Sunday, 27 October 2013

27th October – Kashmir’s “Black Day”

National Flag of Kashmir

On Sunday, October 27th 2013, a demonstration was held in London, outside the Indian Embassy to draw attention to the plight of the ancient nation of Kashmir, the control of whom has been variously fought over since the ham-fisted partition of India during 1947. Undoubtedly, demonstrations of a similar nature will be variously held today, in 2014 too. This column will explore deeper into the Kashmir Question and it is hoped, in due time to hold interviews with eye-witnesses of the atrocities which have occurred during the ensuing decades. Regular readers will know that this column strives to give a voice to under-represented people, but nevertheless retains a neutral stance politically. The Kashmiri situation is in fact, not dissimilar to that of The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus or, indeed that of Palestine, in many ways.

Kashmir has been in a state of self-defensive war since the independence of Pakistan and India; it is one of the world’s oldest disputed territories, only comparable with Palestine. The freedom struggle has resulted in 70,000 deaths by some estimates. 27th October, 1947, is a date firmly etched in the minds of the Kashmiris. It is observed as a Black Day on both the sides of the ‘Line of Control’ to show resentment against the occupation and the resolve to attain independence from India.

It was on this day, that the Indian armed forces invaded and illegally occupied a large part of Jammu and Kashmir. They violated the ‘Partition Plan of the Indian Subcontinent’ and forcibly landed in the princely state. The position of the Kashmiris’ is that India owes them the the right of self-determination, but to date, this goal is far from being achieved.

Kashmir has been a source of friction between India and Pakistan ever since these nations came into being: The apparent Indian greed to keep regional resources in their hand being arguably the main reason. It is one of the world’s oldest unresolved disputes since the creation of the United Nations.

A UN commission called for the withdrawal of Indian and Pakistani armies in August 1948 and brokered a ceasefire in 1949. It was decided to hold a referendum to decide the future of Kashmir. It was further decided that the question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan should be decided through the democratic method of a free, impartial democratic process, the main point being whether the citizens of Jammu Kashmir wish to remain independent, or secede either to India or Pakistan.These UN resolutions have been completely disregarded by India who continues to regard Kashmir as a colony, rather than a disputed sovereign territory.

The Kashmiris’ have never been afforded the right of self-determination. Furthermore, Kashmiri freedom fighters have been abducted, tortured and subsequently murdered by the Indian security forces; the worst human rights abuses have been carried out which allegedly have included severe beatings, electrocution and sexual humiliation against hundreds of detainees.

Kashmiri citizens are dealt with differently from the rest of India’s population under the provisions of the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act, under which they can be jailed for up to two years if individuals are considered likely to commit ‘subversive’ acts. An estimated 20,000 are currently detained according to the independent Human Rights Watch.

According to information published recently, the Kashmiri lawyer Imroz has discovered some 3,844 unmarked mass graves whilst searching for people listed as ‘missing’;  he has still to carry out searches in 16 more districts. Appalling figures have surfaced, putting the murder toll at 6000, out which only 80% have been identified. It will be alleged, according to sources, that prima facie evidence exists which could cite the Indian army as being guilty of crimes against humanity in an ongoing war that has never been properly reported by international media. The UN sent a report via the Human Rights Council, warning India of its obligations under human rights treaties and laws, shortly after the discovery of these graves.

The extending and raising of the Mangla dam is another issue which this column will be covering, for in commission this project which is partly to enable Pakistan to derive Hydro Electric Power from the region, has wiped out whole Kashmiri communities not to mention the final resting place of loved ones. Much more is to follow on this issue in the coming weeks.

Caveat Emptor

The views expressed above are drawn from Kashmiri Nationals sources and my own opinions are neither reflected nor opined throughout. I have not been paid for this or any other article within my extensive archive of written work.

Chris Green

Besparmak Media Services

Saturday, 26 October 2013

"The Under-Minister for Transport" interviewed (A spoof)

                   "The Under- Minister for Transport" interviewed concerning Roads and Footpaths.
'A spoof interview written in 2009 and set in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus'
Chris Green

The funniest road signs (© Barcroft)


Ladies and Gentlemen, we are pleased to welcome the Deputy Assistant Minister for Public Works to our programme tonight.

Minister: Welcome to the programme and thank you for sparing us some of your valuable time.

      M           Not at all.

       I.             So, as Deputy Assistant Minister for Public Works, what do you have to say    about the deplorable state of the footpaths in general in this area?

M.          We in the Roads Ministry, would actually, generally assess our paved footpath inventory as being classified as 'Tactile Paving'.

I.            'Tactile Paving': Hmmm how would you describe, 'Tactile Paving' ?  

M.         In the case of Northern Cyprus ,'Tactile Paving' is so termed, because when you trip over on it, you really do feel it! 

M.          But in answer to your original question, I do agree that there is a great deal to be said about the footpaths, and indeed roads in this area and in the fullness of time after due deliberation, consultation and careful consideration, things will be said, I can assure you!

I.              I see…….. but are you able to give our audience an early indication of what might or indeed could be said?

M.            Early indications or leaks as espoused by the British Labour Party, are not something we at the ministry indulge in… well not usually, anyway!

I.              Really, why is that?

M.            Frankly, we rarely have notice of ‘early indications’ ourselves, but I can share with you the results of sterling work recently carried out by our sub-steering committee for planning!

I.              Please do, we are all ears!

M.            With regard to the footpaths we at the ministry recognize that in the past, developers have used the term `footpath` rather too literally.

I.              What do you mean by that?

M.           Well in as much as the term is written in the singular, so the developers built the footpaths in a like manner.

    I.            Ah, so what you mean is the paths are only wide enough for a single foot?

    M.          Of course, well spotted! But we are also conscious that when we build them wider they are predominantly occupied by parked cars and as we do not have many widened footpaths, cars are forced to use the Ottoparks [car-parks] when the footpaths become full and of course, this is an intolerable situation for the car drivers to be forced to bear!

I.               But surely footpaths were designed to take foot traffic not vehicles?

M.             Well people walk on them……… retrieve their cars…well, they eventually retrieve them...


I.              Goodness me, so have the sub- steering committee come up with any kind of solution or an outline of a solution?

M.           They certainly have! We have our finger on the button here at the ministry you know!

I.              Well, let us come back to your last comment later on, but pray, what is the solution being outlined?

M.           Recognizing that some of the footpaths are too narrow – cars can’t park- and some not wide enough for cars to share with pedestrians, we are moving towards an advanced stage of the consideration process which maybe fast tracked towards the ‘preliminary proposal’ process leading, in the fullness of time, to a conclusion. (looks smug)

I.              Which is, Minister?

M.           We will widen the footpaths!

I.              Really, how wide?

M.           Full lane width. (smiles proudly)

I.              Full lane width! What, both carriageways?

M.           Of course!

I.              But where will the traffic go?

M.           Same as they do now.

I.              Let me guess; on the footpaths?

M.           Tabi: Of course!

I.              And the pedestrians?

M.           On the footpaths as well, and they would be well advised to do so, for reasons of safety!

I.              So what you are saying is that motor vehicles and pedestrians are going to share the same pavement.

M.           Yes; exactly as now but on a wider and greatly improved scale! You see all this is part of a far reaching scheme for a revolutionary ITS or Its!

I.              Meaning?

M.           Integrated Transport System.

I.              So in this case, mingling pedestrians with motor vehicles is interpreted by the Ministry as ` Integrated`?

M.            Yes and let me tell you it took quite some figuring out at the highest levels of the ministry typing pool (chokes) erm Think-Tank!

I.              I cannot help thinking that this proposal will compromise public safety.

M.           Well hang on, it hasn’t reached the dizzy heights of a’ proposal’ yet, but no, on the contrary we believe that statistically and on balance, safety will in fact improve.

I.               How on earth do you work that out?

M.              Under the present system pedestrians transit from one side of the carriageway to the other side by way of by way of concentrated killing zones.

I.               Meaning Pedestrian Crossings?

M.                     Yes; a rather a quaint little colonial term isn’t it! We believe that by integrating pedestrians and cars there will be no need for these tiresome crossing points and we will remove them at an early stage of the construction process!


Furthermore we believe that `ITS Possible` - That was my idea as it was my turn to have one; an idea, that is! (smug, proud smile again)

I.              Inspired I am sure! So are there any other moments of inspiration at the Ministry you might share with us?

M.           Indeed there are!


             In the unlikely event of this part of the world being dragged into the EU, ITS will have to be extended to encompass EU norms and transport is key. We, having a finger on the button, will carry out early experiments beginning in the ITS by forcing cars and scooters to begin driving on the left hand side. If, as we expect, this proves to be successful, lorries and coaches will follow suit after a trial period!

I.              Of how long??

M.           That will of course depend on EU directives, but probably a month or so.

I.              But you haven’t mention Dolmus traffic. Where will they go?

M.           As they do now, we wouldn’t wish to disrupt the smooth running of the Integrated Transport System.

I.              As they do now; you mean on the footpaths?

M.           Of course, Integrated: ITS Possible!

I.              You will have white lines and other helpful road markings?

M.           Whatever for? You don’t have white lines on footpaths and anyway, that would involve another idea and we are not due another of those for a year or so at least!

I.              Ok, so to conclude, can I take you back to a remark you made on at least two occasions concerning having a `finger on the button` at the ministry. Whose is the finger?

M.           We take very seriously the important role of having a finger on the button at all times, Friday afternoons and weekends excepting of course as you no doubt understand.

I.              Of course!

M.           Members of a specially selected team of dedicated button monitors share the role on what might loosely be described as a rota, but in practice is slightly more flexible.

I.              Meaning?

M.           It depends upon who of any of them is in the office, at any given time!

M.              But recognizing our role as an employer in respect of career development, one of the typing pool is being fast track groomed as a button monitor, except on Mondays.

I.                     Why not Mondays?

M.                   She can’t do Mondays; she is never in on Mondays!

I.                       But is the button ever pressed?

M.                    Pressed!! [chokes and becomes animated] The ministry button pressed! Dearie me no, that… goodness me, oh dear the very thought of it! – no no, the ministry button is never pressed! That is unheard of , unprecedented.


Look, the ministry button needs a finger upon it, in order to monitor it, so as to prevent it being pressed which, were it to be so, costly implications might ensue such, for example, as a ‘highly trained’ road working team being scrambled to say, Fix a pot hole, which of course we don’t have here, we have Tactile Paving, so in order to prevent this, it is essential that the button is monitored to prevent the inadvertent pressing of the said button.

I.        Very enlightening; but in the event of a true emergency which might otherwise imply  that the button should be pressed but we now know that can never be, what happens?

M.               Simple; we get the Turkish Protection Forces to do what is required, usually at their expense, and then do what we always do in such instances.

I.              Which is what?

    M.             We blame the Greeks!

I.              Deputy Assistant Minister, thank you very much.

M.            Not at all!

The funniest road signs (© Barcroft)


Christopher J Green

Girne 2009.