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Need for a comprehensive campaign

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Jammu and Kashmir police on Tuesday arrested two inter-state drug peddlers from Nagrota and Banihal areas of the region and seized from their possession over 1400 kilograms of poppy straw. The police said that the accused, a resident of Ludhiana, Punjab, has been arrested and booked in case FIR number 300/2018 under section 8/15 of the NDPS Act registered at police station Nagrota. This year, the police have arrested 667 people in 542 cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act for drug peddling and smuggling. Official statistics point out that drug seizures have increased in the recent past. A couple of consignments had even come from across the border. So far, 137 kg of heroin, including 66.5 kg smuggled from PAK in a cross-LoC truck, 175 kg of charas, 760.5 kg of cannabis (bhang), 164.5 kg of ganja, besides opium and cocaine in small qualities were seized by the police from across the state. Other seizures include 2, 61,539 psychotropic substances and around 8,150 kg of opium derivatives. As many as 1,213 people were arrested on charges of being involved in 888 cases of drug smuggling and drug abuse, the police said. That gives a very alarming picture of our society. Former DGP, S P Vaid, just before his removal, had said that drug menace was a bigger challenge than ‘terrorism’. This simply gives one the idea of frightening situation in the state. Ironically, apart from cannabis, heroin and pharmaceutical drugs, it is petrol, which is the darling of drug addicts mainly in the Jammu region and the doctors at Jammu’s Government Psychiatry Hospital term it as an alarming new trend in drug addiction. They warned that petrol addiction is very dangerous as it hits the brain directly and the person indulging in it gets seizures (fits). Proxymon, thinner fluid, which comes with Typewriter whitener, boot polish and Corex are also increasingly being used by drug addicts in Jammu. Typewriter thinner fluid has hydrocarbons in it and the drug users pour it on the handkerchiefs and inhale it. The doctors also say that poppy husk or Bhukki is the most common substance abuse among low strata in the society in the region. Some studies have reported that tobacco, cannabis, alcohol, benzodiazepines, opiates such as codeine, heroin and morphine, brown sugar, inhalants, glue, paint thinner, petrol and shoe polish are the major drugs of abuse in the state. The Valley’s psychiatrists who treat hundreds of patients on daily basis said the nearly three-decade turmoil has also taken a huge role in pushing many youth to drugs. Many youth who have seen the worst unfolding around them or became victims themselves turned to drugs as a means to escape the pain. The most agonizing part is that there is no substantial effort either from the society or the state to curb this menace. It needs a collective effort of all the stakeholder including the civil society, lawyers’ fraternity and judiciary because at times the accused are released on small technical failures. They must realise it is a fight against a mafia that is out to destroy the society. The J&K police is running drug de-addiction centres in Srinagar and Jammu. Also smaller ones are run in Anantnag and Baramulla in the Valley and Kathua and Udhampur in Jammu region. Though there is need for more such rehabilitation centres but at the same time police need to intensify its efforts to curb it by acting hard against drug peddlers. A massive awareness campaign is also needed in which Imams, mosque preachers and Mohallah heads can play a great role. We cannot afford any easygoingness in this regard.


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Editorial

Plight of Indian Muslims

The Kashmir Monitor

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Islam is the second largest religion in India, with 14.2% of the country’s population or roughly 172 million people identifying as adherents of Islam. Over the centuries, Muslims have played a notable role in economics, politics and culture of India, however 70 years after independence the overall condition of Indian Muslims is pathetic.

Poverty illiteracy and ghettoization has marred Muslims for decades now. Ghettoisation among Indian Muslims began in the mid-1970s when first communal riots occurred. It got heightened after the 1989 Bhagalpur violence in Bihar and became a trend after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992. Soon several major cities developed ghettos, or segregated areas, where the Muslim population moved in. This trend however, did not help for the anticipated security the anonymity of ghetto was thought to have provided.

During the 2002 Gujarat riots, several such ghettos became easy targets for the rioting mobs, as they enabled the profiling of residential colonies. This kind of ghettoisation can be seen in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and many cities of Gujarat where a clear socio-cultural demarcation exists between Hindu-dominated and Muslim-dominated neighbourhoods.

 

In places like Gujarat, riots and alienation of Muslims have led to large scale ghettoisation of the community. For example, the Juhapura area of Ahmadabad has swelled from 250,000 to 650,000 residents since 2002 riots. Muslims in Gujarat have no option but to head to a ghetto, irrespective of their economic and professional status.

Increase in ghetto living has also shown a strengthening of stereotyping due to lack of cross-cultural interaction, and reduction in economic and educational opportunities at large. Secularism in India is being seen by some as a favour to the Muslims, and not an imperative for democracy

The Sachar Committee Report explored and commented upon a truly wide range of random issues and concerns, often with a view to forcefully place the Muslim viewpoint on those issues in the public sphere. This included making observations on the high birth rate in the Muslim community in comparison to Hindus: the committee estimated that the Muslim proportion will stabilize at between 17% and 21% of the Indian population by 2100.As per the 2011 census, the population of Muslims is nearly 15% and rose by over 2% over a period of only ten years.

The Sachar Committee highlighted and presented its suggestions on how to remove impediments those preventing Indian Muslims from fully participating in the economic, political, and social mainstream of Indian life. The report was the first of its kind to reveal the “backwardness” (a term used in Indian academic and legal discourse for historically dispossessed or economically vulnerable communities, not meant to be pejorative) of Indian Muslims. An issue highlighted was that while Muslims constitute 14% of the Indian population, they only comprise 2.5% of the Indian bureaucracy. The Sachar Committee concluded that the conditions facing Indian Muslims was below that of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Report brought the issue of Muslim Indian inequality to national attention, sparking a discussion that is still ongoing. The Committee recommended setting up an Equal Opportunity Commission to provide a legal mechanism to address discrimination complaints, including in matters such as housing. In response to the Committee’s findings, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram proposed an increase to the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation’s (NMDFC) budget, citing new duties and expanded outreach that the institution would take on to implement the Committee’s recommendations.

However, no such recommendations have been implemented and Muslims continue to suffer in India even seven decades after independence.

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Editorial

Our bond with divine grace

The Kashmir Monitor

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As Sufi teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee explains, the Sufi comes into this world to love and serve the divine and this destiny is stamped within the heart in fire.
Eros makes his home in men’s hearts, but not in every heart, for where there is hardness he departs.

— Plato

Look in your own heart,” says the mystic, “For the kingdom of God is within you.” He who truly knows himself knows God, for the heart is a mirror in which divine is reflected. Just as a steel mirror, if coated with rust, loses its power of reflection, so do our inward senses which are the eyes of the heart. When this visual heart becomes numb to the celestial impulses owing to the dross of material impressions it no longer remains a clarified beacon. Our quest for the numinous becomes barren and we experience tremors of the dark night of the soul.

 

The heart has long been the starting point for many spiritual schools, but for a mystic, the heart is a fixed referent for true enlightenment. The heart announces the first sign of life and its silence signals the message of the death of the physical body. The mystic regards God as the real agent in every act, and therefore takes no credit for his good works nor desires to be recompensed for them.

The heart is normally veiled or stained by sins, tarnished by sensual impressions, pulled to and fro between reason and passion: a battlefield on which the armies of God and the devil contend for victory. Through one gate, the heart receives immediate knowledge of God, through another it lets in the illusions of sense.

No previous society has offered seekers so many different ways to chase after Nirvana, so many different paths to spiritual epiphany. One powerful way is by polishing the heart. When we polish the mirror of the heart with daily spiritual practices — we can see beyond the illusion of our transient world and perceive the vast and luminous landscape of our true nature. This is one practice that in time can help us make the marriage between our being and our humanness. By its very nature, living in the world leaves a material impression on our heart, while our thoroughness of being and our impulses of love unveil it. The clear heart is the best guide to living. It is the mirror of our inner state, as also a hologram of all. As Sufi teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee explains, the Sufi comes into this world to love and serve the divine and this destiny is stamped within the heart in fire: “We bring this purpose into the world, and when our heart is awakened we feel this need of the heart, this call of the soul.” This divine remembrance awakens the slumbering soul to its real purpose and the journey home begins.

The mystics have discovered that, in addition to the mind, the heart is a very most important centre governing our spiritual consciousness. With diligent practice, teachers have perfected the techniques that moderate the heart, cultivating profound intuition and realisation. The polished heart becomes a mirror that catches the light of truth and reflects it in one’s consciousness. The surest way of achieving this sparkling quality is by focusing attentively on God and negating the ego. From then on the seeker starts to experience God, and see him with the inner eyes of the heart.

In the words of Hildegard von Bingen: “It is the heart that sees the primordial eternity of every creature.”

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Editorial

Rising tension in Kashmir

The Kashmir Monitor

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AS the Supreme Court is likely to hear the petitions against the continuation of Article 35-A of Indian constitution on Thursday, a wave of unrest is sweeping the trouble-torn state. Ahead of the hearing, On Wednesday, Kashmir is reeling under a protest strike called by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL). The rotest strike shall continue on Thursday as well. Apprehensions that the top court might dilute Article 35-A is a matter of concern for all shades of political opinion—separatist as well as pro India. While National Conference and PDP has already warned of serious consequences if 35-A was abolished, the latest to voice his concern is Sajjad Gani Lone. The Peoples’ Conference chairman, who has close political affinity with the BJP, said on Tuesday that the alienation in Kashmir was due erosion in special status Jammu and Kashmir had under the constitution of India. The separatists are already up in arms. That has made the continuation of Article 35-A and 370 of Indian constitution as a joint case for the political leaders in Kashmir.

Article 35A of the Constitution gives special rights to Jammu and Kashmir’s permanent residents. It disallows people from outside the state from buying or owning immovable property there, settle permanently, or avail themselves of state-sponsored scholarship schemes. It also forbids the J&K government from hiring people who are non-permanent residents. While separatist have asked people for a decisive struggle, pro India groups like National Conference and PDP too have joined the chorus. Former chief minister Mahbooba Mufti has cautioned New Delhi that any move to do away the special status of the state would have dangerous consequences.

National Conference patriarch and former chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah too have expressed similar views. On Wednesday normal life was paralyzed under shutdown called by separatists. The shutdown would continue on Thursday as well. Jammu and Kashmir government, which is presently headed by the Governor N N Vohra in absence of an elected government, has submitted to the Supreme Court to defer the hearing till an elected government was put in place. The state counsel, Shoab Alam, in a written plea to the Supreme Court, has said that “The present matter involves a sensitive issue regarding a challenge to Article 35A of the Constitution of India… It will therefore be requested that the matter may kindly be head when an elected government is in place”. Voices of opposition against revocation of 35-A have come from Jammu too.

 

Sometime back around 300 lawyers of different courts in the region, last year, supported the continuation of the 35-A as it safeguarded the rights of the people of the state. The people in power at the centre should understand the emotions of the people of Jammu and Kashmir with regard to the state’s individual character. “Azadi” or “right of self-determination” may not be the slogan of every state subject of Jammu and Kashmir but the special status that the state enjoys under Article 370 and 35-A of Indian constitution is closer to heart to every resident of Jammu and Kashmir. Saner voices at national level, who have some knowledge of politics and power in Kashmir, too have warned of the threats involved in tampering with Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. Some newspapers have editorially commented that India would have no legal claim on Kashmir if Article 370 is removed. It would be in India’s national interest that the central government listens to saner voices. BJP which is ruling at the centre should think beyond the arithmetic of election gains. The party may get some votes in the name of 35-A but it is ultimately India that would lose.

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