They have no good newspaper or print media to challenge the government’s insensitivity and callous attitude. They earn too little space in the city media or the south Kashmir owned media houses. National media covers them only for the conflict issues.The lack a collective will and the required institutions to compel the state.
The massive amount of news remains uncovered, concealed and untold. Issues remain submerged and pressure on the state leadership remains least impressive. That what is said, Until the Story of the hunt is told by the Lion, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter, is reflected as it is in the case of North Kashmir.
The problem that exists in this part of the world is the lack of cohesive understanding and assistance on common minimum agenda by the entire populace of the region.
Assuming Baramulla town as a small sample of north Kashmir, we observe hundreds of millions of rupees being invested to building Masjids in the town after the earth shook a decade back. The competition of space and decoration of Masjids has engulfed the entire elderly folk of the town. This is the same population that is yet to supersede Christian missionary school in better schooling for a century now. But their priorities never change.
The town’s awqaf failed to bring up its own hospital blaming lack of resources. The old Islamic schools with the backing from the largest religious organisation of the state have miserably failed in infra-structural development and faculty improvement again owing the failure of financial institutions. The massive Muslim population continues to visit the Christian medical centre, not for communal harmony, but for the lack of their own alternative. The creation and up to the mark maintenance of institutions has not found takers in this society even in the advanced times.
The religious centres of the town called Darul ulooms have been fed with millions of dollars and the town awaits a scholar worth calling a scholar. The scholars, if some are labelled so, have only created dependent men than learned men and the walking libraries. The investments continue to pour towards them without any system of evaluation. The Mullahs rein the religious field without the qualification required in the post modern times.
The status of the poor is so sad that the leading pro-poor organisations that have promised end of poverty by a decade continue to assist the poor with a monthly support of two thousand rupees or so. How long their decade is and how shall they end the poverty are the questions haunting them too.
The learning levels are so low that the townships either own religious book shops of different organisations or of the academic books, nothing more. Thousands leaving the colleges of north Kashmir are the thousands unskilled and jobless.
When the society has never looked inwards and evaluated its own flaws and it lacks the unanimity of purpose, it may only be wondered as how they presume that they may be heard. Change needs unanimity of understanding, prioritising the issues and the active and vibrant civic actors. It needs better use of modern Information Communication Tools in a more strategic and effective way.
A couple of young boys from the north Kashmir wanted to become the voice of the voiceless and they made an adventurous attempt to state a newspaper, named The Vamul Post. However, their apathy raises eye brows on the societal response and the credentials of the learned men and civil society of the region. These boys have taken an initiative by starting a periodical publication to raise the issues pertaining to developmental lacunas, the documentation of robbed liberty, to stimulate the industry, to intellectualise the young and to ameliorate the morals of a free and enlightened people. They wanted to tell the world the stories of our own times in our own way and reveal to them the talents and significance of the locals. They have plans to become agenda setters on part of north Kashmir and ensure a debate and reflection on its people’s miseries. They want a cross talk within the society and draft its history.
But apathy leaves us never alone it follows us like a shade. They started, did well, presented the wisdom of the north and questioned the credentials of state on plethora of issue but the lack of community support rendered them homeless is a short time. They had to shift from a rented room and share a new room with another partner. The community is compelling them to search for god fathers and lose their own identity and cause.
This voice of the voiceless may face the same fate as faced the by renowned English fortnightly Milli Gazzette of India. Founder Editor, Zafar ul Islam Khan, while closing the printing of MG said, ‘How long could this journey continue in the wilderness of media world without the badly needed resources?”. He expressed his thoughts saying, ‘But we have realised during the past 17 years that the Muslim community perhaps did not need what we were trying to do’. He wanted Muslims to think while saying, ‘The community needs to give it a thought why Muslim India and Meantime from Calicut ceased publication? Or why Syed Hamid’s Nation and The World is in its present state’. Same needs to be pondered by us as a community. A little growing Tameel e Irshad faces the intellectual crisis and those who own an intellectual supremacy find shame in contributing to the daily’s opinion pages. Others efforts at the state level face the similar issues.
In these circumstances, the foremost that is required is to end the communication gap with in the community and create avenues for intra societal debate. The need is to shun the personal interests for a cumulative good. The civil societies, religious organisations and the concerned citizens need to rise above the occasion and create a single voice that could span the requirements of times and the challenges of the era.
A consensual multi-prong agenda with sincere and selfless efforts guided by the potential minds within community may yield. They need to prioritise the use of financial resources and ensure that the society invests in more important options than lesser ones. The community needs to support those institutions that belong to us as society. The community good earns a bigger reward than a personal good.
Those contributing to the individual agendas and ignoring the collective causes are societal burden that needs to be taken care of. Otherwise, the speculations arise for a social marginalisation after the political one.
The writer hails from Baramulla, Kashmir and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Political Science from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He also writes for The Dawn.