Kashmir: Trouble within trouble

Kashmir indeed has a peculiar geography in the world. On one hand its all the four seasons possess a peculiar attractions in them and on the other hand all the seasons individually too have unique dimensions of varied aspects. As for the winter season of Kashmir is concerned it stands traditionally classified into three specific periods, locally called as Chillai Kallan, Chillai Khourud and Chille Bacha. Normally we consider one chilla as forty days wherein one person, community or all people are supposed to perform a special task. However 40 days is not an obligatory number for the chilla, even smaller period than this can be fixed for performing the task. The absolute winter season has been classified into Kalaan, Khorud and Bacha with 40,20 and 10 days respectively as per the duration and the intensity of the seasonal effect is concerned. In this pattern the chilla dynasty remains virulent in the valley from 21st Dec to 28th Feb. This period is sensitive and prone to snow fall with all its secondary consequences at any time.

Locally our elders say” Hawhas chhu pewan teungul kalaan nerith, Zaminas khourud nerith te Aabus Bache nerith” meaning that warmth comes in air after kalaan, in earth after khourud and in water after bacha. It is indeed ironical that people nowadays have turned crazy towards winter that they have lost the patience and resistance that once used to be the basic tool to fight the adversaries of winter season but now when snow falls even in its own period people consider it weird Whileas in our childhood as I remember people used to express utmost joy and enjoyed snowfalls but perhaps now with the passage of time the “traditions and values” have changed!

Our childhood too has seen enormous winters full o f snow falls but never would then anybody call it a disaster. Barring the tragedy of Waltengonaar, that occurred some years back, any normal winter cant be labeled with a disastrous snowfall. Can 3 feet snowfall in Srinagar and five feet in Tangmarg be called a disaster? In olden times there have been heavy snow falls and even for years together there have been even least snow falls. This is basically a routine thing. Though there is least scope for disagreeing that things like global warming, deforestation and pollution do not lay there impact on the seasons but these effects do not occur overnight or for that matter on such a large scale instead such changes take thousands of years to occur. It becomes a joke when the climate forecasting experts predict a heavy snow fall but the other day we enjoy a sunny day.

Scientific experiments and research have resulted in the utmost developments in almost every field of daily life where climate is no exception but when they predict a change to occur after 12 or more hours till the exact timing many things take place and the prediction might be getting affected. And when you are passing the periods of Chillas in Kashmir it is foolish to expect sunny days as a routine matter.

Today’s man has become science worshiper and his psyche has changed accordingly. Winter in Kashmir has its merits and demerits as well. Whileas we live on this part of planet then we must develop the resistance to withstand the troubles of “Zamistaan” (the extreme winter). Indeed winter season is an advice and a hint for us wherein lie the lessons of self reliance and indigenousness for us. It paves a way for us to learn to live, though in trouble, but on our own foot. But unfortunately now many people treat the winter as an unwanted thing and thus flee from here to outside Kashmir and while fleeing they sometimes are caught in the way which at times turns deadly.

Darbaarmoove! Is it morally justified???

On the otherhand the rulers themselves flee to Jammu in the name and style of Shahi Darbaar. Darbaarmoove is basically a tradition set by the Maharajas to enrich their tastes and enjoyments. Jammu needs Darbarees (rulers) in the name of tradition otherwise Ladakh too is a province of the sate. Anyway if Darbaarmoove is afterall a constraint, then why not to change it meaning to establish, in winter, the Darbaar in Srinagar and in summer at Jammu. If rulers are sincerely sympathetic towards people then there should not be any hurdle in accepting this challenge. Otherwise there is no choice remained to say that these rulers enjoy themselves at the cost of public inconveniences. At a time when there are snow avalanches, road blockades, scarcity of food and medicine in the valley the people need the rulers to address to the issues. This is the real time of help and support otherwise launching the press releases of sympathy from Garm Pathri (Jammu) does not amount to any rescue, instead it adds salt to the already bruised bodies of the publics. And in this perspective where people are made to suffer and the rulers flee to comfortable climatic areas-Darbaarmoove! Is it morally justified?

The deadly Highway: it has been the bitter truth that the single road connectivity between Srinagar and Jammu is Srinagar-Jammu Highway but it gets closed as soon as heavy rains start to fall not to speak of the snow falling when it remains closed for many many days together and at times to travel on this road proves fatal when due to accidents, avalanches or due to severe cold even life gets consumed. It is the blockade of this road that causes the scarcity of necessary commodities in the valley. Though the newspapers of the valley inform in advance about such consequences but the rulers always due to the reasons best known to them have not addressed the issue completely and the ‘stone remains very much in the bowl’ despite the tall claims of rulers for redressal of public grievances.

The basic question: in this whole scenario the real question is that why we have grown dependent on the foreign commodities and when we know the crudeness and cruciality of the winter and for that matter the Highway is bound to get blocked oftenly then what should be the permanent remedy. However, Kashmir being geographically a peculiar place on earth. When there is snow, there is an avalanche and in winter not only the roadway but even the aerial traffic too gets disturbed. After all wherein lies the remedy for this trouble that is bound to occur at least for 70 days annually. What is the remedy? Stocking goods sufficiently (that never was done practically), exploring alternate ways of communication and transportation viz roads etc or an indigenous permanent settlement that lies only and only in self reliance. We must learn to live on our own foot, afterall we too have air in space, water in resources (that is not only self sufficient but………..), fertile lands, we have an agricultural university, Horticulture dept.Even we posses burning gas in our untapped treasures. Isn’t it a fact that Kashmir university in year 2010 came with the findings that Kashmir has a potential to produce not less than 25000 megawatts of electricity. We have the natural medicinal resources upto the extent of valuable treasures! We have skilled people, civil service icons, and we have laborers and Zamindars too but despite this entire one fails to understand that afterall why do we lack everything? Basically possessing nothing despite having everything is the issue upon which we must ponder upon. Baring some things/commodities that bear international status, where give-take or import-export is unavoidable, for all other things we must struggle and explore for independent livelihood provided we will strive for then we can withstand any kind of calamity with ease. But all this can’t be done individually; instead, it needs collective rising. Policy makers, planners and activists have to come out of the deep slumber of ignorance and motivated laziness. In this regard the role of agricultural university and other related departments is obligatory. Though it is a bitter fact that these institutions and varsities despite possessing the best human brains have neither bought green revolution nor have turned Kashmir self reliant in other productions.

We have “burning gas”, beneath Sonawari earth , there are some established gas –wells at Hajan and I have observed one at Hajin, Kh. Muhammad Sultan, a retired ZEO at Mir- Mohalla Hajan , when he called her daughter and she on our request disjointed the pipe coming out of the well and reaching their kitchen . She lit a match stick near the outlet of the pipe and it burnt into a flame, up to four minutes we watched it, we (I and my friends) asked some questions to the duo, they revealed that they had purchased this house 10 years back and the then owner of the house had dug the well 8 years back, i,e; the age of the well was 18 years now, the duo revealed that they use to warm water and make tea in their leisure, because it takes comparatively more time to warm anything as this gas has low pressure .I developed keen interest in knowing much more about this ‘burning gas’. Two years back 4 persons had died there in a well following the drowning of a kid (goat) , all the four persons did not die of drowning but due to the poisonous gas present in the well that did not allow them to swim to surface/safety. These people had jumped into the well one after another in rescue to the earlier jumper. This author was on an invitational trip at our friend Hamid Hajni’s domicile, the neighbors present there informed us that on that very day they had just filled back the well, they had dug for water purposes infront of the mosque, as it had caught fire . We asked the villagers that whether they had approached any authorities regarding this mysterious gas, they replied that some team had visited the area but later on nothing outstanding was done to explore any avenues in doing any survey cum research .

We later approached state’s Geology and Mining Dept. and met there some geologists also, but they could not satisfy us , some of the insiders of the department told that they had referred the case to ONGCI (Oil and Natural Gas Commission of India) and were waiting for reply , whileas some geologists told us that the said gas is the methane gas and is existing only in the upper crust of earth , in short, the dept. could not satisfy us, instead, gave vague and shilly-shallying replies.

Even if this gas is methane-gas, what then, still it is a burning gas or it could be a mixture of various gases. Poison too has its own value and can be exploited for the betterment of mankind, if this gas has low pressure, couldn’t it be mechanically dealt in order to increase its pressure as required? In Mir Mohalla, Hajnis (household) have been using this gas for last seventeen years that too from the same well and the geologists say that it is present only in earth’s upper crust! Now eighteen years have passed but the report is yet to come from ONGCI! Is anybody listening?

( Feedback at ahmadkashmiri@gmail.com)