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Kashmir is a treasure trove of handicraft, heritage and natural beauty.Among the elegant treasure Kashmir possesses is Kashmiri Copperware (locally known as kandkari Work).copper ware known as Traam has been an indispensable commodity in Kashmir since ages. The age old art of crafting copperware is deep rooted in Kashmir culture. The art of Copperware in Kashmir is famous all over the world, the craftsmanship of beautiful Kashmir is known for their work of engraving and for making household and decorative products ,the household utensils include   Lota (pot), Tream (plate), Naer (water jug), Tash- Near (portable handwash), dishes, bowls,trays ,vessels,Lamp Shades and many more…. most famous being Kashmiri ‘Samovar’--a large cattle for preparing tea. 

History backs it, that the Sufi Saint and an Islamic scholar  ,Mir Syed Ali Hamdani ,who travelled from Central Asia was instrumental in making copper popular among natives.He brought craftsmen from central Asia (especially from Persia and Iran ) to train locals.however during the reign of Budshah Zain ul Abideen ,this craft received good support and Zain ul Abideen became the active catalyst and pioneer to restore the grandeur of Kashmir. 

Process Of Making Of Copper.

Copper ware requires ample amount of time and labour and making process is slow and difficult.

The process of making of a copper or brassware goes through many Hands  (artisans) which  are specialized in a particular technique. The process involves Khar(Local name ) – the smith, Naqash – the engraver, Zarcod – the gilder, Roshangar – the polisher and Charakgar – the cleaner or finisher. In past there were  special  localities or Mohallas like Roshangar-Mohalla were  named after these professions,(however now the tale is totally different) , where these artisans were carrying  out their craft practice.

Some of the  tools used in the process of making a copperware are ,  Draz(Local name) – hammer, Mekh -stakes, Yandrewah – anvil, Compass ,chisels, punches, files etc. 

The beautiful shops of household utility and decorative copperware items in Shehr-e-Khaas ,downtown area of srinagar city has been the hub of copper ware since the 19th century, the old markets of Zaina Kadal, SR Gunj ,MR Gunj ... still carrying this glorious art. Large beautiful copper samovars, cups, glasses, tasht naari’s, traami’s, jugs, bowls, trays, vases ,vessels ,water bottles ,table Lamps ,pendant Lamps etc are  gracefully found  in the beautiful shops even today.The old city is full of shops where craftsman (Naqash) are often seen engraving copper items. 

Crafting Magic With Humble Hands - Untold story Of Mohamad Aslam. 

On a narrow street in ShamasWari area of  Zainakadal, old city (Shahrikhass) near Khanqai -moula is a small coppersmiths workshop .Mohammad Aslam 45, bearing  beautiful beared on his face is sitting in his match sized workshop ,with a smile on his face, Aslam greets whoever enters his workshop .Aslam who lives permanently in Soura area of Srinagar city travels everyday to find solace and joy in his work ,which he is performing from his childhood .Aslam is often found beating copper meticulously .with his head bent and eyes spent on it as he shaped it stroke by stroke .the sound he hears while beating the copper is not less than music for him.

As  Downtown area of summer capital, Srinagar has produced some of the finest and talented artisans in copper ware and Mohammad Aslam is one of the unsung hero ,a master craftsman who is keeping this art alive.

Hailing from Soura  Srinagar, Aslam , said that he adopted the copper art from his ancestors and is in this profession from last 32 years.he added “My father ,Ghulam Mohammad and grand father Ghulam Nabi were working as coppersmiths and my grand father had taught and trained me to make new patterns and designs .with the dint of hardwork Aslam has been able to provide a good education to his children who showed reluctance in joining his (father's) work, his Son is an Engineering graduate from a reputed institute. 

However Aslam has a sad story to tell ,taking a sigh of relief after a candid conversation, Aslam says ,Once an inseparable part of the culture, use of copper made cauldrons and utensils is seeing a steep dip... and added, that the craft will die because it finds no further takers in the current generation.

People prefer to buy machine made copper utensil which are relatively cheap, ultimately affecting the popularity of this Kashmiri art.

machine made copper utensils had left thousands of technical hand artists jobless and the art is at the verge of the extinction. Aslam has not received any help or grant from government or any other organisation. However this year a Delhi based organisation Commitment to Kashmir has come forward to help the beautiful art  and true heroes like Aslam to carry forward this legacy ….he lives with a hope ,a hope to revive this dying art ……. 

Conclusion.

Government till date has offered handful of schemes to help the artisans and promote Kashmir handicrafts, but the role of the government to revive the industry in the state and outside the state has not been up to the mark ,furthermore the society in general and the civil society members, Organisations in particular has to wake up from deep slumber to contribute in whatever way, to preserve this identity.

The artists associated with the art form have faced huge discouragement .. Unable to make a healthy living with the income that the art generates, artisans associated with this craft cry over the government’s apathy to the socio-economic conditions of the artisan community.if necessary steps are not taken this craft will soon die a silent death and kashmir will lose our identity. 

Dar Javed is a Research project Fellow at Design Incubation Centre Central University of Kashmir.

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JAMMU: The Govt. of J&K has taken a strong stand to its legal counsel before the Supreme Court that J&K Govt. would not like the Supreme Court to hear and decide the sensitive matter relating to the J&K Resettlement Act. This Act was passed by the Legislature of J&K in 1982 when Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah was the Chief Minister of J&K. The Resettlement Act related to the Kashmiri migrants who migrated from J&K to Pakistan from 1947 to 1954. This Act was passed unanimously in December 1981 while only one legislator, Bhim Singh (that is this author) was a Congress legislator who opposed this Bill mainly on the ground that the Bill provides for the return of those Kashmiries (Muslim brethren from J&K) who had migrated to Pakistan after partition between 1947 and 1954.

This author at that time was a Congress legislator and opposed the Bill for including the descendants of the migrants as well as the widows of a migrant from Pakistan to J&K (India). The Congress party suspended MLA Bhim Singh from the party. Bhim Singh resigned from the Assembly as well as from the Congress party protesting against the Congress policies towards the contents of the Bill. He argued that he had no objection if the migrants from J&K to Pakistan would return to J&K (India) as they were State Subjects/Permanent Residents of J&K according to the Law on State Subject recorded by the then Maharaja Hari Singh of J&K in 1927. He strongly opposed the Bill (now Resettlement Act) against the second part of the Bill which provided that the widows/wives and descendants of such migrants to Pakistan shall also be entitled to come to J&K. This author/now senior advocate representing the Panthers Party petition before the Supreme Court has taken a clear stand that the descendants or the widows of the migrants could not be permitted under this Law made by the legislature of J&K to obtain entry permits/permission to settle in J&K against the property of their ancestors.

J&K National Panthers Party is the only contender today against the draconian Law made by the legislature of J&K. Prof.Bhim Singh started this legal battle in December, 1981. Shri K.Venugopal, Sr. Advocate (presently Attorney-General of India) led the arguments for the Panthers Party whereas Shri Ram Jethmalani, Sr. Advocate appeared for the Govt. of J&K. Three-judge bench headed by Justice Chenappa Reddy after hearing the matter for days stayed the operation of the Act. In the meantime, the then Governor of J&K, Shri B.K. Nehru refused to sign the Bill and returned it to the State Assembly to reconsider. In his refusal letter he addressed the State Govt. that,

“I have come to the conclusion that the Act, as it now stands, suffers from many defects and deficiencies--constitutional and other. The former attract the responsibilities laid upon me by my Oath of Office which requires me to “Preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the Law” and make obligatory a reference back to the Legislature for reconsideration under the proviso to Section 78 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. The letter make such a reference desirable. This I now accordingly do.”

The Bill assumed the shape of law even when the Governor had not consented the proposed Bill. This was in accordance with the Rules provided in the J&K Constitution. This must be known by the country men that Constitution of India is not applicable to the State of J&K even the fundamental rights enjoyed by the Indian citizens are not available to the citizens of India residing in J&K. The Fundamental Rights were under the thumb of J&K Govt. as the President of India in May 1954 had introduced an amendment adding ‘A’ to Article 35 of the Indian Constitution which is closing Article in the Chapter-III of the Indian Constitution. 35-A was introduced by the President of India through Ordinance which continues in operation till this day.

The Governor Shri B.K. Nehru’s letter was considered by the Govt. of India which referred the matter to the then President of India, Giani Jail Singh for appropriate action. The President of India referred this matter to the Supreme Court of India for its opinion if the J&K Legislative Assembly was competent to legislate in the matter which related to the law on the citizenship rights. The matter remained pending in the Rashtrapati Bhawan in 1984 to 2001 when the Panthers Party raised this issue on the streets seeking information on the fate of the Resettlement Act.

It was in 2001, may be November/December that the Supreme Court of India constituted a 5-judge bench to consider the reference made by the Govt. of India vis-à-vis J&K Resettlement Act. The 5-judge bench refused to pass any order except dismissing the reference in three words,  ‘Returned, respectfully, unanswered'. The then Chief Minister of J&K, Dr. Farooq Abdullah convened an emergency meeting of his cabinet in December 2001 and announced that he shall start the process for providing desired entry permits to the migrants from Pakistan to J&K.

At this stage Prof.Bhim Singh met several national leaders for their support and advice on the issue. It was only Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee the then President of newly formed Bharatiya Janata Party who filed an intervention petition before the Supreme Court. It was J&K National Panthers Party which had filed the petition through its General Secretary, Shri Harsh Dev Singh, the then General Secretary of JKNPP.

Prof.Bhim Singh with the guidance of Shri K.Venugopal. The Supreme Court issued the stay order which continues till date. The matter remained pending with the Supreme Court of India even after that. It was only last year that matter appeared before the Supreme Court of India for hearing.

The Supreme Court of India has been approached by the Govt.of J&K in Governor Rule seeking favour to adjourn the matter till elections to the Legislative Assembly are held. This has been strongly opposed by J&K National Panthers Party arguing that the matter has been pending before the Supreme Court of India since 1981. 38 years have gone since, Bhim Singh said, he has been fighting from the floors of the Legislative Assembly of J&K to the Supreme Court of India seeking dismissal of the so-called Resettlement Act framed by J&K legislature as the Law interferes directly with the rights of the citizenship of the Indian citizens. Citizenship is a subject which is dealt only by the Parliament of India. State legislature has no competence to interfere with any legislation relating to the citizenship of any Indian.

Prof.Bhim Singh has also expressed surprise on the silence of the Govt. of India to keep quiet at this juncture when J&K is under the President’s Rule. The state of J&K cannot be allowed to cross the limits or bypass the President of India in such serious matters which relate to the rights of citizenship of the Permanent Residents of J&K.

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The  Dogri Regional News Unit of  Radio Station, Jammu  has come of age and celebrated  this week  its 47th Foundation Day.  The Dogri News section was set up on December 6, 1971 during the troubled time of Indo-Pak war. This RNU has gained immense popularity among the people, not only in the sensitive Jammu and Kashmir State but even across the borders in Pak occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Pakistan.  It is one of 47 RNUs of All India Radio network in various regional languages across   the country. 

It may be mentioned that   presently  three news bulletins in  Dogri and two in Gojri are  put out  at optimal timings in the morning, afternoon and evening every day with maximum listenership. The staff celebrated today the Foundation Day of RNU  and   highlighted  the proud modernization and success  story of Dogri and Gojri news bulletins from  News Room  of  J&K State’s first Radio Station at Jammu and  recalled  its importance and public service as well as contribution.

To start with in  1971, the news bulletins, twice-a-day in Dogri language, was aimed to inform and educate the general masses about the true facts and clear the environment of rumours, infuse confidence and also counter poisonous propaganda from across our borders. The first bulletin in Dogri went on air on December 9, 1971 while the Gojri bulletin was introduced in 1980 and steadily growing in popularity among largest segment of our population with the passing time.

An eminent writer, Thakur Poonchi was the founding editor of Dogri News Unit, who worked  single-handedly and put in his best efforts.It may be recalled that noted editors of Regional News Unit of Radio Station, Jammu include among others: D R  Kiran, Kashmiri , Ajit  Singh, A K Handoo, Mohd. Yussuf Ganai, M.K. Wangoo, Balwant Singh,  Vijay Saqi,  Sanjit Khajuria, Neha Jalali and R. K Raina .  The News-caster conne with RNU, Jammu to name only few are : Lajya Manhas, Narendra Bhasin, Joginderpal Chhatarpal, , Dr. Veena Gupta, Vijay Sharma, Chanchal Narendra Bhasin, Bhanu, Sudershan Prashar, Parveen Kesar, Kuldeep Singh Jandriya, Nirmal Vinod, Jagmohan Sharma, Vijay Bajaj and others. Over the years, these bulletins created wide-spread awareness and are always appreciated by general public. The basic objective of these news-casts has been to give out all factual picture and win  public trust. Then the work in the Dogri news section was manual with very limited   staff members and few infrastructural facilities like computers and digital equipment. Now modern equipments are used for speed on spot reporting.

But it is noteworthy that the Dogri bulletins are listened with due attention and also discussed and   debated. It is worthwhile to mention that the news broadcasts by the RNU of Radio Station, Jammu has gained popularity and credibility   among the common masses. The modernization of reporting has taken place with introduction of professionals and adoption of modern technology and equipments. There are on-the-spot reporting, interviews, sound-bites in the news bulletins, and instant reporting of events and functions.  The case in point is the recent Panchayat elections reporting by the Radio Station, Jammu’s News Room (RNU).  

It was Maharaja Hari Singh who inaugurated  on December 1, 1947 the  Radio Station, Jammu to  enlist active public  participation in development process and also to effectively counter the Pakistan’s  virulent anti-India propaganda .It (RKJ) then operated from three classrooms of the Government Ranbir High School, Jammu with address at 6.30 pm by the then Maharaja Hari Singh.

A well-known Urdu writer Rajinder Singh Bedi was its officer–in charge from January 3, 1948.  This Radio Station has played a crucial role in the dissemination of news and views as also promotion and preservation of Dogri and other local languages as also our distinct cultural heritage.

In the recent years, there has been a great leap forward in the RNU with modernization and up-gradation of news gathering, editing in the News Room, high speed, transmission, with latest presentation and broadcasting techniques for effective impact. It is a fact that radio broadcasting is very effective and efficient medium of communication. It is noteworthy that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rightly choosen the Radio medium for his choicest Mann Ke Baat programme which is nearing now 50th broadcast with  widespread telling impact all over.

RNU of Radio Station, Jammu is playing a   pivotal role in the presentation of objective, true, accurate  and authentic news and views to the general public as a part of Prasar Bharati, a national public broadcasting service and upholding the standards of journalism.  It is expected that the Regional Dogri News Unit of Jammu will grow steadily in status and  strength winning the full confidence of the people in Jammu and Kashmir as also across the entire country.

(Starlines Syndicate Service)