Published On: Mon, Feb 4th, 2013

Kashmiri Boys and Girls Begging in Kolkata?

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By Dr Syed Nazir Gilani –

Rising Kashmir has reported that “Once known for Nadroo (lotus stem) production, Asia’s largest fresh water lake Wular has stopped producing Nadroo due to the growing pollution and encroachment. The extinction of Nadroo has taken toll on livelihood of thousands.” The esteemed columns of the Daily have further added that “Around 30000 people, living on the banks of Wular were dependent on the Nadroo production of the lake.”

The manner of reporting is very responsible. It has not only reported the likely extinction of  Nadroo but has highlighted growing pollution in the lake as the cause. In the same manner people living in Kashmir, living in India, Pakistan and other parts of the world would have received this news with mixed feelings that young Kashmiri boys and girls are seen begging around railway stations, bus stops, temples, mosques and other public places in Kolkata (Calcutta), West Bengal.  The leading daily Jang of Pakistan, quoting a Srinagar based news agency has carried this news in its Friday February 1st 2013 issue.

The newspaper has carried an interesting  caption titled, “Kolkata main Kashmiri Mujahideen aur Jido Jahdeh Aazadi Kay Khilaf Sasish Beniqab”. According to the news item Kashmiri traders and other Kashmiris staying in Kolkata for other works have taken exception to these humiliating scenes and have reported the matter to a news agency in Srinagar.

As a start one finds a serious issue with  the mind set of these Kashmiri traders and other Kashmiris staying in Kolkata in taking an exception of this manner. Begging of course is a social evil and there are laws to deal with it. One would not wish to see any young boy and girl of any background to be begging in Kolkata or in any other State of India. The instant remedy or a decent reflex should have been to make an approach to these Kashmiri boys and girls and ascertain the cause of travelling a long distance from Kashmir and begging in Kolkata. The follow up should have been to set up an emergency fund and arrange an accommodation until alternate means of income could have been considered locally or the Government of Jammu and Kashmir informed to provide for their decent living in Kashmir.

Emotionalizing the issue and tainting the youth by these Kashmiri traders and other Kashmiris staying in Kolkata as “Kolkata main Kashmiri Mujahideen aur Jido Jahdeh Aazadi Kay Khilaf Sasish Beniqab”, is un-understandable. If begging out of desperation of Kashmiri boys and girls is a ‘conspiracy against “Mujahideen aur Jido Jahdeh Aazadi” on the streets of Kolkata, then doing trade or staying in Kolkata should also be treated in the same manner. In fact the issue of begging is a shame for us all because Kolkata is offering two different kinds of refuge to the people of Kashmir.

If the streets of Kashmir have dried up for even begging it should alarm us all. It should alarm the State Government, main stream political parties, Hurriyat, non Hurriyat groups, civil society and the society as a whole. Under article 19 of the Constitution The State has a duty to provide “work and public assistance,” and under articles 21 and 22 State  has to protect the rights of Children and rights of Women.

In this situation Hurriyat, non Hurriyat groups and militant leaderships have a direct role and immediate responsibility to address. The authors of 1990 politics, diplomacy and militancy have accrued an on-going responsibility towards the Kashmir youth living today or towards the families whose youth have died. They should have known it that in the event of a tension between national security and civil liberties during political and militant crises, the crises would vote in favour of the State to reassess the civil rights and liberties.

When people fear that their security is threatened, they often are willing to acquiesce in incursions of civil liberties as a perceived trade-off to gain a sense of greater personal safety. When people feel secure, they are inclined to bridle at even minor constraints on their personal liberties. The Instrument of Accession with India is an example of such trade-off to gain a sense of greater personal safety in the State, which was threatened by Tribesmen.

In addition to the Government of Kashmir and the Government of India, political and militant leadership in Kashmir and the support of Pakistan remain morally and legally responsible in regard to the youth and the common man and woman in Kashmir. Hurriyat should address the issue of Kashmiri youth and the general welfare of the people of Kashmir in accordance with the OIC Resolution passed at the Islamic Summit in December 1994 in Casablanca, Morocco.

It was resolved in a resolutions on Kashmir passed at the Islamic Summit that , “the Member States, OIC, and the Islamic Institutions, such as the Islamic Solidarity Fund and philanthropists to mobilize funds and contribute generously towards providing humanitarian assistance to the Kashmiri people.”  For the last 19 years 57 Islamic countries, OIC, Islamic Institutions and philanthropists have been contributing towards the humanitarian assistance of the people of Kashmir. Hurriyat leadership has been attending all OIC meets since December 1994 and should be well aware of the level of funds received so far and the manner in which these funds have been handled by the Government of Pakistan and their accredited leadership in Kashmir and many other parts of the world.

In addition to the Constitutional duties of the Government of Kashmir at Srinagar and Government of India, Hurriyat should not be allowed to function at all unless it has a convincing narrative in 2013 to lead us in our Rights Movement and much more has to explain the reasons for sitting as spectators in the continued loss of a generation, loss of honour, loss of dignity and the economic collapse, which has driven Kashmiri boys and girls to beg at public places in Kolkata.

If Hurriyat does not have the political phrase or an iota of concern to mention the death of a generation and consequent death of self-determination, massive unemployment, question of widows, orphans  and the massive humanitarian work required in Kashmir during its meetings with the High Commissioner of Pakistan in Delhi or their hyped meetings with the officials in the Government of Pakistan in Islamabad, how would it feel itself as a legitimate leadership? What does Hurriyat leadership state in its script which it reads at various OIC meetings or other international forums?

Politics in Kashmir seems to have degenerated to a badly beaten phrase of a ‘dialogue’ with India or airing of a demand when and as required of including the Kashmiri leadership in any future dialogue between India and Pakistan. One fails to understand why should there be a request to India and Pakistan to recognize ‘Hurriyat’ or any ‘other’ for inclusion in their bilateral dialogue? It should have been India and Pakistan requesting the Kashmiri leadership (people of Kashmir) to enter into a dialogue with these two countries to settle their grievances.

Kashmiri leadership does not have any regard of the fact that States have to remain legitimate through the essential source of individual’s consent. Therefore, States have to empower the individual and devote itself to maximize the individual’s opportunity. It is unfortunate that our leadership in particular a faction of Hurriyat rushes to Islamabad to seek its legitimacy, which does not have any connection with its legitimacy with reference to its people at home.

Our leaders have never raised the question of injury caused to ‘life’, ‘honour’ and ‘property’ in Kashmir, the question of Mangla Revenue due to the people of Kashmir, Revenue in regard to the use of Kashmiri waters and natural resources and the question of Kashmir Properties spread in various parts of Pakistan with the authorities in Islamabad. The leadership has never raised the issue of 2.5 million Kashmiri refugees (five generations) living in AJK and Pakistan and a Kashmir which is uncertain of its future.

Hurriyat has to revisit its political and militant wisdom and make an honest appraisal of its achievements and failures from early 1990. It has to draw a line between its arranged reciprocity with the State apparatus in Delhi and Islamabad and its duties to the people of the State living in the three administrative set ups on either side of the cease fire line and the Diaspora.

The young boys and girls found begging at public places in Kolkata are the victims of our failed Rights  Movement. Our youth face a similar present and a bleak future in their homes and streets of Kashmir. The answer lies in finding the fate of funds received  in the last  19 years from 57 Islamic countries, OIC, Islamic Institutions and philanthropists towards the humanitarian assistance of the people of Kashmir.

Author is London based Secretary General of JKCHR – NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.  He could be reached on email

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