Archive for September, 2013

Hilarious kick-start to the first Football in Kashmir….. By Rashmi Talwar/ Rising Kashmir


While buying roadside knick-knacks, if an old man is seen looking closely at a tall gate of Tyndale Biscoe and Mallinson School in Sheikh Bagh locality of Srinagar, surely, that night’s bedtime story would be an inspiring and hilarious tale of the first football of Kashmir.

The first football- a mini humpty-dumpty- traveled with a newly-wedded English couple of Rev Cecil Tyndale Biscoe, his new bride Blanche Violet Burges in 1891 from London, England. It sailed the seven-seas and reached Karachi, bumped on to Rawalpindi and bounced over to a horse–carriage to Baramulla to finally set sail in a ‘doonga’ – an indigenous Kashmiri boat- and reached Srinagar in 1891.

FIRST FOOTBALL IN KASHMIR

FIRST FOOTBALL IN KASHMIR

Tyndale Biscoe and the first football in Kashmir

Tyndale Biscoe (TB) recalled with glee his tryst when he brought the first football to Kashmir in the autumn of 1891 – “When I brought my bride to Kashmir in November 1891, I brought, also a leather football. When I held it up before the assembled school they asked, what is that?
TB- It is a football.
Boys- What is the use of it?
TB- For playing a game.
Boys- Shall we receive any money if we play that game?
TB- No!
Boys- Then we will not play that game. What is it made of?
TB- Leather.
Boys-Take it away! Take it away!
TB-Why should I take it away?
Boys- Because it is jutha (unholy) we may not touch it, it is leather.
TB- I do not wish you to handle it. I want you to kick it and to-day you are going to learn how to kick it, boys.
Boys- We will not play that jutha game.

So instead of the usual English lesson with the senior class, where many boys had whiskers and beards and some were married and had children, Biscoe described the game and, drew a map of a football ground on a blackboard, showing the position of the players, etc.
Anticipating trouble, he called the teachers, who were all Brahmins, and ordered them to picket certain streets to prevent the boys from running away. When all was ready he gave the orders to proceed to the ground and-“shooed them on like sheep or cattle to the market” when the boys entered the gate. It was a great sight never to be forgotten- All boys shuffling along the street wearing wooden clogs-kharav, carrying their firepots-kangris under flowing phirans or cloaks, on their way to play football. Some were wearing huge gold earrings, some had nose rings and all of them wore their caste marks.

Soon goal posts were put up and teams lined up. A crowd of townsfolk grew every minute, all eager to see the new mischief this foolish young sahib (Tyndale Biscoe) was up to now. When everyone was set, Biscoe put the football in the centre and ordered to kick.

The black-bearded Brahmin looked at him, then at the crowd of fellow co-religionists around, and hung his head. Biscoe again ordered, “Kick!” – Nothing happened. He boomed: “I will give you five-minutes to think, and then something will happen, which you will not like.” What was going to happen, he had not the slightest idea, but fortunately he had armed his teachers with single sticks, in order to drive the boys to the common ground. He lined up the teachers at the goals and told them that when they heard him shout “kick”, should the order not be obeyed immediately, they were at once to rush from the goals at the teams waving their single sticks, and shouting blue murder.

The countdown began: “10 seconds left, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Kick !!!” and down came the teachers shouting and waving their single sticks. Off went that ball and in five seconds all was confusion, for the boys forgot their places on the field, or that they were holy Brahmins, and a rough and tumble began. As they tried to kick the ball, generally missed it, their clogs flew into the air and their pugaris (turbans) were knocked off while their gowns or cloaks (phirans) flapped in one another’s faces; a real grand mix-up of clothes and humanity, it was.

Then all of a sudden there were sounds of agony and horror. A boy was brought sobbing, this Brahmin boy had the unholy leather kicked bang into his face. A terrible predicament, what could the gods be thinking about it? Biscoe told them to take him to the canal and wash him. Away went the crowd with the defiled boy. Back came the washed boy and the rest of the players, all of whom to his surprise at once resumed the game and continued until Biscoe called time. Sightseers were wildly excited and went off to give accounts of this “first game of football played by Brahmins in Kashmir”.

When the so ‘defiled’ black-bearded boy reached his home, his wickedness had reached before his arrival. He was not allowed to enter his home for three months and stayed with a kind relative. Brahmin priests were sure that it was a naughty game. For twelve months, no football could be played unless Biscoe was present to play or referee. Many pricked and deflated the ball but were caught.

After ten years, football was taught to students of ‘State School’ as a game of higher caste gentlemen, later other schools followed. The Hindu or Mohammedan schools too bought footballs and before long inter-school matches were played.

At first, during matches witchcraft was used. Opponents would bring a Brahmin priest to exorcise the goal to prevent the ball to goal. After years, Kashmir succeeded in exorcising the demon from football and despite the valley’s unabated turmoil football’s fascination, is visible in phiran-clad youth holding kangris with one hand, being playful with a football in grounds all over villages of Kashmir, although, few may have had a chance to hear a bedtime story of the furore this little brat caused when it first stepped into Kashmir.

The author can be mailed at rashmitalwarno1@gmail.com
http://www.risingkashmir.com/hilarious-kick-start-to-the-first-football-in-kashmir/

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AMRITSAR’S PRIDE: BARONESS Sandip Verma:‘In many meetings, I am the only woman’ SAANJH


AMRITSAR’S PRIDE
‘In many meetings, I am the only woman’
SAANJH

KV Prasad talks to Baroness Sandip Verma, UK Minister for Energy and Climate Change

AMRITSAR-born Baroness Sandip Verma of Leicester is a Conservative Life Peer who migrated to the United Kingdom as a child. On a recent visit to India and Punjab as Minister, Department of Energy and Climate Change, in the David Cameroon government, she shared her views on work being done by the UK in the sector and her experiences as a woman who came through the ranks in British politics.

Amritsar born Baroness Sandip Verma

Amritsar born Baroness Sandip Verma

What brought you to India and how do you see your visit?

The purpose was to look at programmes we are supporting here and interact with politicians at the local, national and state level. To see the lot of good work NGOs are doing here on the ground and making sure we are all speaking about the same common goal that has been apparent. I see relations between the UK and India as very important. Prime Minister David Cameroon sees it that way too and that is why he assigned a minister to visit India frequently. He is committed to the UK being one the cleanest and greenest. We are committed to exchanging knowledge on that and India has shown the willingness.

Any impressions on the level of commitment of local leaders in empowering people, since they work at the grassroots level?

The most important is how you translate a wish into delivery. We had fruitful interaction at the roundtable in Chandigarh that was attended by local politicians from various parties. There was consensus that something needs to be done, and to see how we get it implemented without making it a political issue. It has to work for the country and planet. We launched a toolkit and saw good projects in Chandigarh and Ropar, where we saw collaboration between Aston University and IIT-Ropar. The UK is committed to 80 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.

India has an issue on financing clean technology. Is there a programme to support it?

Britain has committed 4 billion pounds to the Climate Change Fund and we are working closely through the Department for International Development (UK) and engagement with politicians. I am the first minister to visit Chandigarh and hopefully the Deputy High Commission will be able to bring parties together. UK Trade & Investment is another strong partner. We will make sure those who seek knowledge exchange or technical assistance get it.

Any memories of Amritsar? Have you visited the city on an earlier occasion too?

If cannot be in India and not touch Amritsar. The last I came was when my father passed away; there is a tradition of immersing the ashes in the Beas. Being born in Amritsar, there is a strong feeling of connect; I feel Amritsar has something special about it. In fact, when Prime Minister Cameroon visited, he too noticed it was a very special place.

Do you hold any special memories of the city or relate to in your daily life?

I am a typical Punjabi, and I need to have my paranthas every day! I notice how the Golden Temple is adapting a water management system. It is a good example of how tradition can meet technology.

You are said to have chosen politics for a career as you were impressed by a politician who visited your school. What have been your challenges on this path as a woman?

The person who impressed me to join politics now sits opposite me in the House of Lords, Lord [Greville] Jenner. He was a very good MP. Politicians can motivate the young to take to politics and can ignite an energy in them. He told me how important I was for the country. I grew up in the UK at a time when racism was prevalent and no race-related laws to protect you. I was one of the two non-White students in the class and the comment was a life-changing moment.

Since then I have been looking at discrimination and working to ensure opportunity is available to everyone. It was incredibly difficult for me. I knew nobody in the political arena. It is a struggle if you are from a minority, and being a woman it is even harder. All political parties in the UK have a long way to go. But once you are in the system, you have to deliver. I am in a department that is technical, and I end up in meetings where there are few women. That just shows me how much more needs to be done to bring in diversity.

Political parties across the world are working on attracting the youth to politics.

The political process is to go out and engage, have a conversation. I spend a lot of time talking to young people and women’s groups. There have to be role models for the youth and women to follow.

How about the changing political landscape in Britain?

We have a vibrant diaspora in various fields. It will thus shape future governments. In fact, that’s happening already. British-Indians are beginning to look at politics the same way a typical Briton would.

A la ‘Veer Zara’ wedding of Amritsar’s grandson with a Pak girl…. Rashmi Talwar / Rising Kashmir


A la ‘Veer Zara’ wedding of Amritsar’s grandson with a Pak girl

Rashmi Talwar SEPTEMBER 13, 2013—–
Rising Kashmir

It may be a little bewildering but it happened! Of course Yash Chopra’s hit film ‘Veer Zara’ set the track and tone for cross-border, cross-religion marriages but nothing could have prepared the Hoon family- of the Potadhar tribe of Hindus, Sikhs and Punjabi Hindus, when their son Kanav Partap Hoon, lost his heart to Muslim Samiya Siddiq of Lahore, Pakistan. More so as Kanav happens to be the grandson of (retd) Lt general Prem Nath Hoon, a former Indian army commander, settled in Chandigarh.
The innocent interaction by two youngsters Kanav, 27 and Samiya, 26 started over the internet. With strict visa policy and even harsher rival country situation, combined with the fact that it could turn out to be a mere infatuation, they decided to meet in Dubai as friends first. But after Dubai there was no turning back as each had fallen madly in love.

Kanav Partap Hoon (chandiagarh) weds Samiya Siddiqi of Lahore

Kanav Partap Hoon (chandigarh) weds Samiya Siddiqi of Lahore

Kanav, took a strong stand with his family especially his father Ronnie and grandfather that Samiya was the only girl he wanted to marry. “It was not only about the girl being a Muslim but about her being from Pakistan,” commented a family friend.
Even though the situation caused heavy creases on the foreheads of both the father and grandfather of the boy, no amount of cajoling worked for the young boy or the Pakistani girl to give up their relationship. Finally the Indian family had to relent for the sake of the happiness of their only son.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR  Veer Zara- Indo Pak , Hindu Muslim Wedding

FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR
Veer Zara- Indo Pak , Hindu Muslim Wedding

Early this year, the pre-wedding, shagun ceremony was held in Lahore, whereby the family from Chandigarh had traveled to Lahore, but till then the father and grandfather had not given in to the desire of Kanav and so did not accompany them. Also, people in services are not given visas to each other’s countries by both neighbors. However, the boy’s mother Radhika @Radhu and maternal grandmother of Kanav, and a few more close relatives chose to do the right thing in the circumstances and the ceremony of consolidation of promise of marriage, was happily entered into at the maternal home of bride-to-be Samiya, in Lahore.
A marriage party of 55 persons came down from Lahore to Chandigarh for the wedding on this Friday in which there were more women than men including young girls. There were four functions for the wedding including a Mehandi raat and a cocktail.
As is the norm in Punjabi weddings these days, family members and friends prepare a cultural programme on bollywood numbers. From the bride Samiya’s side, Pakistani girls danced on latest saucy and raunchy hit Indian bollywood numbers like ‘meri photo ko chipka le saiyaan fevicol se’, ‘loongi dance’ ; ‘firebrigade mangva de tu’ etc. A guest from the Pakistani side later revealed that the Pak girls who danced were not all from the family but professional dancers, who had accompanied the marriage party from Lahore.
Samiya, is the daughter of Shazia Siddiq, as was claimed by her family, who had lost her father Mian Mohammed Siddiq early in life. But speculation ran riot during the wedding that bride Samiya was the daughter of Shahbaz Shrief the Chief Minister of Pakistani Punjab, the brother of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Shrief .
The marriage was first registered in court without any formal religious vows and a grand reception was held in Taj Hotel, Chandigarh. The fact that Shahbaz Sharief’s divorced wife Aaliya Honey and her sister were present during the wedding celebrations, had triggered the rumors. The Tareek E Insaaf party of Imran Khan was quick to grab political mileage out of the situation, and known to have put the news links on their Twitter and Facebook posts, later however they removed it.
The bride’s family had brought a specially designed Doli (palanquin) in the shape of a blooming Lotus for the bride to be carried by four carriers. The trend of Dolis is often seen in big fat Punjabi weddings in India these days.
“The Doli was exquisite, I have never seen a more beautiful designed doli. Matching the doli were miniature lotus flower candle holders that were put in the entire pandal,” said one guest. The bride’s families were wearing Indo-western outfits instead of pure ethnic wear of Lehanga, Shararas, Sarees etc and the designs were out of the world, beamed one guest. The outfits had been designed in Karachi. Incidentally, the groom’s mother is the owner of a high class fashion boutique in Chandigarh and so both sides were going gag over each other’s outfits as Indians and Pakistanis Punjabis are considered to be too fashion conscious.
A guest at the wedding and close family friend told Rising Kashmir that tongues kept wagging about the bride being from Pakistan’s ruling family of Shariefs’. While the bride and groom kept mum over the issue it was grandfather (retd) Lt Gen Hoon who cleared the air and said this was false and angrily stated that people concoct stories out of nowhere. Being unwell, 85- year old Ambar Hoon, grandmother of the bridegroom couldn’t attend the wedding.
A Senior journalist who attended the wedding along with some top politicians of Punjab like Rana Gurjit Singh stated – “Cyber space has given a handle to religious fanaticism in groups but on a personal and singular level it has served to build bridges and reject snobbish ideas of religion. If any wedding has been the cynosure of all eyes after Ashwarya Rai and Abhishekh Bachchan and Sania Mirza and Shoaib, it is this of Pakistani girl marrying the grandson of the former Indian army commander who is known to openly air his views on Indo-Pak relations in the face of violations and provocations at the LoC that has caught the imagination of people as the way forward for better relations between the two warring countries. Even though the Hoons are known to be a martial tribe from central Asia says Autar Mota, a Kashmir who has worked on Huns, Mihirkula being once rulers of Kashmir. However, the Hoon family of Chandigarh traces its origins from Potodhar Plateau and natives of Abottabad- in Pakistan, the infamous hideout of the Osama Bin Laden- the 9/11 mastermind.”
The former commander of Indian army Lt Gen Hoon headed the 15 Corps that had recaptured Siachen glacier in April 13, 1984 in Op Meghdoot.
The author can be mailed at rashmitalwarno1@gmail.com
URL: http://www.risingkashmir.in/a-la-veer-zara-wedding-of-amritsars-grandson-with-a-pak-girl
FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR ON SEPTEMBER 13, 2013

More Orchestrated than the Orchestra? …. By Rashmi Talwar


DSCN0289EHSAAS~E~KASHMIR

Ehsaas-E-Kashmir

More Orchestrated than the Orchestra?

Rashmi Talwar

The tallest of Chinars and the tiniest of Rose buds rejoiced and swung in divine unison to the enthralling tunes emanating from the grand orchestra; majestic snows felt captivated with a tingling sensation; lush gardens emitted a more sweeter fragrance; bluish waters got intoxicated and many a weeping willow smiled broadly and whistled a tune to match the musical notes of melodies as Zubin Mehta and Abhay Rustam Sopori waved their respective batons at the Bavarian State Orchestra and the Soz-o-saaz ensemble of the best of Kashmiri instrumentalists.

Alas, humans- Ashraf-ul-Makhlookaat- the loftiest species, endowed with the gift of creation, acumen as thinkers and protectors were seen standing in divided queues slotted into countless paranoiac segments during the grand display of melody at the sprawling Shalimar Garden of Srinagar, on September 7, 2013. About 90 musicians from Germany showcased magnificent musical creations face to face with 2000 invitees. Many invitees were short-listed months in advance from a list of music connoisseurs.

The curtains rolled up with a music piece by top Kashmiri instrumentalists who played music of 19th century famed poet Rusul Mir’s rustic, romantic hit “Rind Poshmal Gindanay Draay Lo Lo; Shoobi Shaabash Chyani Poth Tsaayi Lo Lo” (O the lover of beauty and wine, Poshmal has come out to frolic; Even the shadow of your shadow deserves praise).

As the East met the West in a matchless assemblage, more than 15 musicians from Soz-o-Saaz, brought folk and Sufi color to the majestic evening and played compositions of Kashmir’s proud son Abhay Rustam Sopori, Santoor maestro, master composer, son of legendary musician Pandit Bhajan Sopori.

ZUBIN MEHTA AND GERMANY'S BAVARIAN STATE ORCHESTRA IN KASHMIR 7TH SEPT 2013

ZUBIN MEHTA AND GERMANY’S BAVARIAN STATE ORCHESTRA IN KASHMIR 7TH SEPT 2013

Top Kashmiri Instrumentalists at Zubin Mehta concert Shalimar Gardens Srinagar

Top Kashmiri Instrumentalists at Zubin Mehta concert Shalimar Gardens Srinagar

But elsewhere a boy defying halt orders was injured in fire by security, in the heart of Srinagar. Four more were killed by security forces in sensitive Shopain of South Kashmir while 12 of the security were injured. “I feel so honored for my compositions to be played by master musicians of the Bavarian State Orchestra with Musical great Zubin Mehta” said Abhay Sopori in his humble style to this writer. At the concert, German ambassador Michael Steiner called out ‘Khushamdeed’ extending a Kashmiri welcome.

Western instruments harmonized seamlessly with distinct Kashmiri music flavors and created melting moments of classic symphony with ethnic instruments of Santoor, Rabab, Sarangi, Tumbaknari and Matka. As Fusion music receded, it was gently taken over by mellow and climactic strains of Beethoven, Haydn, Tchaikovsky and Strauss.While world over these concerts have a select audience, in Kashmir the select audience became an abrasive issue, a status symbol with snob value. Predictably then, some high profile invitees with little sense of music, walked around during a recital; yawned or drove their ears and eyes to the who’s who and fiddled with cell phones. Zubin promised that next time the concert would be for everyone instead of an elitist audience. He was clearly trying to clear the creases from the brows of many uninvited and hullabaloo caused by Kashmir over the event. The grand maestro quoted – Many nightingales entered the garden and flowers made way for the nightingales – taking a leaf out of poetry of famed poetess of Kashmir, Habba Khatoon.

“To audience across the world, Zubin Mehta brought a message of optimism and conviction about the shared destiny of humankind,” The Kashmiri-Bavarian blend music-piece a 7-minute recital created history in the music world. Abhay Rustam Sopori had painstakingly created the music score sheet for foreign musicians of the Bavarian Orchestra, to read and play while the Kashmiri Musicians played by rote – a symphony that found itself as the first in the legendary history of Kashmir. The tingling Santoor matched other musical beats of the valley taking on the Bavarian compositions to fall neatly into folds, in the back drop of historical Shalimar gardens. Kashmir’s robust floriculture department laid the grandeur famed terraced lawns of Mughal Emperor Jehangir in the 17th century with a thorough facelift, not seen in last 40 years. The gardens seemed to have turned all ears and eyes for the lilting musical aura, in decades.

“This is true”, says Kapal Bhrany, an ardent lover of Kashmir in Amritsar in his late 70s, “It leaves me in raptures to recall the musical nights during Shab-e-Shalimar. I saw it first in 1959 and in the 70s with my family. It was a Kashmiri music fare with a son-et-lumiere with Rauf and other dances”, he reminisced.
In 24 European nations, TV viewers watched mesmerized musicians in the grip of creative delirium, as the foothills of ZabarwanRange in the backdrop of Dewan-e-Khaas reverberated and ensconced them in the magnificence of one of the greatest music scores, for nearly 90 minutes.

Those miffed by the 77-year-old celebrated Zubin’s ‘Ehsaas-e-Kashmir’ (the feel of Kashmir); seem to have wished no joys or pride for their Kashmir. They concocted stories and assigned meanings and stepped up all opportunity to play politics. On the sidelines they yearned to be invited and refusal made them label it the ‘sour grapes’ .The event was a threat to their power to evoke wailings and tears for every misfortune that arrives in Kashmir. “Kashmir, should remain embedded in the throes of despair nothing should soothen the wrinkles of the past,” is their wish.

Insiders say, ‘If separatists really care, let them impose restrictions on big fat Kashmiri weddings and smoothen lives of Kashmiris.” That the concert will facilitate the Indian state to publicize normalcy in Kashmir, is their assault. But Mehta countered-‘Music uplifts forlorn lives!’ ‘Provocation is easy in Kashmir. Who in Kashmir has not watched the live telecast of the musical night in protest?’ The shutdown in protest, rather served civic administration keeping most mischief mongers indoors.

In the entire scenario, nature exudes the warmth of a welcoming, like a father of a bride, to this alien music, while human beings are playing the ultimate villain. The ear that has loved, slept, dreamt after countless musical lullabies by doting mothers ever since birth, how could those ears become believers of destructors, how could they threaten to draw blood over the innocent softness of the healing touch of music?

Published in Saanjh on Wednesday September 11, 2013
URL : https://saanjh.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/more-orchestrated-than-the-orchestra-by-rashmi-talwar/

Kashmir, Punjab addicted to DRUGS… By Rashmi Talwar/ Rising Kashmir/


ADDICTED

ADDICTED

Kashmir, Punjab addicted to DRUGS 

Rashmi Talwar

SEPTEMBER 2, 2013 7:11 PM

The staccato of guns, the ear-shattering explosions, crinkling shattered windows and wailing screams of the near dead, half dead, the dying, the crimson streams of blood, have taken their deadly toll on both Kashmir and Punjab, leaving behind a trail of tears.
The next big challenge for Kashmir is the drug menace that Punjab is already fighting. Will drugs become another Frankenstein for the conflict zone triangle of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan? Do the perpetrators realize that those peddling or turning a blind-eye may themselves have their homes lit with the dark fires of drugs and end in a slow death, most miserable?

Having exhausted even the short change from American-Dollars received for sending arms and ammunition into Punjab and then Kashmir, the sly borders are indulging in alternate infiltration – fake currency and Drugs! These are the gen-next lethal weapons pushed into both these border states from across the semi-porous borders and even through legal trade routes.
While fake currency hits the economic health, deadly drugs destroy entire families- “Naslain ki naslain tabah karne ki saazish” (conspiracy to destroy breeds and breeds of humankind) pointed out Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, recently in Amritsar- the city that was a hotbed of terrorism in the 80s. Referring to monumental proportions of drug seizures, the former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Azad, is not off-the-mark. Punjab’s countryside of wheat, paddy and mustard blossoming border villages is heavily infested with drugs.

Massive seizures of drugs from drug cartels busted in recent months worth millions of dollars in international market, have crossed the barbed and dragon wire-fencing in Punjab, creeping in the dark into villages lining the border belt between India and Pakistan. “On an average, illegal drugs worth over Rs 2,000 crore ($365.8m) are routed to Indian Punjab annually,” Punjab’s State Minister for Health and Family Welfare Mohan Mittal had asserted.

Punjab, once in the grip of terrorism and separatism, is fighting a losing battle with drugs this time. So too is the fate of scarred Jammu & Kashmir, now in the grip of drugs for last more than a decade. Even west Punjab, especially capital Lahore on Pakistan’s side, is not left untouched by heavy dose of deadly drugs. In Afghanistan, the ready and cheapest cure for any type of pain is opium. The battle–weary population in Jammu and Kashmir, owing to low internal income generation in the past two decades of militancy, has taken to drugs. Many speculate this to be a way to blind away the realities of dealing with death and destruction or joblessness. The emotional angle is merely an excuse for escapism, some experts believe.

Infiltration routes on Indo-Pak border, that once saw heavy arms and ammunition trafficking, are now witness to additional baggage of banned drugs, heroine and others. No religious sermons have been successful in weaning away this wasting crop of sprightly youth from drugs and substance abuse in both Punjab and Kashmir. Even if normalcy does return to Jammu and Kashmir, the state is heading towards a bigger challenge of a monster of drug addiction, like Punjab.

A psychiatrist in Srinagar says, “Drugs become a cocoon to tide over emotions of seeing daily dirges and wailing mothers. “One shot and he/she is yours!” is the funda of drug dealers, who start off as users themselves and to fulfill their personal supply, graduate to the dangerous world of drug peddling.” Hundreds of youth in the once robust countryside of Punjab and now Kashmir have turned into junkies. ‘Junky’ literally meaning turning into junk; ‘Drugs have junked our youth’ admit civil society and politicians across the spectrum of Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir.

Mohammad Faiyaz Farooqi, IG BSF for the entire border of Punjab and Jammu says ‘in last few months a massive seizure of 200 Kg of heroine was affected by BSF alone. There are many agencies that are on the lookout for drugs as they pass through electrocuted fencing, cobra wires, goods, human couriers, and other covert channels. Even security personnel have not been left untouched. Many police, BSF and other personnel have been lured and are under treatment for drug addictions.

There was an instance of a popular publishing house in Amritsar, once caught sending drugs to Canada through courier, by cutting out the holy Guru Granth Sahib to hide packets of heroine. In another case, a Punjabi couple got their friend to gift new suitcases to his aged parents heading for America. The aircraft was cruising along the runaway when ordered to halt. The old couple and their baggage were both downloaded. “The new suitcases were lined with scores of packets of heroine!”

Jammu and Kashmir presents a dismal scenario. The United Nations Drug Control Programme Survey identified nearly 70,000 drug addicts in Kashmir. The long waiting list running into hundreds, for de-addiction center run by the police control room (PCR) in Batamaloo and off shoot centers in Anantnag and Baramaulla are just the tip of an iceberg. It wasn’t without cause that Azad accused Pakistan of pushing in the drugs in the border region to spoil entire breeds of families in Punjab and Kashmir, nor was congress party Vice President Rahul Gandhi merely bragging to showdown the opposition when he declared that 70 percent of the youth in Punjab are into drugs, the statistics of drug addiction is indeed alarming.

Joblessness, frustration and other pressures are cited as reasons for the high incidence of drug addiction, but doctors says addiction is a chronic disease like diabetes, blood pressure and if the habit of being addicted is not channelized, it can take the destructive route. Dr JPS Bhatia, Director of Hermitage Drug Rehab Center in Amritsar reveals that he gets 50 patients every month out of which five are females. “Every third house in Punjab has a drug or alcohol addict. As much as 80 percent of those admitted in his rehab center are heroine users.

Arif Magrabi Khan, working with addicts from Hyderpora locality of Srinagar, says the figure in Jammu and Kashmir for addicts is close to one lakh including use of psychotropic drugs. A UN survey had discovered around 6000 women addicts. The female count is much more, says Arif, as stigma, keeps many women mum, while Kashmir’s countryside is flush with cannabis addiction that grows wild there.
The infiltration of High grade drugs is easy in Kashmir owing to tedious mountain passes, snow, water and fog that help easy thoroughfare for drugs both from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Lax vigilance, high corruption, in cahoots with security at border and police makes a good supply-chain to other states in the country. Disgruntled youth – once fodder for militant groups – are now drifting into addiction, spurring a social problem of increasing gravity. Because of this, even in international forums on drug addiction, Punjab comes into stark focus and now Kashmir too is taking center stage.

While palaces were built by politicians and others on the tears of both Punjab and Kashmir, drugs were offered to assuage the devastation. During elections, political parties have graduated from mere alcohol sops to drug distribution to garner in votes.

It was strange to notice that the Punjab chief minister urged Ghulam Nabi Azad to take up the issue of drug addiction in Punjab with the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and asked him to impose a blanket ban on poppy husk, which was selling freely in states like Rajasthan. Are Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir governments not responsible for their own youth? Or will the menace of drugs completely consume the children of Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab, before politicians wake up and see that the Frankenstein monster of drugs has entered their own backyards while they played vote bank politics!

The author can be mailed at rashmitalwarno1@gmail.com 

FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR ON September 1, 2013

URL: http://risingkashmir.in/kashmir-punjab-addicted-to-drugs/

 

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