The picture that you see above is from a “crackdown” in Kashmir from 90s. What exactly is a crackdown?

Consider this situation, At the crack of dawn, your home is encircled by armed individuals who without any legal justification subject you to an arrest and you are not told under what charges but you get the hint why this is unfolding as it is. You are directed to an open air prison.

Tough luck if you are the only male member in your house, you still must follow the orders of these gunmen. As far as the women and children are concerned they must stay back and be used as human shield just in case.

Your plea to stay with the family while the “search” is on falls on deaf ears. If you insist, there’s every chance you might be spared the open air prison and instead get hauled to an Abu Gharaib kind of place. Tough choice isn’t it.

You sheepishly start the walk and are greeted with choicest abuses, you boil from inside. Your mind wanders back to what must be the scene at your home. You curb your instincts and decide to bear the humiliation.

Finally you reach the ‘prison’ and look around and find every male member of your neighborhood is already there. “Some solace” you say without saying it.

You are not allowed to express any resentment. Even if no charges can be pressed, yet the detention continues.  You spend the day and just before the dusk, you are asked to get up and face up to a vehicle while the armed individual holds you (see the picture). There are scores of vehicles and you are ordered to face up to each one of those in the same way.


You get up and gear yourself to bear another humiliating ritual (see picture) and then you hear what you don’t want to – a loud horn. Fearing the worst you close your eyes only to realise that its not you but the next one the honk was meant for. You say “Thank God, it was someone else” and you don’t care if anyone heard you this time. With not even a second’s delay, the unfortunate soul is blindfolded and hauled into a truck. An Abu Gharaib he cannot escape even if he begged and pleaded. Somehow you escape each one of these and are released.

You are relieved that you can go home fully aware this might continue for many days at a stretch and it did. And you reach home and see every room in your house has been ransacked. You ask yourself since when did insurgents start hiding in rice canisters and since when did armed individuals think they can fit unharmed in suitcases. You know the hunt is not for the individual who picked up a gun and who fights for freedom but it’s your desire to unshackle yourself from the chains of slavery that’s the target.

The next dawn, the story continues. And your desire to be free – invigorated.


Going Home

The car stopped
And, so did my heart.

Drifting towards the known

A stranger

Gripped with fear of the unknown.

The longest walk,

the shortest distance.

Rooted to the spot, transfixed

My hands reached for the door.

Feeble knocks turned louder.

A cacophony of sounds

A welter of emotions.

Converging at the doorstep

Of a place called Home.

There she was,

Dressed in white,

Questioning a tear-drenched face.

Her eyes probing for recognition.

Epiphany struck

And her arms enveloped the stranger.

Reluctantly, clumsily – apprehensively,

Albeit strongly.

‘Welcome Home’ she said.

Her voice reverberated through the stillness.

The brick house, now painted green

Deodar windows, now white.

Three walnut trees


Residents- Unknown.

I sat – broken – on the stairs,

Mind clouded with confusion.

A long wait over,

fantasy wrecked

This was not Home!


Thanks Bhawna for penning these lines which evoke melancholy. A tragedy that has been – Pandits leaving their homes.

From Kashmir Times dated: 29th of May 2010
Open letter to the Chief Justice of India, Chairperson, National Commission for Women and Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission
Subject: Appeal for justice in the case of rape and murder of Aasiya Jan and Neelofer Jan in Shopian, J&K, 29 May 2009

Today is the anniversary of the great tragedy in Shopian where Aasiya Jan, a young girl of 17 years, and Neelofer Jan, a young woman of 22, went missing and were found dead on the banks of Rambi-Ara Nullah on the morning of 30 May, 2009. Early investigations and evidence, and the systematic tampering of it, have implicated the security forces from the area, either of the crime, or at the very least of shielding the criminals, and obstructing the course of justice.
On 17 August, the investigations in the case were handed over to the CBI, which has now called the deaths “natural” and by “drowning”, but the report fails to answer a number of questions:
1. How did Aasiya and Neelofer drown in Rambi-ara Nullah, a stream in which the water was barely ankle deep at most places? No-one has ever been known to drown in the Rambi-ara Nullah. It is important to mention that several witnesses in CBI’s own report have mentioned that Neelofer’s body was completely dry from one side.
2. The CBI fails to answer how a search party consisting of police, family and friends, scouring the area for more than four hours could have ‘missed’ finding Neelofer’s body where it was found the next morning – barely hundred yards away from the bridge in a floodlit high security zone
3. While conducting the third post mortem post exhumation of the bodies, why did the CBI not call upon the two sets of doctors who had conducted the earlier post-mortems, as is common practice?
4. Why did the CBI fail to heed the direction of the High Court to call a post-mortem team from the Medical College, Srinagar and choose instead to call a team from AIIMS, New Delhi consisting of members who have a questionable reputation?
5. How can the CBI claim that the hymen of Aasiya was ‘intact’ after four months of burial in summer months? Not only has the CBI used this so-called ‘fact’ to ‘disprove’ sexual assault on Aasiya, but somehow they have used it to ‘prove’ no sexual assault on Neelofer as well… this despite several eye witness and doctor accounts of bodily injuries on both victims. Further, the presence of diatoms which has been advanced as the main evidence for the theory of drowning does not substantiate death by drowning as the Rambi-Ara Nullah is indeed the source of water supply for Shopian.

As if all these lacunae and lapses were not enough, the CBI has now framed serious charges against all who differed with their ‘findings’. Those charged by the CBI include doctors, public prosecutors, members of the Bar Association, witnesses, and family members of the victims for having acted under the influence of “separatists” and consequently falsifying evidence, or intimidating witnesses. That is all those who pointed to sexual assault and an unnatural death have been charged by the CBI. 13 people in all. It is also disturbing that a perfectly peaceful agitation of the Shopian residents under the banner of Majlis-e-Mashavarat and the Shopian Bar Association which initiated the investigations and cooperated with the police have been clubbed as ‘separatists’ and anti-national.
In direct contrast to the way the CBI has hounded the family of the victims, and the people of Shopian and everyone else who came into the case after the bodies of the two women were recovered, the CBI has requested the High Court to quash all charges against the police personnel who had destroyed/neglected crucial evidence at the site, failed to register FIR on time and committed other lapses as were amply evident in the Jan Commission’s findings. When asked by the High Court to produce fresh evidence in support of dropping the charges they gave lie detector test to the police and gave them a clean chit again.
What is even more distressing is that while this case is still pending, presiding judge, Justice B. Ghosh who was diligently monitoring the case and was responsible for the arrests of the police has been transferred out of the state.
All these ‘findings’ of the CBI are deeply contradicted by fact finding reports by three independent groups and the Justice Jan Commission appointed by the Chief Minister J&K, as well as the J&K High Court, which have all found cause to believe that the two women did not die a natural death and were likely victims of sexual assault and murder.
In the face of such serious lapses by the CBI, we call upon you, as the Chief Justice of India//Chairperson, National Commission for Women//Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission to initiate a fresh and impartial enquiry to ensure that the truth one day be told.
We hereby enclose two fact finding reports for your perusal and an article giving a brief critique of the CBI report and their partiality towards the police. We also request you to examine Justice Jan Commission report and that of the CBI investigation and the transcript of the lie detector tests.
It is well known that the heavy presence of armed forces and the police in Kashmir has led to a large number of sexual assault on women in the past as well. No justice has been secured for the women of Kashmir.
Let this not be one more case!
Looking forward to speedy and just solution of the case,
Aalochan, Pune
Akshara, Mumbai
All India Progressive Women’s Association
Anhad, Delhi
Cadam, Delhi
Delhi Forum, Delhi
Forum Against Oppression Of Women, Mumbai
Gramya Resource Centre For Women
Hazards Centre, Delhi
Jagori, Delhi
Jagori Grameen
Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch. Bhopal
Manav, Delhi
Maraa, a media collective, Bangalore
Namma Manasa, Bengaluru
National Alliance of People’s Movements, Delhi
Nirantar Resource Centre for Gender & Education, Delhi
Partners for Law in Development. Delhi
Pratidhwani, Delhi
PUCL Andhra Pradesh
PUCL Rajasthan
Purogami Mahilla Sahngathan, Delhi
Saheli, Delhi
Sahiyar Vadodara
Sama, Resource Group for Women & Health, Delhi
Samajwadi Jan Parishad, M.P
Samanatha Mahila Vedike,Bengaluru
Sangini, Bhopal
Sangram, Maharashtra
Shramik Adivasi Sanghthan, Betul
Swayam, Kolkata
The Other Media, Delhi
VAMP, Maharashtra
VAMP, Karnataka.
Vimochana Forum for Women’s Rights, Bengaluru
Vividha, Jaipur
Zubaan, Dlhi.

Dr Ajita Rao, Delhi
Akhil Katyal, London
Akshara, Hyderabad
Anomita Goswami, Delhi
Anuradha Bhasin, Jammu
Anusha Hariharan, Delhi
Arati Chokshi, Bengaluru
Arti Sawhny and Kiran Dubey, Ajmer
Aryakrishnan Ramakrishnan, Thiruvananthapuram
Ashley Tellis, Hyderabad
Bindu Menon, Delhi
Chinmay and Saroj Mishra, Indore
Deepak Srinivasan, Bengaluru
Dunu Roy, Delhi
Gautam Bhan, Delhi
Indu Jain, Delhi
Indu Prakash Singh, Delhi
Jaya Vindhyala, Hyderabad
Kavita Srivastava, Rajasthan
Lata Singh, Delhi
Lesley A. Esteves,
Madhu Mehra, Delhi
Mangai, Chennai
Mary E John, Delhi
Mary S.
Maya Krishna Rao, Delhi
Nandini Rao, Delhi
Nandita Gandhi, Mumbai
Navaneetha Mokkil, USA
Neelima P.A., Delhi
Neha Kagal, Pune
Nalini Visvanathan, USA
Nidhi Agarwal, Himachal Pradesh
Nivedita Menon, Delhi
Pamela Philipose, Delhi
Pauline Gomes, Deli
Penkoothu, Kerala
Ponni Arasu, Delhi
Pramada Menon, Gurgaon
Prarthana Mishra, Bhopal
Priya Thangarajah, Bengaluru
Pushpa Achanta , Bengaluru
Rajashri Dasgupta, Kolkata
Ranjana Padhi, Pune
Ratna, Bangalore
Rosemary Dzuvichu, Nagaland
Dr Rukmini Rao, Hyderabad
Sadhna Saxena, Delhi
Sangeeta Chattergee, Mumbai
Savita Sharma, Delhi
Seema Kazi, Delhi
Seema Misra, Delhi
Shabnam Hashmi, Delhi
Shipra Nigam
Shweta Vachani, Delhi
Sophie Murphy, Delhi
Sumit Baudh, Delhi
Sumi Krishna, Bangalore
Suneeta Dhar, Delhi
Tara Negi, Delhi
Dr Uma Chakravarty, Delhi
Urmimala Sarkar, Munsi
Urvashi Butalia, Delhi
Dr Veena R Poonacha, Mumbai
Dr Vineeta Bal, Delhi

A Brief on Rape and Murder in Shopian, Kashmir, International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir (IPTK) http://www.kashmirprocess.org
2. A brief critique of CBI theories and practice

C.B.I (Concocting Bizarre Interpretations) in Shopian
By Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal
JAMMU, April 10: ‘
If you can’t convince someone, you confuse them.’ That was American president Harry S. Truman half a century ago. But right now, this is precisely how the government response to the Shopian rapes and murders (of May 29, 2009) and the campaign for justice that followed can be summed up. From the very beginning the government response, to one of the biggest controversies ever in the history of Kashmir, has not been marked by consistency. The official investigating agencies – right from the Special Investigation Team of the Jammu and Kashmir Police to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have been busier spreading canards of lies, spinning rumours and using media as a tool to leak misinformation, rather than clearing the cobwebs. The CBI report, based on its investigations, is in striking contrast to the Justice Muzaffar Jan Commission report, which despite its limitations and flaws, did indict the police personnel for tampering evidence and deemed it not just dereliction of duty but rather a deliberate calculated move. The CBI, which has cracked its whip on everybody – from the doctors to the lawyers active in the campaign for justice – has been too kind to the police personnel and given them a clean chit.

And to top up everything, chief justice Barin Ghosh, who had taken up a pro-active role in unraveling the truth, has finally been shown the door and sent on a punishment posting for daring to go against the tide – for having ordered the arrest of police personnel last summer, monitoring the investigations by the SIT and now failing to
acknowledge the CBI report as the gospel truth. An impression is being created by the government as if the CBI report is the last word. Barin Ghosh’s unceremonious exit is not the only indicator. Chief minister Omar Abdullah, in his mid-summer madness last June, had done a flip-flop – first talking about ‘drowning theory’ and then admitting that ‘something has happened’ and that the two Shopian victims, Asiya Jan and Neelofar, are like his sisters,
ensuring justice for them. After a winter of discontent, and facing brickbats on human rights front recently on the floor of the state legislative assembly he decided to finally break his silence as he endorsed the CBI report.
The CBI report running into hundreds of pages may on the face of it seem like an impressive document but only a closer scrutiny may reveal that all that glitters is not gold. It doesn’t take a legal expert to question the logics of the conclusions the premier investigating agency of the country has arrived at. Even an elementary school
student with a keen eye can point out glaring flaws.
At best the CBI report is simply a compilation of FIR, statements, variety of post mortem reports (many of them to create as much confusion as the CID and SIT initially did), post exhumation observations and set of conclusions for which no logic, evidence or explanation is offered. There has been no investigation and no need has been felt for the same.
A perusal of the entire report shows how the CBI has conveniently picked out on certain portions and skirted the rest, not even bothering to investigate the loose ends or the doubts that arise from the various statements that have been taken and recorded. Just to quote a few of the inadequacies:
Role of policemen
The five police personnel indicted by Justice Jan Commission, and later arrested on the directions of the state high court, have been let off the hook without even questioning why they collected no evidence from the spot, failed to mishandle the law and order situation or delayed the lodging of an FIR. They have simply got a clean chit with a polygraph test, details of which are submitted in the CBI report, revealing that many questions have not even been
asked, thus putting the effectiveness of the polygraph test in serious doubt.
SSP Javed Mattoo’ statement before the CBI reflects little on the facts of the case, investigations or what he did in his capacity when the incident came to light and Shopian broke out into protests. He simply talks from a victim’s perspective, talking about rumours and making political statements about ‘PDP and separatists’ working in
close co-ordination against him and giving a picture as if the entire anger in Shopian was sparked by this nexus. Mattoo talks about SMSs being floated by media persons on 30th morning which led to problem. How does he arrive at this conclusion. What were the SMSs? Who was sending them? Then he talks about Dr Nighat’s ‘provocative statement’. He was neither witness to it, he was simply told by someone. He doesn’t say who? The investigators don’t think these questions are important enough.
Not only Mattoo’s statement is politically incorrect, it suffers from factual inaccuracies. When the agitation first began in Shopian, the separatists or other political leaders were nowhere in the picture. They only seized the opportunity few days after the anger became uncontrollable. For two days, the anger spilled out in form of
unorganised protests, the first day of which was marked by a bit of violence. It was thereafter that the Shopian Bar Association and the Majlis-e-Mushawarat, both of which comprised of people with different political leanings – Congress, NC, PDP, separatists or totally apolitical. The three month long campaign in Shopian was totally
peaceful and the groups spearheading the agitation in this area cannot be held responsible for violent incidents in distant Srinagar or other parts of the Valley. The CBI conveniently does not draw any distinction between the two parallel agitations – by the local people and the others by separatists, PDP or other fringe groups. But more
importantly, it simply laps up Javed Mattoo’s generalised over-view without any serious cross questioning about why a police officer of that ranking has no facts to narrate instead of making a political comment in his statement.
The police role in the case has been the most dubious of all and one cannot lose sight of the very significant observation made by the State High Court – that either they (police officials) are the accused or they know who has done it (rapes and murders). The observation was obviously made because there were too many flaws and inadequacies in the police story. The CBI, instead of questioning them, has merely endorsed them without even raising an eyebrow.
The most curious is the case of Inspector Gazi Kareem, who was among one of the accused police officials, arrested for over one and a half months. Interestingly, Gazi Kareem was not even on duty when the girls went missing and when the search teams were sent out. As Kareem himself says in his statement to the CBI, “On 30th (May 30, 2009) at around 11.00 p.m. I was informed by Head Munshi Riyaz Ahmed that the investigation of the matter was entrusted to me by the SHO and the relevant entries were recorded in the DD/ Roznamcha. Initially I protested on the ground that I was not aware about the matter and was not part of the investigation but despite my protest, the matter was entrusted to me and I had to follow the instructions of the then SHO.”
Why has this suspicious story of Gazi Kareem not been cross checked by anybody? He was not part of the search party but for forced by the SHO to take up the case. Why did the SHO insist? Doesn’t the CBI think this is significant?

Medical reports
The most important evidence in the hands of the CBI, as per its own claims, seems to be the post exhumation medical evidence. But just how valid and authentic can that be is easily questionable. The CBI quickly demolishes the previous medical reports, stating that there were multiple reports available and concludes that the doctors are the culprits. It is true that several different post mortem reports were doing rounds in the Valley during the first few months of the incident. But is there any evidence to blame the doctors. The CID department itself was found flashing a ‘fake report’ and claiming it was authentic till it was asked for a copy. So why is there no investigation? Obviously those who bungled the medical reports and samples had a motive. If the doctors indeed are the culprits, there should be enough evidence and investigations to subscribe a motive. The doctors, in all probability, did not know the victims. They couldn’t have schemed up everything on behalf of the ‘separatists’, days before the incident even caught the attention of the latter.
Perhaps, it may have been more worthwhile to probe why the Director Health Services and the Director General Police (as revealed by the hordes of statements in CBI’s report) were taking such exceptional interest in the post mortem reports, the forensic samples, ensuring that doctors accompanied the samples to FSL Srinagar and thereafter monitored everything till the reports were made public. Surely, in a state where medical legal cases happen by dozens on a daily basis, this might not be the normal course of action. Perhaps, this has escaped the CBI’s eye.
Quite conveniently, the credibility and image of the doctors, especially Dr Nighat – who has all along maintained that the two women were raped – was first tarnished, through media, and then the bodies were exhumed to make the post exhumation medical observances sound more authentic. Medical and forensic experts have pointed out that three months after bodies are buried, there is no chance of viewing ‘hymen’ or injury marks on the skin, which disintegrate. These bodies were exhumed four months after they were buried but the AIIMS team brought by the CBI miraculously found the hymen and no injuries. This is in striking contrast to Dr Nighat’s observations to Justice Jan Commission of Inquiry and the Independent Women’s Initiative for Justice, of which this author was a member. She has elaborately talked of a broken hymen, signs of sexual assault and injuries on the thighs. What Dr Nighat said to CBI has not been recorded in its report. It has merely been splashed in the media. Therefore, one does not know the authenticity of these versions that have appeared in the media with an obvious aim to tarnish the image of doctors and some Shopian activists rather than proving something scientifically. So there are two very different sets of observations – one within a day of the death of the two girls and the other made four months later. Medically, it may be difficult to find the latter more reliant.

Drowning theory
So how does all this prove that drowning indeed took place? All that the CBI report has been able to prove is that the flow of water in Rambiara nallah, where the two bodies were found, was faster on that particular day. There is no evidence of a depth fit enough for drowning. How come two women drowned there, just after 7.00 p.m. when it is still not dark at a time when an incident of drowning can easily be noticeable. After all, they must have struggled, shouted, screamed enough to be heard in a well inhabited and a fully militarised area, if that indeed was the case. The nallah itself is ankle deep at the spots were the two bodies were found. It may be knee deep at some places. If it was a natural case of drowning, the bodies should have been fully wet when they were found. The eye-witnesses have pointed out very clearly in their statements to the CBI that “only the right side of Neelofar’s body was wet.” Why has the CBI ignored such basic circumstantial evidence, which becomes more important in cases where concrete evidence cannot be produced.

Interpretations, not investigations
These are just some of the many samples that make the entire CBI exercise and its conclusions totally unrealistic and unpalatable. Obviously, they have not even bothered to go through their own statements or conveniently ignored them, hoping that nobody would notice. It has simply taken the easy road of nailing those who dared
to raise their voice and swam against the stream. The response clearly matches the stand of the governments, both in the state and at the centre, who have cleverly connived to bid adieu to Justice Barin Ghosh, the only person who had inspired hope and faith of the Kashmiris in the Indian system of justice.
The reasons are a bit obvious and a bit mired in mystery. There is a definite cover-up to shield the men in uniform and in pursuance of that a bid to go to any extent, even negating the apolitical and peaceful nature of the campaign, trampling people’s faith, whatever little of it was left, in Indian democracy and its system of justice.

But then why a political flip flop?
All three investigations – by Justice Muzaffar Jan Commission and CBI, which were in striking contrast with each other and the SIT, which did nothing, had the blessings of the government. Then why different lines? A part of the answer probably lies in the probability that no one in the official circles had pre-empted a well organised, peaceful, campaign, well within a legal framework. They were unnerved. It wasn’t easy to cover up without logics. It had to be done by falsifying whatever circumstantial evidence was available or through a perpetual of Goebbels truth. So, was Omar being bailed out temporarily for his initial ‘drowning faux pas’, which may as well have been an intended one, with the Jan Commission report? The CBI came into picture later, when it became a bit easier for the government to handle the scene and begin reversing the story. The Jan Commission report was demolished bit by bit – using mostly media and then a bit of paper work. But sorry, no investigations, no cross checking; no evidences either. Is that how the premier investigating agency of the country works? Whatever be the reasons for this rigidity in shielding the guilty in Shopian case, truth and justice have become the ultimate casualty, the repercussions of which will not simply be felt by the family members of Asiya and Neelofar, or entire Shopian. They could be dangerously long term, impacting a greater political-social landscape of the region.

I read this piece in the Times of India today. Sanjay Kak while commenting on the Shopian tragedy and the demonstrations that followed says:

This summer’s protest is not just about the rape and murder of two women, the violation of human rights, or even the repeal of some draconian law. The shadow play must not distract us from the real issue, which is the extraordinary and intolerable militarization of Kashmir.

Read the complete piece here

It’s been too long that I posted.

When Sajjad Lone decided to try his luck and his party’s support base and jumped into the fray for Lok Sabha elections – for a very brief moment – I felt Kashmiris may finally be getting more pragmatic than they have ever been.

Then came the comments from Farooq Abdullah about the possibility of a Double Omar (sic) accord and his offer to Hurriyat to join NC and Hurriyat countering that offer – and Farooq Sb saying he will think after elections are over (We all know it’s a charade) it seemed like things are taking a turn – for the better or worse – no idea but definitely things might be changing.

Abbas Ansari’s statements then brightened up hopes even more that may be in the changed world order, Kashmiris know how to re-orient their struggle.

And then comes the bang in the shape of you all know – need I say – a flight lands from Delhi and a special passengers goes back to basics (of 90s), an elderly leader of masses thunders and there you have – protests in Rajouri Kadal, stone pelting in Nowhatta and ding dong battles in Maisuma. A Sumo is torched (I can bet it was owned by a Kashmiri), CRPF gets a dose of its own and is beaten by its own lathis. And then what would happen next ? Nothing much will change, the same scene will continue to be played everytime. Why? This is downtown for you. And I am proud to say I am part of this.

But right now, I am miles and miles and miles away from those narrow alleys of Kadi Kadal and Kamangar Pora but I know the sentiment in Shahar-e-Khaas has always been different than it would be in the so-called posh areas of the city. Even the rural folks think vary differently than the urbane populace. Is it the sentiment attached to the “tehreek” the reason for the boycott or is it the indifference that my friends from Saraf Kadal won’t vote? I hate to say it but I would be really surprised to know that the reason was totally one-sided.

Another form of economic blockade (regardless of what Mr. Jaitley and his party men may like us to believe) against Kashmiris but gone are the days when Kashmiris used to remain silent. JKPA – an association of Jammu based pharma traders recently indulged in threatening leading pharma companies of India of dire consequences if they trade directly with Kashmiris. After certain elements (mainly from a right wing political formation) in Jammu & Punjab resorted to holding the entire Kashmir valley to ransom by choking the supply line and thus putting countless patients at life-threatening risk, its the turn of JKPA . Not being able to stomach the fact that Kashmiris have the werewithal to handle this blackmail, JKPA indulges in what they have can do best (or worst). Yet another example of trying to impose a regional hegemony, but thanks to the spirit of Kashmiris they are again going to lose.

But we still have saner voices in Jammu expressing their concern at this criminal activity. This editorial has been taken from widely circulated English daily of Jammu dated 18th Sep 2008, Due to lack of archival links I had to paste it as it appeared else you may not find it tomorrow.

A culpable criminal offence
JKPA’s threat to pharmaceutical firms 
No words can be too strong to condemn the highly irresponsible and most objectionable act of the Jammu-based Jammu and Kashmir Pharma Association’s threat to the country’s pharmaceutical companies of no cooperation in case of their supplying drugs and medicines to the dealers and chemists directly to Kashmir. In a letter, written on August 23 and then repeated on September 3 last, to the companies manufacturing and supplying medicines and medical products the JKPA, an organisation of a handful of stockists and dealers of medicines who enjoy hefty commission as middlemen, has threatened them of boycott in case they supplied their products directly to the Valley instead of routing these through them. What makes the threat even more reprehensible is the tone and tenor of the letter dubbing the traders of medicines and drugs and their organisations in Kashmir as “anti-national”. Clearly the JKPA’s threat is not only a cognizable offence as it clearly violates the Monopoly and Restricted Trade Practices Act (MRTP) but it is also an inhuman act as its purpose is to starve the needy people of the adequate and timely supply of medicines including life saving drugs. The prolonged economic blockade, declared or forced, by the Jammu agitation and in which the trade and commerce bodies regrettably became partners, had resulted in acute shortage of these medicines in the Valley adding to the sufferings of the common people, particularly the patients needing medicines urgently. The JKPA’s latest diktats and threats of non-cooperation to the pharmaceutical firms only compound their culpable offence. The JKPA has acted not only in the most objectionable but also anti-national manner by dubbing the common people of Kashmir or the medical traders as “anti-national”. If the dealers of medicines and chemists have been forced to boycott the supplies from Jammu and have opted to seek supply directly from the manufacturers and suppliers in the country then the JKPA should blame itself for this kind of situation.
On the very face of it the threats hurled by the JKPA for non-cooperation in case of companies supplying direct medicines in Kashmir amounts to a blackmailing tactic. Mercifully and belatedly the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries has disassociated with the JKPA’s irresponsible move though it cannot be fully absolved of the responsibility for such a situation due to their earlier support to the disruption of supplies. They appear to be wiser after the Kashmir traders bodies decision to boycott supplies of goods through Jammu. The JCCI chief has also taken exception to the tone and tenor of the letter of the JKPA to the pharmaceutical companies. But that is not enough. To prove its bonafides the JCCI should take stringent action against the JKPA for its misdemeanour. The silence of the State authorities in this regard too is inexplicable. They should have taken due cognizance of the unfair and objectionable trade practice being resorted to by the JKPA. It is their obligation to ensure unhindered flow of drugs and medicines, as also other essential commodities ” in all parts of the State. The State Government should take up this issue with the central drug controlling agency and the pharmaceutical companies to ensure that they are not cowed down by any threats by disrupting supplies of medicines and drugs to the needy people in any part of the State. 
The situation created by the action of the JKPA again brings to focus the consumers demand for eliminating middlemen and agencies to reduce the costs of essential commodities, particularly drugs and medicines and ensure their uninterrupted supplies. The present system of monopolised and restricted trade practices must be replaced by a system of fair and direct supply to the consumers. One hopes that the present stand-off between the traders of Kashmir and Jammu comes to an end and the shattered mutual trust is restored without any delay. The walls of mistrust and suspicion unfortunately created due to the ill-conceived Jammu agitation needs to be demolished and age-old mutual cooperation in all spheres of life restored for the overall interests of the people and for preserving the State’s unity and integrity. It needs to be understood by all that the regions of the State are so inter-linked and inter-dependent that their going apart or drifting in opposite directions cannot be in the overall interests of the people. The bridges of trust and understanding need to be rebuilt through a process of dialogue in a spirit of understanding and accommodation.

Courtesy: Kashmir Times

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