‘TRUTH HAS BEEN A CASUALTY IN KASHMIR’

Dr Abdul Ahad, ZGM’s Books Released; GK Foundation Hosts Seminar

UMER MAQBOOL/IMRAN MUZAFFAR

Srinagar, Dec 7: Maintaining that Kashmiris have always found novel ways of expression despite curbs on freedom of expression throughout their history, intellectuals and writers of Kashmir Friday said that truth has always been a casualty in Kashmir. They were speaking at the seminar-cum- book release function organized by Greater Kashmir Foundation here.
On the occasion, two books– ‘Kashmir: Triumphs and Tragedies’ authored by Dr Abdul Ahad and ‘Kashmir Story: Hope and Despair’ by GK Columnist Z G Muhammad – were released by eminent personality of the Valley, Munshi Ghulam Hassan.
Speaking at the seminar titled “Freedom of expression with special reference to social media,”
J&K’s Chief Information Commissioner GR Sufi said that freedom of expression is linked with right to information. “While there are reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech, there are similar restrictions under section (8) of JK RTI Act on getting information,” Sufi said. The CIC asked the Kashmir civil society to utilize the transparency law for the benefit of society.
“Don’t let this law fall into the hands of vested interests. You can stop these elements by seeking information on wider range of subjects,” he said.
The CIC said the restrictions on freedom of speech and expression have been upheld by High Courts and Apex Court citing that they fall in reasonable category.
Noted pediatrician and civil society activist Dr Altaf Hussain said alternate and new channels of mass communication are always blocked in Kashmir when it comes to telling the truth.
“Kashmir is the only place where media is gagged and curtailments on internet have lately been witnessed here. He said newspapers in Kashmir valley are not totally free. Sometimes we have to depend upon Jammu newspapers that comparatively enjoy more freedom than newspapers published from Srinagar.
Simply put, we are being gagged in this part of the world every now and then,” he said.
Dr Altaf said before 1947 some visionary Kashmiris tried to portray the reality and pitch a voice of resentment against the establishment. “Hamidullah Shahabadi’s book on the rule of Gulab Singh is an historical account,” he said.
“It has been three years now since the ban on SMS in Kashmir was imposed. Lately we saw internet being blocked. Such curtailments go against International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, GK columnist Ajaz-ul- Haque said: “One set of freedom is healthy and the other hideous. One encourages accommodation and a pleasant sense of understanding of each other not necessarily based on mutual agreement. And the other turns us ugly sadists who can live without food but not without seeing others in pain.”
“One means responsibility and the other indulgence. One ends where someone's nose begins, and the other begins where someone's nose ends. One stems from moral courage and the other from moral corruption. Which freedom we profess? Obviously the first, but which freedom we practice, unfortunately the second.”
Civil society activist and columnist Arjumand Hussain Talib said Kashmiris who exercised the right to freedom of speech and expression are quite often subjected to economic and social subjugation.
“When States fail to contain people from exercising their right to expression, other intolerable means are used,” he said.
Talib said the West is allowing free flow of information on social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter for its ends for certain period of time.
“They (West) are allowing flow of information for certain political and strategic objectives. Once objectives are achieved by them, they will do some other thing.”
Chairperson Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies, Prof. Hameeda Nayeem, said although some curtailments are genuine to some extent, restrictions in case of Kashmir are different and complex. “Truth has constantly been distorted in Kashmir,” she said. “We have writers in Kashmir who have become collaborators. And there are some half-baked who are causing damage to the genuine cause of Kashmiris,” Hameeda added.
Commenting on Z G Muhammad’s book ‘Kashmir Story: Hope and Despair’ she said the narrative of the book is woven about the events that unfolded in 2010—a summer that witnessed 127 deaths. “In Greece, for example, people showed dissent against the establishment by resorting to stone pelting. And if same happens in Kashmir, it is termed as mob violence,” she said.
Prof Noor Ahmad Baba said freedom and responsibility are interrelated.
“In contemporary global dynamics, freedom of expression is the cornerstone of democracy. Liberalism has offered a free flow of information but there are some myths about it,” he said.
Prof Baba said that no government can call itself democratic until it ensures freedom of expression to people.
Expressing gratitude to Greater Kashmir Foundation for organizing the seminar and book release function, Munshi Ghulam Hassan said, “GK has come a long way in organizing such functions and many eminent writers and journalists have had their experiences gained from the publication.”
Munshi, however said, “Political history of Kashmir has always been distorted by people who are not friends with us.”
While Muhammad Maroof Shah presented book review of Dr Ahad’s book, ZGM’s collection of articles was reviewed by columnist Dr Javid Iqbal.
“I have dedicated my book to late Qaiser Mirza. Like a very few people he has been a carrier of our discourse to outside world. He was our window to the external world,” he said.
“In nineties when shutters were downed on Kashmir and international journalists were banned from entering Kashmir, it were just a few Kashmiri reporters and photojournalists like Qaiser Mirza and Mushtaq Ali who told our story to the world. I see the reporters and photojournalists as great heroes. Dedicating my book to Qaiser is in fact paying respect to all journalists who faced a great challenge during nineties.”

Lastupdate on : Fri, 7 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 7 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 8 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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