Militancy-hit villagers sell cattle to prevent losses
Shariq Majeed
Tribune News Service

Shahdara Sharief (Rajouri), December 16
There has been a fall in the offering of ghee by local devotees at the revered shrine of Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah.

Reason: Farmers of the area, predominantly nomads (Gujjars and Bakkarwals), have largely sold out their cattle due to heavy damages suffered to the livestock during militancy.

Villagers here say due to violence in the valley they have suffered heavy financial losses due to death or physical injury to their cattle, which prompted them to sell their cattle to prevent further losses.

“A buffalo or a cow costs in thousands. We suffered losses due to death or injury to our cattle during gunfights or blasts. So to avoid the losses, most of the villagers here have sold off their cattle,” says Qazi Abdul Majeed, a resident.

“With the fall in the population of livestock in the area, milk production has taken a hit. This resulted in less offering of ghee at the shrine,” he adds.

Confirming the decrease in the offering of ghee, an official in the management of the shrine says in the pre-militancy days, the quantity of ghee offered would range between 10 and 20 kg on daily basis.

“In the early years of 1990's, the local devotees would offer 10-20 kg of ghee daily, but now the quantity has been reduced to 2-3 kg per day,” he says.

Besides ghee, other offerings at the shrine include poultry and poultry products, cattle, money and other items, he adds.

DIG, Rajouri-Poonch range, Kamal Saini says now that things are inching towards normalcy, villagers must be feeling a lot secure.

"We have been successful in checking militant activities in the area which should give confidence to the locals. Hopefully they will keep more and more cattle,” the DIG says.



Despite odds, they maintain law and order
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 16
Despite pulls and pressures, they quietly discharge their duties keeping a vigil in the militancy-hit state.

Guarding key installations and crowded places in the winter capital, a closer peep into their lives shows how CRPF jawans, who come from all parts of the country, work under demanding situations to maintain the law and order.

“Though we do have a sense of satisfaction because we serve the country, yet the nature of job we perform is full of challenges”, said a CRPF jawan, Pradeep Kumar, guarding the arterial expressway along with his colleagues.

Pradeep, an arts graduate, who hails from Allahabad says, "We have no fixed timings and at times we have to perform duties for even 16 hours."

A few CRPF jawans outside the historical Raghunath Temple, though looking full of patriotism, felt that people at the helm of affairs should also provide them better facilities, besides ensuring the well-being of their families back home.

On condition of anonymity, a CRPF constable said at the month-end “I get Rs 11,100 for a job full of uncertainties and where a jawan has to perform duties on a rotational basis for even 18 hours”.

At a time when inflation had hit the rich and the poor alike, a paltry sum of Rs 11,000 for a job where one had to put one’s life in the line of duty, was not sufficient, he added.

“Though I have no grudges to join the CRPF, meager earnings and domestic problems back home do haunt several other jawans. It would have been a lot better for us if we too can keep our families, at least at the group centres”, he said.

No doubt, the CRPF has provided family life to some jawans in various group centres in the state, but 90 per cent of them still live without families, he adds.

“Whether during incessant rain, snowfall in the winter or soaring mercury in the summer, we never give in and perform our duties with utmost honesty and sincerity.But like any other human being, families back home continue to haunt us”, said another jawan from Kottayam.

However, another jawan from Dibrugarh, who had a long stint in militancy-infested Doda district, said he missed action in Jammu.

“Amidst maddening traffic and hustle bustle of city life, it appears that none has the time to stop for a while and think about these jawans, but I think that we the people owe a lot to them because they work round-the- clock to provide us security”, said Neha Aggarwal, a Jammu University student.



Project to save endangered deer
Tejinder Singh Sodhi
Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 16
The wildlife department of the state in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India has initiated an ambitious project to save the endangered deer species of “hangul”.

This variety of red deer is restricted in the reserve forests of the Dachigam wildlife sanctuary in the foothills of the Zabarwan mountain ranges in Srinagar.

An enclosure on a five- acre area in the Shikargah Wildlife Conservation Reserve in the Tral area of South Kashmir's Pulwama district will be built.

The project that has been named as "Save the hangul" project would come up as per the 'natural distribution pattern' of the species 30 to 40 years ago.

"The project that would help us save the endangered species from near-extinction would help monitor their breeding habits in the closely monitored environment”, Naseer Ahmed Kitchloo, regional wildlife warden, said.

To be constructed with the aid and guidelines of the Central Zoo Authority which has already released a grant of Rs 42.50 lakh for the project, the enclosure would help increase the population of the wild stag, whose population has dwindled from many thousands to less than 150 in the past two decades.

The enclosure that is one amongst various steps taken by the state government and the wildlife department to save the near- extinct species would also help in the breeding of the endangered animal in controlled environment.

"The infrastructure that is expected to be ready by April next year would have cabins for veterinarians and guards that would facilitate round-the- clock monitoring of the animal." Kitchloo said.

In the first phase of the project, 10 “hanguls” in the male-female ratio of 3:7 would be kept in the enclosure for breeding and after monitoring the 'success' of the first phase, the number of hanguls would be increased.In the enclosure,”hangul” would be managed and monitored by the experts and after it grows it would be released in the wild.

"The enclosure that is being constructed is according to the distribution pattern of the animal that used to exist earlier.After the breeding of the animal, it would be released in the wild habitat," Kitchloo said.

Earlier also, the state wildlife department had taken various measures to protect the near- extinct species by fitting them with satellite- operated radio collars.



Traditional shoemaking faces extinction
Sunaina Kaul
Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 16
When it comes to shoemaking, particularly ladies’ slippers with gold and silver- threaded uppers, Jammu's name once used to figure after Anarkali Bazaar of Lahore.

While Anarkali Bazaar has preserved the trade, in Jammu it has given way to readymade shoes and slippers of Chinese make. The trade has now been reduced to repair work.

Fatu Chowgan, a market in the interior of Jammu city, had a lane with around 250 shops of ladies footwear and slipper makers, but now there is none. They have switched over to other businesses like shoepolishing, selling vegetables and fruits while some have opened cosmetics shops. Among them only two are doing the business of repairing footwear.

Similarly, there was a market of local cobblers in Ragunathpura and another in Gumat Bazar, but there also the business is not visible.

Kartar Chand Angral, a cobbler, has been mending shoes in a shop situated at Fatu Chowgan for the past 47 years. Although his younger son, Ajay, and his nephew, Gyan Chand, are also helping him in his trade, Kartar Chand knows a day will come when he will shut his shop forever.

"Cheaply made shoes from China, Delhi and Agra have prompted our customers to opt for footwear made of plastic or other synthetics. Now, I purchase readymade shoes from the market at low prices and sell them at my shop. Besides, I also repair shoes," avers Kartar Chand,adding "these fancy shoes,though, do not match the quality of the original ones and need the services of a cobbler soon."

"The slippers and juttis were made of pure leather and the manufacturing process, from cutting, colouring and manufacture was laborious which made our products costly for the customers. The present stuff of ladies slippers are made of synthetic raw material which hardly suffice for one season. Nowadays quality and life of a product is not a criterion for its purchase. The cost and look is the consideration of the customers," said Kartar Chand.

He said that earlier pilgrims and tourists used to purchase 25-30 pairs of shoes and slippers from them daily and now they were not able to sell even a single pair of shoe in a day. "I think this trade will be completely wiped out in the next few years," he said.

His son, Ajay, said, "I have been working here for the past two years, but I do not have interest in this work. I want to do any government job even at lower wages instead of it." Gyan Chand also expressed similar views although he has been in the business since the last 16 years.



Jammu University
Lack of facilities dampens spirit of students
Ashutosh Sharma
Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 16
A resolve to develop abilities to the fullest, challenges on the academic front, mounting family responsibilities and an urge to enjoy golden days of youth collectively mark students’ state of mind on the campus in Jammu University (JU).

Normally, students enter the campus with a lot of zeal and determination to gain potential knowledge, but scarce access to the teaching faculty, want of appreciation, outdated books in the library, poor access to Internet labs and inefficient examination system dampen their spirits.

“I am highly impressed by the kind of infrastructure at JU, but the scenario is dismal academically and administratively,” said a student of the first semester in the department of sociology, pleading anonymity.

He said the teachers though efficient were not willing to disseminate knowledge. “They don’t help the students to groom their skills. My first encounter with the teaching faculty was disappointing when I had to get my documents attested for admission to the postgraduation course,” he disclosed.

A research scholar of history from a far-off area, said:“I did not get hostel facility in the first year of my postgraduation. Most of the money was spent on rent while I had to spend a lot of time in cooking and other petty affairs.”

“It was only after the third semester that I learnt about competitive exams like the NET, JRF and UPSC exams- the only few opportunities at the discretion of students of social sciences,” he said, and added that it needed an "exceptional patience and courage" for conducting research in any department at JU in the absence of financial assistance.

“Dignity of the students is undermined mostly. Inefficient candidates got recruited on the campus while meritorious were sidelined till recently,” he rued and expressed hope that the new vice-chancellor would do his bit in this regard.

“After doing the JRF, I got selected for M.Phil at JU this year. I am not in a position to join my research work. I am yet to get my degree for MA as results for the final semester are still awaited," he added.

“Due to delayed results, I am bound to waste one year. I did JRF and got selected for research in JU, but results for the final semester are awaited," said Sewang Galtson, a student of political science and added that there was no scope for Ladakh students as there was not even a single employee in the entire JU campus except for one in the department of physical education, who had been engaged on a deputation basis.

Rashid Choudhary, a student of Botany and researcher in “conservation sciences”, opines, “Our varsity lags behind premier universities of the country and world when it comes to research work. Most of the teaching faculty relies on outdated information.”He also rued that researcher's dignity was undermined at the campus, both at the hands of the teaching and the non-teaching staff.

Meanwhile, dean, academic affairs B.P.S. Sehgal,though admitting slackness on part of teachers regarding the prevailing examination system, maintained that consistent efforts were being made to improve it.

Saying that the teaching faculty was very friendly, he stressed that scholars would have to bridge the gap, if any, between teachers and students. “Shortly, the rest of the departments will get equipped with computers and the Internet facility for the students.”



80-yr-old’s lone fight for survival
Afsana Rashid

Hajra Bano
Hajra Bano

Srinagar, December 16
As the world observed the International Day of Human Rights recently, 80-year-old Hajra Bano fights a lone battle for justice.

A resident of Wanigam village of Bandipora district, Hajra is a symbol of courage. She is up against many odds and the flame to live on motivates her to march ahead.

She has lost four sons in violence in the valley. While three were militants and one went missing.

With no one to look after, she has filed a case in the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), although she is not satisfied with its progress.

Hajra lived with her ailing husband till he passed away last winter. With great difficulty the couple eked out their living. Now, left to fend for her own, she hardly finds anyone to share her agonies and trauma.

She feels guilty saying that she is not in a position to repay her husband's debts.

"Since I am left with no money, I sold my hen to a neighbour and made arrangements for Eid-ul-Azha,” says Hajra.

Till recently, Hajra lived with her younger son "who later abandoned her”. Now, Hajra herself has to look for necessities.

“This morning, I simply had black nun-chai (tea without milk) as I cannot afford milk. I take meal once a day. One of my neighbours donated a sack of raw rice to me," she says.

Owing to serious health problem, Hajra underwent surgery few months back. "I often miss medicines due to non-affordability," she says.

Hajra continues, "As my pains turn unbearable I wish to dig a grave for myself, but death is beyond one's control”.

An apt case for widow fund, Hajra is yet to be enlisted in this category. "It involves cumbersome procedure and who will take all the pain to get it sanctioned in my favour," says Hajra in a fragile voice.



Happy times for Dogri language
Rajesh Bhatt

Jammu, December 16
It is merry time for all those espousing the cause of the Dogri language. This Christmas, for the first time since the language got included in the Eighth Schedule, a Dogri play is being simultaneously broadcast from all major stations of the All-India Radio (AIR) in the country.

And the happiest man seems to be none other than Mohan Singh, a well-known theatre personality and writer of this play, who had spearheaded the movement a few years ago for giving due recognition to the language of the Dogras, spoken in Jammu division, parts of Himachal Pradesh and in some areas of Pakistan, bordering the state.

"Such moments are definitely to be cherished and remembered as they help promote the language with more vigour and conviction and is the fruition of the labour that people like us undertook," says Mohan Singh, whose play, "Kala Suraj", is to be broadcast under AIR’s National Programme of Plays on December 25 at 10.30 pm.

And there is more in store for the connoisseurs of the language. According to the Prasar Bharati communiqué, the master script of the 60-minute Dogri play has already been circulated among all non-Hindi stations, for production in their respective regional languages.

Incidentally, this play has been translated into Hindi by none other than Padma Sachedev, the noted Dogri poetess and recipient of Padma Shree in 2000. I.A. Khan has done the play's radio adaptation.

Mohan Singh says the Dogri play transcends the sense of time and has a universal appeal of theme and treatment. It exposes the double standards prevalent in the socio-political system.

The play highlights the deterioration of the human values in society and hypocrisy and double standards that have mired our conscience. "It also shows how politicians stoop too low in their day to day dealings and it seems politics is the vocation of the thick skinned," says Mohan Singh while explaining the central idea of the play.

The writer says: "Kala Suraj mainly throws light on politicians' doublespeak and lust for power. They at times swear by the Gandhian philosophy or project a heightened sense of esteem for Karl Marx, but the next very moment exploit both of them and are bundle of contradictions themselves. For them the end justifies the means and the end is always their power lust."

Author of 11 books, the state government in October awarded Mohan Singh with the Life Time Award for Excellence in Dogri literature for his book, "Dogri Rang Manch".



Road repair poses problems
Seema Sharma
Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 16
People living and working in Shastri Nagar, Gandhi Nagar and Nanak Nagar are having a harrowing time with black smoke billowing over in these areas.

At various stretches in the pockets such as Nirankari Bhawan, Ram Temple, Modi Road and Extension Road, labourers engaged in the repair of roads boil bitumen in the open which is not permissible and is a health hazard.

Says Joginder Singh,a shopkeeper:” It has become difficult for us to breath. We keep on asking the workers as well as contractors to boil the bitumen mixture properly so that people nearby do not get affected, but nothing seems to have worked till now. Even the administration has failed to take notice of our complaints”.

Various environmental agencies too have raised their voices. A.K Sharma, vice-president, J& K Environment Welfare Sansthan, said:” The way the road repair work is being carried out is a defiance of the Environment Protection Act, 1986. Gases such as carbon monoxide, sulpher dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and deadly dioxins are dangerous for human health”.

Top officials in neither the Municipal Corporation(MC) nor the PWD have any inkling of the works being undertaken in these areas in an improper method. Said Purushotam Kumar Sharma, MC commissioner: “I have no knowledge about road repair work being done in these areas. The MC is not involved. It must be the job of the road and building wing of the PWD”.

When contacted,PWD officials also expressed ignorance. A senior official confirmed:”These must be potholes or small stretches of road being repaired. We cannot afford to have boilers for such short stretches”.

But he also admitted that bitumen could not be boiled in this manner. “I will supervise the works and take the necessary steps”, he said

Mayor Kavinder Singh too assured quick action: “I have been busy with the elections. So, I could not keep track of anything else. But I will look into the matter and find out who is responsible for it. It is certainly a serious matter”.



Residents rue MC apathy
Sunaina Kaul
Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 16
Unhygienic conditions of some localities, which fall under municipal limits, belie the claims of the Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) of keeping the city neat and clean.

Residents of the Roop Nagar Enclave, Saraswati Vihar and Poonch House (Talab Tillo) localities are living in a hell-like situation.

The major problem that they are facing is of open plots that have turned into dumping grounds in the absence of dustbins and in turn serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and flies, besides spreading foul smell in the area.

Sham Lal Sharma, a resident of Poonch House, said: “Those who pass through this road have to hold their breath due to this foul smell. Even the safai karamcharis of the corporation also dump garbage in these plots.”

Marking similar allegations, Sushma Bhat, a resident of Saraswati Vihar said: “The Municipal Corporation has failed to maintain cleanliness in our area. Garbage bins overflow with waste material that lies scattered on the main road but the corporation cares two hoots to lift the garbage bin in time.”

The condition of the roads in these localities is also pitiable. Mohit Verma, a resident of Saraswati Vihar, said: “The condition of the road that leads to our locality is pathetic. Earlier it was metalled road but when ERA constructed a main drain in-between it, after completing their work they left it without laying black top over it.”

The condition of the main drain in Poonch House and Roop Nagar Enclave is also poor. The drain that passes through Poonch House always remains blocked with polythene bags and garbage.

“The Municipal Corporation does not bother to clear the drain,” Rakesh Sharma, a resident of the area said.



Rain exposes poor infrastructure

A single spell of shower in the ongoing winter season has exposed the poor infrastructure of the winter capital as also the tall claims of the Jammu Municipal Corporation authorities.

Choked sewers and inundated roads are a common sight in the residential areas of the city. To add to the residents' woes, some government agency is digging roads to lay underground cables.

It is sad that the MC authorities failed to have a proper sewerage system in the city in over 60 years.

The state of the general bus stand is also pathetic and things there go from bad to worse if it rains, leaving a bad impression on those visiting the city for the first time.

The authorities should take note of the people's problems and address these at
the earliest.

Jitender Kumar, Jammu

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