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Islamic art exhibition: A peek into the lost world of our calligraphic art

Hirra Azmat

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By Hirra Azmat

Srinagar, Jun 10: The stair case bedecked with flowers and posters leads to “Sheerin Qalam”, an Islamic art exhibition organized by Jammu and Kashmir Cultural Academy, where Qur’an scripted in various calligraphic styles and inscribed in different eras is on display.

As one walks through the history of last few centuries, the 100 rare manuscripts covered with transparent sheets reveal many startling details.

 

While some of them are dexterously hand-written on the parchment paper, many of them have intricate patterns inscribed on the supple deer skin.

Several manuscripts having stylistic appearance are engraved on the smooth Samarkand silk paper. The indigenous calligraphic scripts prove to be an example of Kashmiri calligraphy in its truest sense.

Mohammad Ashraf Kak, In-charge J&K Culture of Academy and Arts, said, the initiative is aimed at introducing visitors to the large number of objects, which are not in general display and to focus on the dying art of calligraphy.

“This exhibition explains the emergence and proliferation of various styles of calligraphy and scripts from different eras.  The exhibition is unique in the sense that not many people know how culturally rich we have been,” Kak said.

While showing around an array of displays, Kak halts near a Qur’anic manuscript from a Mughal era. With a voice soaked with emotions, he describes it as a classic example of “Kashmiriyat”.

“A limited number of colors are usually used in Qur’anic texts but this particular copy has many vibrant colors used in the border. You will be surprised to know the interesting patterns are done by Hindus and text written by Muslims,” said Kak.

The next Qur’anic text corresponding to 1594 AD on the same table leaves every visitor gasping. With its intricate calligraphy and visually pleasing golden colours, the admiration becomes the only choice.

“Holy Quran written with ink blending gold with saffron. This is the only manuscript in the world calligraphed in saffron ink,” reads the description beneath it.

The exhibition also has an eye-catching collection of calligraphic paintings. They equally cast charm as the rare manuscripts. The Islamic calligraphy of Surah Al-Ikhlas, Surah Al-Fatiha and Ayat-Al-Kursi reflect a contemporary touch by converting it into a painting.

“These are done by our contemporary artists. In the uniquely developed contemporary style of calligraphy paintings, the script dons a new look altogether,” Kak said.

Mohammad Saleem Beigh, convener at INTACH, while lauding the initiative also has a sorry tale to tell: “We want to promote our age old art and culture through such events. However, not many people are able to connect with exhibitions of this kind. This is evident from the less number of young people that I see here,” he said.

Beigh believes that the reason the younger generation are not able to develop a connection with these art forms is a mainly because of the flawed educational policy.

“It has to be a part of the school curriculum. Unless they don’t teach you there is something called ‘manuscript’, ‘painting’ and ‘calligraphy’ the youth can never relate to it,” said Beigh

Echoing similar views, Kak said, “The posterity should come to know that there is a value attached to a document dating 100 or 200 years back. If they fail to build these narratives in schools,  then we shouldn’t be upset when they are unappreciative of such art forms,” he said.

 


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Inquiry ordered: Rhetoric of decades

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Mar 20: As a magisterial inquiry has been ordered into the custodial killing of Awantipora youth, many families whose members have been killed by government forces find such exercises futile.
29-year-old Rizwan Assad Pandith, a school teacher from Awantipora was killed in police custody on Tuesday, following which the District Magistrate Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary ordered an inquiry.
Mohammad Iqbal Bhat, a local from Kupwara never received justice after his son was killed in 2017.
His son Asif, a driver by profession, was killed by government forces in December 2017, which triggered massive protests and clashes in the district.
The family claims that Asif was killed by army while he was on his way to pick up a passenger from the nearby highway in Kupwara.
The then Deputy Commissioner Kupwara Khalid Jehangir had ordered a magisterial probe into the killing and sought the report within three weeks.
More than a year later, the report is yet to reach the family.
“I was once produced before the judge in a local court in March last year where I gave my statement. The police ensured me that action will be taken against army, which has not happened so far,” said Bhat, who works as a forest guard.
He added the family wasn’t informed about the findings of the probe yet.
“When nothing happened in last one year, I left visiting the police station. They often told me that the file was in some other department. I don’t know whether some action was taken against the army or not,” Bhat said.
The family of Javed Ahmad Bhat, a Shopian resident who was killed by government forces in January 2018, too has stopped following the case, in which a probe was ordered by the then Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Aijaz Asad.
“We deliberately didn’t follow the case as we had the experience of their investigation when my younger cousin Aqib Ahmad Bhat was killed by the same army camp in 2008. My uncle had to visit Srinagar every week and still no justice was delivered to us,” Waseem Ahmad Bhat brother of slain Javed told The Kashmir Monitor.
Javed was shot dead along with two other youth in Ganowpora, Shopian by Army after locals resisted army’s move to remove the banners of the slain Hizbul Mujahideen militants.
Waseem said the families of two other youth killed in the incident too have given up hopes of justice.
“It was useless to wait for the government report which was expected to come within 20 days. Neither anyone approached us nor did we seek any investigation,” he said.
Similarly, in case of Handwara killing of 2016, when two youth and a 57-year woman were killed by army is under trial at a local court in Handwara.
“A Special Investigation Team of Police was also constituted to probe the case. The case is currently under trail in Sub District Court Handwara and no action has been taken against the guilty yet,” the family of slain youth Nayeem Qadir said.

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JK isn’t NC’s personal estate: Mehbooba

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Jammu, Mar 20: In a blistering attack at former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for dubbing emergence of new parties in Kashmir as a New Delhi ploy to divide Kashmiri mandate, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday (March 20) said, J&K is not a personal property of the National Conference.
Mehbooba’s attack followed Peoples Conference chief Sajjad Gani Lone’s diatribe against Omar Abdullah that he needed ‘mental treatment” for opposing emergence of new parties.
“It is unfortunate that National conference considers Jammu and Kashmir as its own estate. When (former Chief Minister) Mufti Mohmmad Sayeed brought Congress in Jammu and Kashmir, they called them worms of dirty drain (as a Delhi’s party),” Mehbooba told reporters here.
“When the PDP was formed, they alleged the same thing. Today when Shah Faseal formed a new outfit, Omar Abdullah says the same thing,” said Mehbooba.
The PDP chief said Omar Abdullah feels any party formed in J&K will claim right on their estate of Jammu and Kashmir.
“It is a democratic country and everyone has the right to form one’s own party and do politics. Jammu and Kashmir is not a personal property of the NC,” she added.
Omar’s remarks came on the day Shah Faesal, a bureaucrat-turned-politician who was reportedly slated to join the NC, launched his own party – ‘Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement’.
Omar had reacted to the development dubbing it as a New Delhi ploy to divide the kashmiri mandate.
“Why is it that these political parties are launched only in Kashmir, why not in Jammu or Ladakh? Doesn’t it clearly indicate a ploy aimed at dividing us further?” Omar had asked, addressing his party workers’ convention in Anantnag Monday.
“It is a fact that conspiracies have been hatched for long to weaken our special status. While in Jammu and Ladakh, the (political) field is being left open for the Congress and the BJP, here (in Kashmir) there is always an attempt to divide the mandate,” Omar had said, indirectly blaming New Delhi behind the move.
Lone too had attacked Omar Abdullah Monday.
“Were we to give power to Omar Abdullah after Maharaja Hari Singh? He got Kashmiris killed in 2010. Before that his father got people killed and maimed from 1996 to 2002. Before that his father rigged the elections in 1987,” Lone had told reporters in Handwara.
Peoples Conference chief asked Omar Abdullah if there should be no other party except the NC.
“Do they have a copyright? Let me tell you Omar Abdullah is not a kid. He is throwing others’ lives in danger. New people have come on the political horizon. They are moving with few PSOs. Omar and his father and other family members are guarded by 600 to 700 security guards,” he said.
Lone said had Shah Faesal joined National Conference, then he would have been a “good man” for Omar.
“Now he has launched his own party, so he becomes a New Delhi

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Snow, rains in Kashmir

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Srinagar, Mar 20: Incessant rains lashed the plains while upper reaches received fresh snowfall in Kashmir valley on Wednesday.
Non-stop overnight rains in the valley have inundated roads at several places, including the Regal Chowk in commercial hub of Lal Chowk in Srinagar city. A government official said that that de-watering is going on at many places.
On Tuesday, a MeT Department spokesman had warned that there could be widespread light to moderate rain, snow or thundershowers over the Jammu and Kashmir during the next 24 hours which could result in drop in the temperature.
He said that there could be light to moderate rain or snow or thundershowers and the maximum temperature will drop further and settled at 9 degree, six notches below normal in the summer capital during the next 24 hours.
However, the minimum temperature will be near normal, he had said.
The incessant rains triggered fresh landslides on Srinagar-Jammu highway, the only surface link of the valley with the rest of the India. An official said the traffic movement was suspended due to the landslides.

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