Posts Tagged ‘saanjh’

India has no constant policy on Kashmir: Gen (retd) VK Singh… By Rashmi Talwar /Sify


Retd COAS Gen VK Singh

Retd COAS Gen VK Singh



EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Gen VK Singh

India has no constant policy on Kashmir: Gen (retd) VK Singh
By Rashmi Talwar

Gen (retd) VK Singh former COAS (Chief of the Army Staff), post his retirement has chosen to come into public life . The Army Chief, had once waded through thick layers of controversies. He first came into the limelight with the confusion of his date-of-birth, then bugging allegations of defense ministry’s office, pushing the panic button on inadequate ammunition in Indian army’s arsenal and others. Now out of power, out of office, secrets are slipping from him, baggages of silence have been shed and many a behind- the- scene, brasstacks are being readily exposed.

The former army chief is trying to wean the public towards the newly formed-Jantantar Morcha (JM) of which Anna Hazare is the patron, and the former COAS Gen Singh, the chairperson. How much militaristic experience in planning, precision, implementation he brings into this civil movement through the fledgling organization that he calls apolitical, is yet to be seen.

His take on National and International issues are thus gathered by RASHMI TALWAR in an exclusive interview with the former COAS, during his Amritsar visit, to announce the flagging-off of the JM from Amritsar’s historic Jallianwala bagh on March 31.

Q. Why have you joined hands with Anna Hazare?

Ans: Because I am equally perturbed about where our country is heading. I too can contribute much to arrest the nation’s current downslide, due to corruption.

Q. Having remained a COAS what is your take on India and Pakistan?

Ans: I am for peace between India and Pakistan. I favor good neighborly relations with trade, business, commerce and other soft channels, but in no way am I in favor of Kashmir being a condition for any forward movement towards peace. Next to its obsession with Kashmir since 1947, Siachen has been the biggest bone that is stuck in Pakistan’s throat since it lost the glacier to the Indian Army in 1984.

Q. Recently former Pakistan President Gen Parvez Musharaff talked about solving the Kashmir issue by revival of the 4-point programme, what do you make of that ?

Ans: In recent times, demilitarization of Siachen is being touted as ‘the’ ultimate solution to the Kashmir problem. Do you know who all were in the 11-member Indian committee formed for Track-II diplomacy? Air Chief Marshal Shashi Tyagi , ‘Fauji’ Journalist Col Ajai Shukla. They were calling for demilitarization of Siachen Glacier in the Saltoro range. (Agitatedly), these are those people who have not visited nor have any notion of the reality of Siachen and the Indian position there. Pakistanis are on the west side of the Saltoro Range. Pakistan has a zero presence in Siachen and is fooling its people. All upper regions are under India’s control and Indian troops are well-entrenched. I wonder, if demilitarization has any scope of spreading this troop withdrawal by Pakistan, from Baltistan as also areas further in the west? Till now, there has been no move to arrive at an agreement by Pakistan to draw a ground demarcation i.e. AGPL (Actual Ground Position Line) to identify which side is where and here we are talking of demilitarization and troop withdrawal. I see no logic, it is ridiculous. In Siachen, Indian army is at an advantageous position sitting on strategic heights, why should we vacate it, for Pakistan to engineer another Kargil?

Q. It is being speculated that USA is bringing India and Pakistan closer to counter the growing power of China?

Ans: If USA is thinking that by bringing India-Pakistan together it can counter China’s growing power then US is ‘naive’. However this idea is too far-fetched. Does America not know that a country like Pakistan can do to it. How it is a complete supply chain for terrorism.


Q. And the Kashmir issue?

Ans: So far, Kashmir has served as a domestic gain for Pakistan. Kashmir is a like pinprick, albeit a large pinprick, that Pakistan uses on India when it wants or unwants something. Kashmir is merely being used by Pakistan. See how Pakistan has spent billions on its anti-India stance and jeopardized its economy. Club that with Pak’s multiple problems of Baluchistan, Quetta, Karachi, Lahore, judiciary, civil society; each of them is flaring. Pakistan army has a vested interest in keeping the turmoil along the border with India alive.

Q. What about India’s handling of Kashmir?
Ans: India’s drawback is that it has never had a constant policy on Kashmir. Its policies go up and down, governed more by political motives than by national interests.

Bad governance is the single major reason for the state of affairs in Kashmir today. Congress in coalition with present NC in J&K was PDP’s partner earlier. Look at the level of opportunism. The kind of money pumped into Kashmir, is unimaginable. As per the present regime’s record, see how the Shopian Rape case was handled, how stone pelters were handled? They had a successful Panchayat election, but do not want to empower them. How was the Amarnath issue handled? Corruption is so rampant and money hardly reaches the needy. I have been a commander, led a Battalion, a Brigade and a Division in Kashmir and I know the ground realities there.

Q. What about AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) that gives unlimited powers to army in Kashmir without answerability or trial?

Ans: AFSPA has been deliberately ‘demonized’ to deflect attention from main issue of misgovernance by vested interests. Kashmir is a highly emotional place. In one instance a rumor in Pattan had all Shias, chest-beating without a single one of them knowing the reason for it. There are hundreds of such instances that could be cited similarly in Kashmir. It is easy to manipulate a highly biased public. More hurt is caused by distrust and suspicion. Once such rumors spread, no one is willing to listen and no one can set the record right. It’s about hyperbole and all hell breaks loose, much like a chinese whisper or a spreading wild fire. In J&K, Pakistan has unleashed a proxy war and the situation has to be tackled by the army to safeguard interests of the nation.

Q What about Afzal Guru’s hanging?

Ans: I do not wish to go into legalities of Guru’s case. But concerning the political manipulation, there is no end to it. There can’t be appeasement of any sect or have double standards.

Q As former army chief do you think Op Bluestar was the right decision?

Ans: Operation Blue Star, in 1984 to flush out militants from the Golden Temple, was a ‘hastily taken political decision. The then COAS Gen AS Vaidya was unwilling to carry it out.

It is the manner in which it was presented that made all the difference. Gen Vaidya was not in favour of it .Gen Vaidya was against the whole plan of action including the timing of it (Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev). I was a major at the time and I know Gen Vaidya had said, “No” to army action against people belonging to the nation, but he had to follow orders.

Q Did Gen Vaidya follow orders reluctantly?

Ans: (Shrugs his shoulders!) Orders are orders! (Operation Blue Star was carried out at Golden Temple to flush out militants led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, holed up there, who had fortified the holy precincts. Bhindranwale was also killed during the operation by the army.)

Q. What is the plan of Anna Hazare’s Jantantar Morcha for the public?

Ans : Jantantar Morcha is an apolitical organization aimed to reach the grass roots level in villages and cities on a 25-point charter prepared by Anna Hazare .

Q. How can you clean up the filth in the well of politics if by not jumping into it? Will you support any party or individual in the political fray? What are the chances of Arvind Kejriwala’s ‘Aam Adami’(AA) party? Any hierarchy created for your JM?

Ans: We shall inform, create awareness and motivate the masses to rise in a peaceful manner to change the system. We need not be in politics to clean it up, because it is difficult to change the set of rules laid in politics for the past six decades. But yes, we will support clean individual candidates in the forthcoming elections. As far as Kejriwala’s political party is concerned, it would have a very limited success. Some of the party workers of AA met us here and are willing to support our organization to make village ‘leaders’. As of now there is no hierarchy or line of command created in the organization. We plan to take our yatra in the form of a public rally from the strongest symbol of Freedom Movement- the Jallianwala Bagh, covering most of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi . The last leg of this All India rally would be from the Punjab areas to Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pardesh besides others.

Q3. Do you think you can replicate or expect a mass movement yet again, as was seen in Jantar Mantar supporting Anna Hazare ?

Ans: People are fed up, now is the chance for the people to make their voices heard, presence felt and act as a pressure group to change the rules that have brought ruination. This mass presence, this frustration and anger with the system was recently seen in the ‘Damani Gang rape case’.

Q4. Damini’s case aroused the public anger as they identified strongly with the security of their children? How does JM plan to trigger such a movement? Is there a plan to charge the masses? It could cause a law and order problem, what then?

Ans: The boiling process has already started and we are targeting the first time voter numbering 9 crore and the 2nd time voter numbering 19 crore. Youth is where JM draws its strength. Yes, we do have a plan but I am not about to share it. It will be visible at the right hour. Our aim is to carry forward this agenda peacefully with a mass movement and we have full faith in Anna ji who will flag the Morcha from Jallianwala bagh on March 31. JM wants the 25- point charter, to be progressed in this one year. Its moot points are ‘Right to Reject’, formation of ‘Gram sabhas’ as watchdog units at village level since panchayats too have become political, Criminals be disallowed to contest any election, besides others.

Post Script: Army Chief Gen Singh who at one time was refuting allegations of phone tapping of defense ministry during his ongoing ‘date-of-birth’ related controversy alleged that his phone was tapped .

FIRST PUBLISHED IN SIFY.COM at : http://www.sify.com/news/interview-vk-singh-on-anna-movement-kashmir-s-problems-and-afspa-news-national-ndfnvcajdei.html

Advertisements

How the Rajoana hanging was torpedoed ?—— By Rashmi Talwar RK


Secret Hangings

Original Heading – ‘Secret Hanging’- a new political tool?
By Rashmi Talwar

How the Rajoana hanging was torpedoed ?—— By Rashmi Talwar RK

Has the ruling government at the center found a new tool in ‘secret hanging’ to wrench the power of political manipulations for its exclusive use? This question has been uppermost in the minds of political parties, especially regional ones whose role has suddenly been eroded in the power-plays.

In the past, these very parties had employed sharp tactics of ‘arouse-n-appease’ their publics for vote bank politics, whenever dates of hanging of convicts were announced. Similar political tactics have been seen to be used blatantly by successive union governments by manipulating CBI case hearings, case announcements, judgments or even new cases openings, to puncture the opponent’s rising influence, especially as a diversionary tactics or in some cases ‘just to put the opponent in their place’.

Take the case of, Balwant Singh Rajoana, the assassin of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, who was to be hanged on May 31, 2012. Three days prior to carrying out the death sentence, a clemency plea in favour of the convict, no-less, than by the present Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, was admitted by President Pratibha Patil, who returned it to Ministry of Home Affairs to further review the case and saved him. The Rajoana case was ‘stayed’. In other words it was the victory of a regional political party, Shiromani Akali Dal led by Badal, who emerged as a saviour for an assassin, convicted of killing Beant Singh- a ‘Congress’ Chief Minister.

In August 2011, when Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha moved the resolution in the state assembly to commute the death sentence of former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins- she used the arouse-n-appease tactic to save Santhan, Perarivalan and Murugan the killers, citing the sentiments of Tamils.

No sooner had Jayalalitha’s plea for mercy been broadcast, a simmering Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah angrily tweeted that ‘if Jammu & Kashmir made such a mercy plea for Afzal Guru- a convict in the Parliament Attack (a Kashmiri), then the public reaction would have not been so subdued’. He even went ahead and queried that if other states were throwing their weight behind Rajiv’s assassins, Beant’s assassins and mass murderers, why was it wrong to ask for clemency for a Kashmiri Afzal Guru.

The clemency pleas of Rajiv’s assassins, Rajoana and Davinder Pal Bhullar, spiralled into issues of sharply divided opinions, arousing passions and subsequently opportunism in political parties. The field was open for all political parties, especially regional parties, to politically manipulate the situation by arousing local passions and finally stepping in to save the state subject. Thus, gaining popular support for this supposed ‘gallantry’.

On the one side it was seen as a virtual ‘defeat’ for the ruling party at the centre in such scenarios. In a quick swoop, the supporting (regional) parties showed the central government as a cruel ‘imposing authority’. On another side, these very parties were successful in making the convict appear as a forthcoming martyr or hero for its community as the state chief ministers came out openly in their support.

Defeating such ploys of state governments, the first secret hanging in recent times came of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving assassin of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Although, in Kasab’s case the state governments had limited role to play in view of the fact that he was a Pakistani national, this was probably an experiment by the central government in deriving political mileage out of such ‘secret hangings’. This hanging was seen by all, as resurrecting the sagging image of Congress that was viewed as ‘weak’ owing to slow or delayed reaction on vital issues of major public sentiment and interest. Enthused by the positive feedback generated Kasab’s ‘secret hanging’, the central government was now ready for the second such experiment, this time around with an additional advantage of taking the wind out of sails of the regional satraps.

This time it seems to be Union Home Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde’s loose statement had antagonized the majority community. A senior political analyst sees it as -“It may appear to be farcical but the statement made by our Home Minister wherein he said that ‘training camps of both BJP and RSS are promoting Hindu terrorism’ may have proved to be the proverbial last nail in Afzal Guru’s coffin”.

While Kashmir flared up post Afzal Guru’s hanging, the senior political analyst, equally upset with the manipulations of the union government, made the picture clearer, he said – “Shinde’s remark, coupled with the fact that the Congress party is popularly perceived to be minority appeaser, had obvious negative fallout. The Congress poll pundits viewed Shinde’s outspokenness as a ‘verbal bomb’ that had antagonized the majority community and results of this blunder would surely emerge in the forthcoming elections in 2014.”

He further analyzed– “Whatever the ruling Congress party may do to woo the minorities, no political party in India can afford to win the parliamentary elections without a strong support base in the majority community. Hence, as a damage control exercise, as also to dodge a belligerent Narendra Modi- a projected candidate for PM and a three time CM of Gujarat- who is breathing down their necks, Afzal Guru had to go”.

Otherwise why is it that convicts before Afzal Guru like Balwant Singh Rajoana, convicted for killing Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in 1995, Devinder Pal Bhullar, another sikh extremist on death row for killing nine persons in a 1993 car blast case, Murugan, Perarivalan and Santhan – convicted in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi-are still alive and Afzal Guru is hanged?

In the case of Afzal Guru, senior political analysts have castigated Omar Abdullah for speaking about the negative fallout of the hanging. Prabhu Chawla, the editorial director of The New Indian Express and The Sunday Standard asked –‘Why is young and bright Omar Abdullah taking up the issue of Afzal Guru. Didn’t Guru attack India of which J&K is an integral part?’ Akhilesh Mishra, a right wing activist contends about Omar’s stand that – “By publicly saying that a new generation of Kashmiris might be driven towards separatism, Omar Abdullah is actually seeding the idea himself.” What they probably have missed out though is that Omar Abdullah’s ire may actually be expression of the frustration of a regional political party (NC) against the central government (UPA) for maneuvering such cases to their own political advantage.

In this entire scenario, it is sad to see this disgraceful trend, in which the ruling party at the centre on one side and state governments on the other have jumped on to a populist bandwagon of either hanging or defending hardcore convicts on partisan lines of community or caste or region, only for vote bank politics! Whichever side gains advantage in this sad game of one-upmanship, it is the nation that loses in all circumstances.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR –

Jammu’s ‘Youngistan’ Enthralls Amritsar….. By Rashmi Talwar


Play: Do Kodi Ka Khel

Play: Do Kodi Ka Khel


THEATER REVIEW

THEATER REVIEW

Jammu’s ‘Youngistan’ Enthralls Amritsar

By Rashmi Talwar
Jammu & Kashmir’s young and only woman director-actor Ifra Kak’s maiden production ‘Do Kodi Ka Khel’ lays bare the convoluted world of corruption. An adaptation by Jammu’s Amateur Theatre Group, the production is based upon Bertolt Brecht’s famous play “Three Penny Opera” with its Hindustani adaptation by Parimal Dutta.
At the “10th National Theatre Festival” at Punjab Naatshala, in Amritsar, commemorating “100 Birth Anniversary of Saadat Hassan Manto” this year, this ‘youngistan’ production played by 15 young boys and girls from militancy infested and remote areas of Jammu and Kashmir, synergize the play, whose plot revolves around a beggar bunch and a dacoit’s gang both of which flourish ‘unabashedly’ under the protective patronage of the local police.
The actors are playing archetypes from popular culture. The leader of the beggars- Narhari Poddar, is a jumpy character, full of ideas to change the failing beggar business and convert his gang into a fake freedom fighters bunch, only to find that his vivacious wife, high on drugs, is unconcerned about their only daughter Phoolan Rani, who goes on to marry a promiscuous dacoit Bhayanak Singh.
What follows is rigmarole of changing colors of the police in a series of comic situations made brighter by the character of Police Inspector -Patti Pandey, played by Pankaj Sharma. Overall, Pandey is symbolically and reality-wise, the best framed character of the production. Wearing a cervical neck collar, his lopsided gait and mannerisms are interesting to watch.
The play was brilliantly executed, using the ‘epic’ style of theatre wherein an actor comes out of its character and jumps back into it. “At specific moments the acting crosses over into a parody of melodrama”, contends its director. The high energy levels, clarity of thought, simple narrative, using rhyming dialogues adds to the thrill of unfolding events and puts them in definite focus, leaving an impactful, thought-provoking message in its conclusion.
Bits of humour add spice to the goings-on in the play. The character of Narhari Poddar, played by a reed-thin actor Sourav Sharma, adds much fun to the streaks of comic relief with his break-dance routine and pelvic thrusts on music and songs of Bollywood.
His drugged wife Manmohini played by Delight William is sheer delight to watch as her mood swings of highs and lows catches one off-guard with her edgy slip of tongue . Ayaan Ali, as Bhayanak Singh dacoit, with his gang is impressive, not in the conventional vision of a ‘daaku’ but as flippy character who often speaks to the audience about their silence, their mute acceptance of corruption just as a daily domestic chore and arouses them not to remain mere spectators. Ifra, the director of the performance also an actor playing the character of Phoolan as a precocious child, is a bundle of laughter, lively with her childish antics and logic. The acting was deliberately loud and exaggerated, giving glimpses of ‘Bhand Pather’- the traditional folk theatre of Jammu & Kashmir.

The costumes and hairstyle of characters appeared to have got much attention from costume designer Delight, Shaheen and makeup artist Manoj Dhamir.

While the set was simple with merely two-three props of a table-chair and a death noose, the lighting was used brilliantly. Other than some gaps, when the stage was left empty, the production was endearing and smooth. Overall, it was an endearing performance of a timeless play that will be remembered by the audiences of Amritsar for a long time.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR ON DEC-19,2012
URL:http://www.risingkashmir.in/news/jammus-youngistan-enthrals-amritsar-38474.aspx

My experience about Newtown, Connecticut …. By RASHMI TALWAR


US KILLING: NEWTON CONNECTICUT DEC 15,2012

US KILLING: NEWTON CONNECTICUT DEC 15,2012

US SCHOOL SHOOTING

My experience about Newtown, Connecticut ……….

By RASHMI TALWAR

In my first look at this quaint town of Newtown, Connecticut, USA, I was swept away by its charm. It was the month of May in 2007 and Maple trees were beginning to sprout their greens after their snowy caps had melted, much like the Chinars (same family) that I love of Kashmir. On the first landing, we had a learning session with my aunt, wherein she gave us vital clues of the town to ward off any ‘gregarious Indian-Ishytle traits’ of lunging-to-help-out or ‘chalta hai’ attitude in India, once things go wrong.

This is the same town that has seen the most dastardly killing of 20 children and six adults in a School by a 20- year old, on December 15, 2012.

During our visit, the instructions were –‘Don’t look too long into the neighbor’s house; don’t stand or stare at a school building; don’t click photos without permission; don’t sit anywhere near a building, only near ponds or parks; don’t use a vehicle, not even a bicycle since it is right hand driving here and the Police will nab you the moment it notices your confusion at road crossings and there would be a hefty fine and explanations, besides an admonition to the host family. These all were precautionary, helpful and kept us in check. They were also not misplaced or deliberately fear-inducing because barely a month before our visit, in mid April of 2007, 32 people at Virginia Tech USA, had been killed by a gunman.

The unobtrusive view of this cute township of Newtown, without front or side dividing walls, tree-lined with the best kept gardens, was a feast for the eyes. The dogs or pets were electronically leashed; sensor spot lights at night, timed lighting in houses were some of its security measures. I noticed the way people strictly obeyed instructions, when a hurricane befell during our stay. The town spread out in about 160 sq. kms. had a robust infrastructure, far more than its meagre population of about 27,000.

When news of killing of 26, including 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown broke on December 15, I was completely shocked and deeply saddened, having spent two months in that quiet peaceful place, considered one of the safest in America. To visualize the splattered ‘color of blood’ in Newtown, where people came from world-over in autumns, to watch the trees turn auburn, gold and reddish radiant, was particularly ironic.

Everyone in Newtown had a car and public transport was nonexistent, it being a non-tourist place. Thumbing a lift was strange and if someone stopped, they would consider you a local who had a problem and then move over all the buying paraphernalia from their loaded car, which they perhaps didn’t have time to download, to make space for you to sit in the passenger seat. Indeed things were beautiful, but not so simple, yet there was an air of being organized, being cautious, being thoughtful and being obedient. It was different and I loved it all.

However, despite the well organized township, there were things that didn’t quite feel normal, for instance there were huge spread out properties with signs of ‘No trespass allowed’ where a ‘single’ person was known to occupy the house. Police kept a vigil on them, but it was wholly abnormal to stay cut-off from the rest of humanity. “If one has no fear of being seen, one can act in unimaginable ways” say psychologists.

In another instance during a flight to Florida, a fellow co-passenger’s statement had got me thinking. “Why doesn’t America do more for people who are going insane, instead of having a liberal gun license policy? Could you imagine the havoc an insane person can unleash with an easy access to guns?” he contended. Perhaps the Virginia Tech 2007 killing was still fresh in his mind.

Another jolting experience was when I happened to ask an American of Indian origin about education in USA, she answered – “Education is very good but it is scary that children bring guns to school.” I was shocked.

Learning of the recent killing in Sandy Hook and its details, it shook me more that Nancy Lanza mother of 20-year old gunman Adam Lanza, possessed ‘three’ licensed weapons, including an automatic gun. I cannot quite understand this ‘gun freedom’ or liberalization.

I only laud the spirit of the people of this place who, after the massive tragedy, came together in support of the grieving families, taking to prayer.

There was no screaming, no irresponsible reporting in media, no chest beating, no arson, no strikes, no blaming the government, no wild-run destroying public property, stone-pelting or any violent means. They just stood locked in a human chain lighting candles in grief, giving solace and support to those who lost their little ‘tulips’ (5 to10 year olds) and steady trees (six adults).

It felt like a healing touch that television channels there aired programmes on how to detect trauma or deal with a traumatized child who had seen or heard the shootout. I hope US introspects its liberalized policy on guns, before it is too late.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN ‘RISING KASHMIR’ ON DECEMBER 20, 2012
URL: http://epaper.risingkashmir.com/20122012/default.asp

Ifra Kak :Theater can be Therapeutic …By Rashmi Talwar


ifra article RK

Ifra Kak :Theater can be Therapeutic …By Rashmi Talwar

Ifra Kak, naturally took to the ‘waters’ of the theatre-world with an ease, that is inborn. A Masters degree holder in Performing Arts (Theatre), from Hyderabad Central University, she has acted in a number of plays and has now emerged as the first woman director, in the vast repertoire of Jammu and Kashmir’s vibrant theatre scene. It is perhaps no mean achievement for a young woman, that too in a male dominated society of her home turf and irrespective of the spate of turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir, that took most of her teenage and formative years, this 26-year old theatre professional, continued to traverse her chosen paths to follow her inherent passion for theatre productions.
In her candid talk with RASHMI TALWAR, Irfa talks about her achievements, her challenges ahead and how she is ready to go the extra mile, to become a name in the International theatre scene.

Q1: Ifra, you have been awarded by JKFMAC (Jammu &Kashmir Film Makers &Artists Cooperative) as the first woman director theatre director of the State of Jammu &Kashmir, what next?

Ans 1: Awards are an acknowledgement of one’s work. But they give one more responsibility to prove again and again that one had deserved it. By no means have I felt that an award is going to make me slack and rest on my laurels, instead, I would like to work doubly hard. I have made my way to the prestigious ‘International Performance Research Programme’ at University of Warwick, UK and I am the first ever woman from Jammu &Kashmir to be selected for such a programme. My dream is to bring my work to the level of International Theatre and to be reckoned in my field. My father Mushtaq Kak is already a noted name in theatre circles worldwide. Considering that aspect, I feel fortunate. But I want to travel my paths on my own merit.

Q2: What are your current projects, do they involve the Kashmir situation?

Ans 2: Presently, I am working on two theatre projects Ariel Dorfman’s “Widows” and a concept performance of “Sordid Tales of Suffering” based on Euripides’ “Trojan Women”. I consistently try to motivate Kashmiri women to participate in theatre and focusing on this aspect, I also conduct theatre workshops for them in Jammu & Kashmir. I am particularly perturbed over the plight of ‘Half Widows in Kashmir’. “Sordid Tales..” – is a concept performance on the atrocities on women in Kashmir. Apart from that, I have done the dramatization of Lydia Avilov’s autobiography “Chekhov in my life” which ‘ was awarded ‘Mahindra Excellence Award’ and was recognized as Best of the Year, production by Sahitya Kala Parishad, New Delhi.

Q3: Do you think theatre can be therapeutic, have you given this aspect a try? How was your experience?

Ans 3: Yes, theatre as an art form can be therapeutic. For this, I had done a fortnight long, spot devised project of a theatre workshop with the inmates of ‘Kot Bhalwal Central jail’ Jammu & Kashmir, which is one of the most sensitive jails of the country. I was the first person of J&K to take that step. It was an experience of a lifetime. I saw inmates from many countries there including from Pakistan and Afghanistan. An unnatural environment of confinement naturally evolves unnatural behavioural patterns of being disturbed, in depression, low self esteem, aggression, silent or rigid.
Someone told me at the outset of the workshop, that Azhar Masud – hardcore terrorist, exchanged for release of passengers of flight IC-814 in 1999 had been housed here. It gave me goose-pimples but after that I concentrated on my task of relieving some of the pent up emotions of many of these hapless prisoners who were remorseful and longed for freedom. The medium of theatre helped them. I particularly remember a young boy who had accidentally committed a murder and for days he did not speak while we conducted the workshop. Then about a week later, his eyes shone, his silence broke and he voluntarily came forward to participate and derive joy from acting. This gave me a big sense of achievement.
Besides this I have also worked with the orphans of Rainbow Home, Hyderabad and Deaf and Dumb children of Ahuti Centre, Hyderabad with good results.

Q4: Have you also been able to widen your creative dimensions through world theatre?

Ans 4: I was fortunate to participate in twelve (12) major workshops in the field of theatre, both before and during my university education. These include -Children’s Theatre Workshop- Dr Sudhir Mahajan, Forum Theatre Workshop-Sruthi Bala (London) -, Scenography Workshop- Deepan Sivaraman (London & India)-, Theatre Management Workshop- Kunt (Norway), Theatre Design Workshop-David Whittan ( Secretary General, IFTR, England)- 2010, Invisible theatre Workshop- Devendra Nath Sankaranarayan; Scenography Workshop- Robin Das (NSD); Acting Workshop- Douglas-Complicite (London)-2010, Community Theatre- Ola Johanson-Switzerland-2010, Advanced Scenography Workshop- Deepan Sivaraman (London& India), Forum Theatre Workshop- Mark- USA-2010, Acting Workshop- Rajesh Tailang- besides various workshops of National School of Drama . I participated in the Bharat Rang Mahotsav which is the biggest International Theatre Festival, conducted by the NSD and also got the opportunity to act in the plays directed by many eminent directors, not only on my home turf , but also outside. Apart from this photography is my other companion.

Q5: Can you name some of the plays that you acted in?

Ans 5: As a child artist I worked in various serials of Doordarshan such as “Habba Khatoon”, “Shikast”, “amma”, “Aastha”, “Rasoolmeer” and others. I have also acted in nearly 14 plays some of which are Mother’s Courage – Sreejith Ramanan; Satya Harischandra – Supriya Shukla; Iphigenia – Satya Brat Rout; Dooth Ghadotkach – Bhoomikeswar Singh; Reflection – Noushad Mohd; Alberts’s Bridge – Mohan Maharshi; “Jameela” – Gargi (NSD); “Accidental Death of an Anarchist- Vijay Kapoor ;’Kanjoos’-play-Neeraj Kant-; and two solo performances in ‘Mantri ji ki Moochh’ and ‘Ram Khilawan’

Q6: How does it feel to work in a man’s world especially in Jammu and Kashmir where ideas of women working in theatre are still very orthodox?

Ans 6: Frankly, it is very difficult. It is very difficult to get a female cast for my plays. I try to motivate women in theatre, not only as a means to creativity but also as an alternate way of livelihood, but the conservative string plays a spoilsport. However, I am not about to give up and shall keep trying to inspire and motivate them.


FIRST PUBLISHED IN ‘RISING KASHMIR’ ON December 15, 2012
http://epaper.risingkashmir.com/15122012/default.asp

Wagah wonder: Border melts on a platter here…………..By Neha Saini


Amritsar, September 10
Days before External Affairs Minister SM Krishna reached Lahore to shake hands with chief minister Shahbad Sharif on Sunday, the warmth in this part of Punjab was being gently stirred up, gastronomically. Near the Attari-Wagah border, the best of cuisines from both sides of Punjab waited to tickle the taste buds. Diplomacy could wait, after all, with Punjabi ‘tadka’ ready to serve up a preamble.

The idea is simple: move on with peace with food as an essential ambassador. So, here it is: ‘Lahori Dum Biryani’, ‘Chapali Kebab’, ‘Miyan-ji-ki-daal’, ‘Lahori bhindi’, ‘Amritsari daal’ ‘Amritsari fish’, ‘bhuna gosht, lassi, kheer, rasmalai, jalebi, firni and what have you.

You are right; a distance of 30km (how far is Lahore, youngsters on this side often ask) isn’t much to proffer a flavour switch. Conceptually, it does. Here’s how.

Walk inside ‘Sarhad’, a stone’s throw from the border. “Our chefs have carefully put together ‘Lahori Thaal’ using spices and flavours from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan,” says Aman Jaspal, the owner. Since fish and mutton are a favourite on both sides, these form the basis of many recipes at ‘Sarhad’.

Aman knows Lahore and its by-lanes. “Amritsar and Lahore share a rich culinary tradition. We want engrossing conversations on cross-border cultural exchanges over a sumptuous meal,” he says.

He has already hosted special guests such as Pakistani filmmaker Ayesha Akram at ‘Sarhad’. Aman quotes her: “It is a simple and an impressive way to bond. Most conversations happen at the dining table.”

The marquee on Sarhad also flaunts a ‘Museum of Peace’. “There are many multimedia displays from the Partition and Pre-Partition days besides pictures, maps, renditions and writings by famous people who witnessed the Partition. Our collection has been sourced from scholars in London researching Indo-Pak relations,” says Aman.

From Lahore
* Mian-ji-ki daal (a medley of five lentils), tawa gurda kapoora, dil, maghaz, chaamp and ‘khusrey de kebab’

From Amritsar

* Kulchas and puris, Amritsari fish, parantha, tandoori chicken, bhuna gosht, lassi, kheer, ras malai, jalebi, firni

THE WRITER IS A CORRESPONDENT WITH THE TRIBUNE

Lahore’s Rashid Rana Puts Us In Our Place….. BY NAYANTARA KILACHAND


Graphics by Rashid Rana


Viewers find a certain delight in the works of Rashid Rana. The Pakistani artist is primarily known for his style of stitching together thousands of digital images of deliberate provocation to form a single image of seeming innocuousness. Take for instance, his “Veil Series”, where pixellated images of porn were placed mosaic-style to form images of women in burkhas. The delight, of course, is partly in discovering the deception afoot, which saddled with all the socio-political implications of porn and Islam and feminism, make for a titillating message.

It’s something that the viewer is likely to “get” whether or not he’s versed in current Pakistani politics, and such is their intrinsic appeal that the Lahore-based Rana has managed to remain both immensely popular and critically loved. Here, in Mumbai for his two-gallery show “Apposite/Opposite”, the 44-year-old Rana lures the viewer in with the same sense of familiarity—we see his mosaic images, recognise the larger form (it’s a horse!) or the smaller stich (it’s a Caravaggio!)—but then having earned our trust, he proceeds to screw with us entirely.

We’re subject to this, for instance, in “Anatomy Lessons Series 3”, which is on display at Chemould Prescott Road gallery (the Chatterjee & Lal leg of the show will open later this week): art history students might recognise it as a detail from Michiel Jansz Van Miereveld’s “Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Willem van der Meer” (everyone else, take a gander at the original here), which shows a naked male body, dissected by a doctor and his students. The work flickers gently on a flatscreen TV, its canvas made up of hundreds of moving images culled from CCTV footage, films and documentaries.

You can just about make out grainy scenes of violence, some of people in an arid landscape of no discernible geographic location, some Big Brother-ly shots of people on streets, doing apparently nothing more than walking. It’s a weird mix of a kind of academic butchery and violence of a more insiduous kind, which through the placement of surveillance presupposes our nature to be bad.

Whatever you do, don’t leave without spending some time with “Desperately Seeking Paradise II”, a mirrored grid installation that from a certain viewpoint reveals itself to be a skyline. Rana says the buildings are an amalgam of various American and European city skylines that are in turn composed of thousands of images of houses in Lahore. It’s the recognition of one kind of trope—the physical might of Western architecture and in turn its economy—layered on a trope of another kind—of something distinctly homegrown, situated in a distinctly Islamic context—that tugs at the conceit that it’s the subcontinent that’s always at the mercy of a Western lens.

In fact, it suggests quite the reverse, that we can’t always be sure who falls under whom in the hierarchy of world order. It also confronts us with the possibility that even though Pakistan, and indeed India, might peg their future prospects on turning into the swanky first-world countries they aspire to become, they’re still just specks, part of the same global mass of humanity

%d bloggers like this: