CUK students stage protest, demand Muzamil’s release

KU Student Arrest Row

IRFAN RASHID

SRINAGAR:

Extending its support to the release of Kashmir University student Muzamil, the students of central university of Kashmir Monday rocked the campus with slogans demanding release of Muzamil instantly.
The students from all departments joined the protests which were held infront of the University Library.  Students were chanting slogans against Police for detaining Muzamil and also against Kashmir University authorities for their ‘inhuman attitude’.
“We want immediate release of Muzamil, we CUK students are in full support of our brothers in KU, if he is not released then we will intensify our protests also,” asserted CUK students with banners in hands. The students were carrying placards reading “Muzamil—A student not a terrorist”, “In solidarity with Muzamil”, “Free Muzamil”. The state police had issued a statement to the press on Wednesday, two days after Muzamil was detained, saying: “Police has arrested Muzamil Farooq, son of Farooq Ahmad, resident of Gandebagh of Pulwama for his links with militants. He was wanted in a case under FIR No. 90 of Police Station Rajbagh.” In the meantime, many people from the Valley also joined the chorus for his release on social networking sites with #FreeMuzamil garnering scores of mentions on Twitter.

No kidding, Srinagar’s children park endangers lives

IRFAN RASHID

SRINAGAR:

Children’s play has long been considered to have a key role in their well-being and the development of their future life, but a children’s park situated in the heart of Srinagar city, meant for recreation and amusement of children, is putting their lives at greater risks.
Owing to the official indifference the park named ‘Gulshan-e-Atfaal’ meaning ‘Garden for Kids’ just adjacent to Allama Iqbal Park is in essence ‘Danger for Kids’ because the slides and swings here are damaged and corrugated.
In European countries the governments publish safeguarding strategy for children and in this part of the world the governments pride themselves in laying foundation stones, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Ishfaq Sheikh, a business from Chadoora, came here with his wife and five-year old daughter, Tooba, thinking that his girl child would entertain herself inside the park for some moments only to return disenchanted.
 “Before returning to Chadoora I thought why not make my daughter happy in the park, but it is really sad to return without providing any recreation to her,” Mr. Sheikh said.
Srinagar’s ‘Gulshan-e-Atfaal’ has hardly anything to offer for children’s amusement and entertainment.
The benches here have accumulated rust while the slides and swings are in such a terrible condition that instead of providing any entertainment these can lead to serious injury or even death to a child using them for amusement.
The park is in a shambles.
At the entrance gate the adults, usually the parents, pay fee to get inside the park without getting the receipts, as a matter of routine. Once they enter with an aim to make their children happy they are forced to make a quick exit because of the dilapidated condition of the park.
A spot visit to the park confirms that there is no maintenance and safety plan in place.
Maymoona Jan, a housewife, paid a visit to the park with her eight-year old son Jibran. But she too returned unsatisfied and disappointed.
 “I am here with my son, Jibran. I had thought we will have some fun and rest. We can’t even sit on these corroded benches. The grass is wet because of the incessant rain a day before,” she said.
The park was thrown open for public some nine years ago and it appears no one has bothered for maintenance and improving the safety standards since. There are visible wide cracks on sliding surfaces, thereby risking children safety.
As one enters the park, walks a few meters and turns left, a big fracture in the blue-colored 12-feet high slide welcomes you. Any child can easily fall down, hit the ground and receive wounds after sliding on it.
There is no dearth of benches inside the park. But there is dearth of clean and suitable benches.
After the devastating floods of September 2014 the authorities have not even troubled themselves to renovate and maintain the park for children. Only last week the public transport station points were changed in the city. Since then vehicles coming from Nowgam and Kanipora usually stop here just at the main entrance gate of the children’s park. The buses not only act as barricades in front of the park, but also emit enormous pollution.
 “Look what has happened to the flowers and plants, they have dried up due to this pollution emanating from vehicles,” said Khalid Bhat, a university student and park visitor.
Director Floriculture, Sunil Mishri, when contacted by Rising Kashmir for his comment on the official apathy he confessed that the park has not been renovated properly.
 “We have restored electricity and water and are now in process of restoring the landscape. Very soon we will restore the damaged equipments also,” Mishri said.
Asked why there was no warning system for children in place to keep them away from damaged infrastructure, he said: “I am right now issuing instructions to keep the alert system in the park.”

Drug addiction consumes Kashmir’s youth

A call for ‘jihad’ against drug addiction in Valley

Irfan Rashid

SRINAGAR:

Despite Kashmir being historically a “low drug addiction zone,” the place appears to have “lost its innocence” in recent times. Many young boys and girls continue to fall prey to drug addiction for variety of reasons in the Kashmir valley and sadly the situation continues to be grim in relation to substance abuse, as the data from valley’s two drug de-addiction centres serves a chilling reminder. Mostly youth in the age group of 18-35 fall in the trap. Statistics to this effect are alarming.
At least 127 patients, including a 15-year old girl, were admitted as inpatients in the department of Psychiatry, Government Medical College, Srinagar, while the data from March 2014 until March 2015 reveals that 193 patients were treated in Outpatient department that included two girls. Besides, 111 patients have been given OST treatment.
The post-flood results at Drug De-addiction Centre at Police Control Room (PCR), Srinagar is equally disturbing. The total number of cases registered for inpatient is 138, out of which 67 have been discharged. Presently, 11 patients are admitted here while 60 others are on the waiting list. According to the data from last four months, 265 more are registered with Outpatient department.
A study by a leading psychiatrist had earlier revealed that more than 200,000 people in the Kashmir valley alone were on opiates while 5623 persons, under the National Mental Health programme, treated for substance abuse in 2012.
Stressing on the need to be pro-active to fight drug abuse, valley’s leading psychiatrist Dr. Arshad Hussain told Rising Kashmir that everyone has a role to play.
“All of us have a role in defeating substance abuse. The pharmacists have become sensitive to the issue and together with some effective steps taken by Drug Controller there is already a decline in use of medicinal opiates and benzodiazepines from our regular pharmacies, but the drug users have started exploiting non-distribution channels where our police have to be vigilant. Schools and teachers ought to be pro-active, we are increasingly seeing kids brought to us for substance related problems, they usually become victim in schools,” he said.
Echoing Dr Arshad’s views, Dr Muzzafar Khan, Director Drug De-addiction Centre at Police Control Room in Srinagar adds that “addicts lose control of their minds under the influence of drugs.”
About the role of the police in controlling drug menace, the IGP Kashmir, SJM Gillani, said that his department was trying its best.
 “We are trying our best as our PCR is already working and we have set up district level centres at Anantnag and Baramulla.”
Asked about how drugs are available so easily, he answered: “I think there is a gap somewhere.”
Talking to ‘Rising Kashmir’, Kashmir’s head priest Mirwaiz Molvi Umar Farooq appealed to Kashmir’s youth to refrain from such practices.
“It is a co-incidence that this day falls in Ramadhan, this holy month encourages us to do away with the shortcomings prevalent in our society. The drug abuse is one of our biggest challenges facing our youth. Sadly, the addiction here has affected thousands,” he said.
Case Study:
He did not want to be named. So we call him Raqib. For him it is the first day of treatment at Srinagar’s Drug-de addiction centre. Sitting in front of a head medical counselor, preferring his right foot over the left, as if scratching, his whole body trembling in fear, and enters his father after seeking permission from the director to stay with his son in this delicate moment. But, as a general rule, one can’t stay there for long.
Raqib, 16, small bony-faced, beard still in their roots, burning scar above right eyebrow and hoarse voiced, is the latest victim of growing drug addiction menace. Till last night, no one knew this side of Raqib, the addict, though symptoms and suspicion always existed.
At times he would be aggressive with his father, but the family considered his odd behaviour as normal teenage temperament, when children do enter into verbal brawls with parents.
Raqib’s father is an influential businessman who could easily earn nearly Rs 1 lakh a day under normal circumstances. But because of his son’s problem of substance abuse he was forced to shut down his business for hours.
As any normal father would do in such circumstances, Raqib’s dad too would accompany him to school instead of leaving him alone in the school bus, fearing he may bunk his classes.
Though his father knew Raqib as a part-timer smoker but had not in his wildest of his imaginations thought of his son falling prey to drug abuse. Police, however, suspects Raqib to be even involved in drug smuggling.
The first week of Ramdhan cleared the blurred image. Raqib’s father got to know the bitter reality: his son is a drug addict.
As Raqib breaks fast at Iftaar and prepares to go to the mosque for offering late evening prayers, Taraweeh.
 “Mummy, I’ll be back after Taraweeh from another colony’s Masjid, so I’ll be a little late but please don’t worry,” Raqib’s father quotes his son having said so.
Eventually, Raqib returned at 11 in the night. He silently entered his room.
Waking up in the middle of night, his father hears some chatter going on in Raqib’s room.
“I was shocked to see an unknown boy with my son in the midst of the night and more shocking was the fact that dozens of small packets containing cannabis lying scattered in the room,” he says.
When Raqib’s father tried to enquire why his son had lied he was up for another shocker: “I am a Kaafir (infidel)…Papa, go to hell…don’t rebuke my friend…don’t talk to me.”
They smoke it, sniff it, eat it, and temporarily escape into a deceptive world.
The big boy with whom Raqib was found in his room happens to be son of a renowned doctor from Kashmir. Instead of making sure his son gets properly treated he has abandoned him.
These two guys would take drugs merely to sound cool and to make a style statement among their peers.
Finally, the police caught hold of Raqib, after his own father after exhausting all options called up the police.
Because of Raqib’s age he was not sent to prison. He received treatment at Drug de-addiction centre.
Police initially wanted to admit Raqib to Government Psychiatric Diseases Hospital in Srinagar for a month.
As Dr Arshad points out that “we are debating whether drug addiction is a social problem, a legal problem or a medical issue. Substance abuse is eating on the very social fabric. We are bound to witness rising crime rates.”
In Dr Muzzafar’s opinion victims like Raqib are vulnerable to heinous crimes.
“When such boys have no money they can be easily motivated to throw bombs against paltry amounts. The menace of drug addiction has gripped the city, mostly youngsters are falling into the trap.” he concludes.
Treatment of substance user is done in four steps. Motivation where counselor, religious leaders and family has a role; followed by de-toxification process wherein de-addiction centres play their role; followed by maintenance wherein community, health system and society has a role followed by rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is absolutely missing. No one is working for their rehabilitation.

‘Sharing is caring’

Awareness camp on ‘Stress Management’ held at Nowhatta School

IRFAN RASHID

SRINAGAR:

Aiming to help overcome daily stress faced by school-going girls, the Help Foundation in collaboration with Maryam Wellness Centre organized one-day awareness camp-cum -sensitization programme at Government Girls’ higher secondary school, Nowhatta today.
The themes of the programme were “Stress and its management—Role of teachers and parents” and “Factors influencing learning — the solutions”.
In her key note address Principal, Dr Mumtaz, said that it was important to do physical exercise for de-stressing in today’s stressful era.
The camp received an overwhelming response as hundreds of girl students attended, who were benefited by the interactions with various psychological counselors as resource persons. Speaking on the Theme-I, Shaista, Mental Health Counselor, said: “There are two types of stresses: one, positive and that is good and the other which is negative and therefore dangerous. You are quite young, but remember the stress increases with age.”
Stressing upon the need to develop good relationship with parents to overcome stress, she said: “We should share stress and other related experiences with our family and friends that helps a lot. And, as they say, sharing is caring.” She further emphasized on diet and exercise of stressed people and advised: “You should always take healthy meals…never skip meals…do a lot of meditation and nostril breathing.” Make diary for reading habits…don’t make studies stressful…observe nature…watch informative TV programmes…and don’t always stay alone.”
Later the students were divided into two groups for activities: one to share problems and the other for giving solution. Group A wanted to know how to overcome stress with rift between Mom and Dad relationship, to which Group B came up with this solution. “Hold sessions with each of the parents individually and counsel them like they counseled you when you were kids.”
To overcome stage fear and stress, few students were asked to come on stage and share their experiences and even some jokes. Continuing, Mr Muzammil Wagay, a professional social worker, spoke on Theme-II and said: “Learning is a process which is more crucial to every organism. It is a continuous process which goes on while we pursue our goals.” He talked about the ways that influence learning in students’ and said: “The factors can be personal like aptitude, emotional make-up or environmental like socialization, ecological set-up. We have to deal with the factors at separate levels to resolve the things that hamper our learning.” Concluding, Dr Muzaffar Khan, noted Psychiatrist asked certain questions to the students, for instance, “How many of you feel stressed, how many weep after stress, how many want to end their lives out of stress, how many over-eat or under-eat during stress?”

Flexible CUCET marks: students left in tight corners

IRFAN RASHID

Srinagar:

If you have checked the Central Universities Common Entrance Test scorecard and became contented with your marks, this is time for you to check it again one more time as the marks may have dipped or even improved overnight.
Rising Kashmir office is pouring in with calls from many students who appeared in CUCET 2015 to confirm a berth in Central University of Kashmir but the students remained shocked after their marks changed overnight on the result website http://www.cucet2015.co.in.
When Yasmeen Jan with roll number 219139 first time checked her scorecard on 18 June, the day of uploading of scorecards on the website, she got 29 points and had some chances to get under cut-off. But when she again checked after two days, she remained shocked on seeing further decrease in her scorecard and got merely 23 points now.
Yasmeen is a brilliant student and got Grade ‘A’ in her graduation but is now in a state of shock as her dreams of joining University seem shattered. “First this university created problem when they handover us out of syllabus paper where questions from our own subject were only few and now I’m utterly shocked to see this mess.” Rising Kashmir had exclusively reported on 8 June about the students demand for reexamination after they found out of syllabus question papers. Yasmeen is not alone to suffer in this mess. Tawsi Jan with roll number 216595 got 32 points when checked on 18 June but to her utter shock, checking again after few days she is now getting only 30 and is clueless about where two marks have flown. Tawsi is one of the top scorers in her graduation having a dream to enter university. “I smell a foul in all this. Because it is not only decreasing marks but I have heard about few students whose marks even got increased…one studies with me…he had 34 and got increased to 47…” The story does not stop here. Muzamil Mushtaq with Roll number 216938 got 28 initially and now reduced to 24. Ishfaq Ahmad with Roll number 219704 got 34 initially and now 31. Putting things to further suspicion is the fact that the university has not uploaded any answer key on its site unlike other universities did after entrance. “Things would have been clear if university had uploaded answer keys after CUCET but neither have they handed over question papers to us after finishing exam nor upload keys…this must be verified by the authorities,” demands Ishfaq Ahmad, another student who appeared in the CUCET 2015.
When contacted Registrar Central University of Kashmir, Prof Mohd Afzal Zargar, said: “Firstly we don’t conduct this CUCET as the nodal agency is Central University Rajasthan. Few students had brought this complain to me and then I talked to controller examination CU Rajasthan who told me earlier it was some error which they have rectified after re-checking and now these revised marks are final marks.”
CUK Registrar further added for those who still are not convinced with the revised marks, “Those students should file a simple RTI against Rs 10 to get their OMR sheets.”
A university official wishing anonymity said: “I fail to understand why CUK doesn’t conduct its own entrance and evaluation like CU Odisha and CU Bihar pulled out from this messy CUCET…It costs CUK nearly Rs 18 lakhs to conduct this CUCET this way.”

City’s flood-hit families observe fast with ‘hope and despair’

IRFAN RASHID

SRINAGAR:

A new fresh air has engulfed the Valley with arrival of spiritual month of Ramdhan but there is a larger section of people where air failed to permeate through.
The calling from the minaret at the dawn and dusk has no effect on displaced Malik family in Mehjoor Nagar. Fayaz Ahmad Malik, 45, with oblong face and short hair is living on rent in a small 10 feet by 15 feet room. Getting inside the room sometimes is a heavy exercise as all bag and baggage is scattered in the room. Stove, broken cistern, dirty shoes or any other thing may become a hindrance to enter the single occupancy and all in one bed cum drawing cum kitchen room.
Fayaz sets out to work on very first day of Ramadan. A work that he calls ‘more important than anything’. After he lost his newly built double story house, he says I lost my whole lifetime earnings.” In Kashmir, people earn for decades only with a single aim of building a grand house with dream of spacious room for every member.
Haleema, 43, is on fast but still cooks food for her husband who is busy working on re-building his lost house.  Fayaz works along with eleven labours and three masons; he also supervises their work. “These labours think we have received lakhs of rupees from government and tries to be lethargic in their work,” whispers Fayaz.
Malik family has two kids also. Suhail, 12, and Haroon, 10, studies in Islamic Public school, Kanipora. Haleema grudges about lackluster attitude of the government who have left them and many other thousands of families in ‘God’s name’ (khuday seindis nawas peth treayikh aes).
The government has so far given Rs 1.75 lacs to Malik family and so to many other flood victim families. “It took us Rs 1 lac to dismantle the old collapsed house,” complains Fayaz. He has failed all these months to complete building a new house and only lately has taken a debt from close associates to continue house construction.
With the Centre announcing second installment of relief for the flood victims of Kashmir, the families whose houses had been washed away in the September deluge last year continue to struggle to rebuild their homes even in this scorching heat of Ramdhan.
The Union Government after a delay of more than six months “disappointed” the people of Valley by announcing just Rs 1,600 crore relief. A “mere” Rs 551 crore has been announced for housing, which shattered the hopes of the flood-hit. The previous state government had proposed Rs 44,000 crore from central government.
“A single bag of cement costs Rs 390. I have already spent all my savings on building the structure. I have spent nearly Rs 5 lakh till now,” said Fayaz with right hand supporting his chin and thumb scratching his beard.
“What can we do with this little amount? We cannot wait for too long. The government has deceived people by announcing such a small amount on the name of relief. We lost everything in floods,” he said.
According to experts, a single story moderate house takes nearly Rs 10 lakh for construction. The announcement of less than Rs 2 lakh relief amount for the flood victims till now has increased the difficulties of flood victims who are forced to live in rented accommodations from the last over six months.
 “It is not possible to even build the structure of the house with Rs 2 lakh,” said Jamsheed Ahmad, a Valley-based architect. In a move to make construction of houses easy for the victims, the government had announced subsidized building material for the flood-hit. However, the affected people termed it a “false promise”.
 “The officials are now telling us that the former government had created trouble for them by announcing subsidized material. They are making procedures too long for us. We are tired. We have been continuously approaching the concerned offices but to no avail,” said Gulzar Bhat, another flood victim, whose house was completely damaged in the unprecedented floods in Batamaloo.
Gulzar has never broke a single fating day in is life but this year, he says, “I want to complete house for my family before Eid.” This is not the end of worry for the flood-hit families. After floods, non-local laborers left the Valley, subsequently labour charges have become expensive. The cost of construction material has also increased.  “From bricks to sand, everything has become expensive. Even labor charges have gone up. We are in a difficult situation. Every one of us wants to celebrate Eid in our homes, but we are helpless. The government has failed us,” said 16-year-old Mehvish Gulzar.

‘CBMs agents of change, not solution to problem’

RK Chief Editor delivers lecture at CUK

IRFAN RASHID

Srinagar:

Senior journalist and Editor-in-chief, Rising Kashmir, Dr Shujaat Bukhari today said Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) were agents of change and never solution to the problem.”
“CBMs lead break myths and leads to better understanding of situation. But unfortunately no diplomatic follow up has been carried out,” Dr Bukhari.
While delivering a guest lecture on topic tiled as ‘Indo- Pak relations’, at Department of Politics and Governance, Central University of Kashmir, Bukhari said “as state subjects, Kashmiris have much suffered from the past 25 years and there has to be a remedy now.”
“Kashmir is a political question and not religious one even we have fought against co-religious outsiders in 1586 because we want to have distinct identity but we have been failed by our leadership. It is some vested interests who don’t want peace process…may be within the state or outsider,” Dr Shujaat Bukhari said.
Putting to light the role played by former Pakistan President Parvez Musharaf, he said: “He played a commendable role in highlighting Kashmir issue on international level. He was keen to do something different. But certain quarters expressed anguish and referred to them as diversionary tactics.”
Stating that the peace process started in 2003 by Mushraf was a “welcome step” towards larger solution.
 “When Cross LOC bus was started in 2005 followed by Cross LOC Trade in 2008. These measures help to create conducive atmosphere,” he said. “Despite a long process to obtain permission to board Cross LOC bus, you won’t believe 24000 people have travelled,” he said, adding “It has been a success except few times when it was suspended. As no Passport is needed to travel in cross LOC bus and so the sovereignty of two countries doesn’t come in between.” On LOC Trade, he said: “Despite Cross LOC trade being a failure, it touched 300 crore but people come and complain their money is grabbed by other side that they don’t know by face except phone.”
Discussing the role of few political groups, he said: “Some quarters’ saw these CBMs with suspicion and today these leaders are said about their role in these 25 years has been nothing except blood bath. But few quarters did good job by going onboard with Musharaf’s 4 point formula. As there is no overnight solution as it is a process and not event which takes long time.”
Bukhari has been one of the pioneers in Kashmir Initiative group that has got members from both sides of the border. He said that the nucleus of conflict between India and Pakistan is Kashmir. But at least they can solve lesser magnitude issues like Siachin.  “Unfortunately J&K is treated as law and order problem and it is a threatening issue which may open window for other things.”
Talking about the stand of Pakistan towards Kashmir, he said: “After inviting Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief to India, India called off foreign secretary level talks on trivial issue. Pakistan has also toughened its stand vis a vis Kashmir. Even Pakistan Army revealed how Indian intelligence has been supporting militancy in Pakistan.” He said that absence of engagement is going to create more problems and it is very important for India and Pakistan to have political engagement.
Encouraging the political science students, Bukhari said: “You are in an important subject that can shape the destination of nations and decides future of people as I also had this as my subject in graduation.”
Prof Noor Ahmad Baba, Head of the Department, said: “Every problem has a complex facet. There are no easy solution processes.”