When I returned from Kashmir in 1993, I was thirsty for any information I could find on the region. Local news rarely mentioned India let alone Kashmir, and national media only made mention if it had political or financial ramifications. The tragedy and turmoil surrounding Kashmir and her people was unknown as far as I could tell... so tell is what I decided to do.

Whenever opprotunity knocked, I made sure that I told everyone I could about what was happening in Kashmir. Starting in 1997, I built my first website where I devoted a section to inform people about what was going on in the Kashmir region. The internet turned out to be an amazing source for info and a great vehicle to deliver with.

As I continue to find news on Kashmir, I will post what I can here. One Caveat, I am not a reporter so please go easy on me. If you have any news to report, please feel free to contact me here.
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updated 7/3/2011

Nice to see discussions happening again...

This one is news worthy if you are a foodie...

July 2011

7/03--Talks move forward, then back...and the youth make a statement

So as recently as a few weeks ago, there appeared to be a thawing of the glacial process of talks between India and Pakistan on the subject of Kashmir. The two countries hadn't had any formidable discussions since the Mumbai attacks in 2008. Both countries sent their top level foreign secretaries to meet in Islamabad saying they hoped for not just the status quo discussions. The two day talks yielded nothing of substance except the fact that they talked, which seems to be at least a step. Yasin Malik. chairman of the JKLF, stated approval for the talks occurrence but reiterated the need for the Kasmiri's to be present and represented in any resolution talks.

In other news, the Mercy Corp sponsored 'One Young Kashmir' youth summit released their report. The first ever youth summit in the valley was attended by more than 750 youths to discuss Kashmiri culture, rights and economics. By all accounts, this summit was an overwhelming success. The full report in PDF can be found here. A good article on the event can be found in Greater Kashmir newspaper. Don't know how long the article will be up, so read it while you can.

February 2011

2/8--Latest news in the region circles around more violence, protests and some environmental setbacks

Firstly, a women's group held demonstrations against the killing of two teenage girls in Sopore (about 40km NE of Srinagar) by suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba militants. A few days later on the 4th, Sopore observed a complete shutdown in response to a call by Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. All shops, offices and banks were closed.

On Tuesday, three militants were killed by security forces near Banihal (100km south of Srinagar). It's believed that two of the men belonged to Hizbul Mujahadeen and the third was from Lashkar-e-Taiba.

So, how does the environment fit in to this latest round of news? Well, to start, an official survey released showed that since the devastating 7.6 earthquake that rocked the region in 2005, only 18% of the school infrastructure has been rebuilt. Also, an increase in pollution and over use of various pesticides in the valley is threatening the aquatic plant known as 'Juwar' or 'Euryale Ferox' putting it on the brink of extinction. You can read more here...

Lastly, massive snows in the region brought on numerous avalanche warnings which unfortunately came to fruition today supposedly claiming the lives of three who were out gathering firewood in the forests of Khimran. Rescue operations are currently underway.

November 2010

11/11--President Obama and the many interpretations of a statement

In a joint news conference with Indian PM Singh during his visit to India, President Obama when asked about the the Kashmir conflict between India and Pakistan said, "The U.S. cannot impose solutions to these problems. I have indicated to Prime Minister that we are happy to play any role the parties think is appropriate in reducing tensions". He also stated that it is "a long standing dispute between India and Pakistan". Responses to this statement were varied. One senior Indian official said, "They are trying to intervene in the Kashmir issue in a tricky way. It is a very tricky type of statement. If the US was sincerely interested in containing tensions between India and Pakistan, they would have warned Pakistan, stopped arms supply and advised them to settle the issue through negotiations." Now in a statement by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, moderate leader of the Kashmiri group Hurriyat Conference, he stated "Obama has said India and Pakistan should resolve the Kashmir issue, he has not ruled out a U.S. role categorically. Obama's willingness to help in resolution of Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan is a welcome step. We have been all along saying that third party assistance is needed as bilateral agreements between India and Pakistan have failed." On the Pakistani side, president Zardari said that they would like to find an amicable resolution to all the problems between Pakistan and India including the Kashmir dispute.

November also brings autumnal change to Kashmir's famous Chinnar trees. A welcome sight as fall hopes of tourists returning to the region help to heal a summer of violence that claimed more than 100 lives. Great photos of those trees are here and here.

11/4--Moghul gardens get a face lift while the violence mellows

In what has seemed like a long dry spell for good news in the valley, the state administration has finally launched a restoration project on the region's gardens, some of which date back to the moghul era. Maintaining the gardens over the past 4 months has been a challenge, according to G.S. Naqash, director of floriculture, but now that the violence and curfews have abated, Naqash said they could now "put our workers in action so that we should be able to preserve our heritage". The number of gardeners has been doubled.

In other news, curfews have finally been lifted in the valley with only a few areas still under mild restrictions. In a sign of goodwill, Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani said there would be no shutdowns and planned protests during the Diwali festival celebrated by non-Muslims. In a quote, "In deference to the wishes of our non-Muslim brothers, it has been decided that there would be no protest shutdown Nov 5 so that they are able to celebrate the Diwali festival".

September 2010

9/23--Curfews relaxed a bit

According to some reports, curfews in the valley that have been in place since the 12th were relaxed, allowing people in areas of Srinagar, Ganderbal and Pulwama to be out after dark. No violence was reported.

There was a successful rescue by the army of five people who were trapped by a flash flood on the Tawi river.

9/22--Curfews continue for 12th day

Today marked the 12th day of curfews in the valley where the protests and violence of the past 3 months have seen at least 105 civilian deaths and an estimated 2000+ injuries. The protests started up following the death of a 17 year old boy by police on June 11th during a march against human rights vioaltions. Since this event, there has been a series of escalations between security and military forces and Kashmiri's ranging from general strikes to marches and violent breakdowns. To me, this appears to be not just a temporary short lived protest, but has emerged as a reenergized impassioned outcry of years of violence, injustice and an ignoring of the Kashmiri people...just my opinion.

May 2010

5/24--A call for talks and some new violence

This week has seen a bit of a mixed bag of news in Kashmir. For starters, the Indian PM Manmohan Singh said his govt. is ready for some new dialogue regarding Kashmir if separists in the region take up a cease fire.

"I would like to appeal to all the groups outside the political mainstream that our government is ready for dialogue if they shed violence..."

This desire to restart talks has been met with both optimism and understandable pessimism. Pakistan PM Yousaf Raza Gilani said his government remains committed to the peaceful settlement of the Kashmir issue. Kashmiri seperatists on the other hand are more cool to the latest development. Mirwaiz Umer Farooq chairman of the Hurriyat group said...

"It is nothing more than mere rhetoric. It is aimed to hoodwink the international community..."

Stay tuned for more on this...

In other news, fresh skirmishes have erupted along the line of control (LOC) with at least one injury on the Indian side and one death on the Pakistani side with each side claiming the other instigated. Also, a trade unionist Ghulam Nabi Khan was shot dead by unidentfied gunman in Sopore, north of Srinagar.

April 2010

4/12--Strike in Kashmir extended to 17th

For the past 9 days, state employees in Kashmir numbering nearly 500,000 have been on strike. The employees are demanding unpaid back pay and a raising of the retirement age from 58 to 60. Sunday, various clashes erupted between marchers and authorities resulting in hundreds of arrests. As of now, the govt. has said they would listen to demands if the employees were to return to work. Word is that the striking employees will cut power to the region for 1 hour on the 17th in a continued show of their strength.

March 2010

3/29--Srinagar-Leh road reopens

The 475km long highway that connects Srinagar, Kashmir to Leh, Ladakh reopened after being shut down for the winter. The lifeline for the north shuts down every winter due to snowfall, but normally reopens at the end of April. The nearly one month early reopening is a welcome event.