Category Archives: Activities

Reversing a High Court Order at whims – easy for CEO PDA, SHO Pahalgam

Last year, the Honorable High Court gave a clear order to reinstate the tenant’s rights in the case of old RK Studio/RK Enterprises fire incident from 2006 in the Main Bazaar, Pahalgam. The CEO and the SHO followed the court directions and gave over the possession to Sh. Ravinder Kumar, an old-time businessman who has lived in Pahalgam for the last 60 years.
A new year, a new story. With new officers at the helm in 2019, and under what seems like undue influence, the local Pahalgam administration is bent on violating the order and is pressurizing Mr. Ravinder at the behest the building owner Shamima Shera and her brother Bilal Ahmed Shera who also happen to be total outsiders. The duo has the CEO PDA, and SHO Pahalgam exert undue pressure to reverse implement the judgment.
After a suspicious fire had torn down the building in 2006, the owner had requested permission for the reconstruction of the gutted building. One of the conditions laid out was that the grant of the permission would have no impact on the landlord-tenant relationship. However, the shop was not handed over to the tenant, and the tenant approached the Honorable High Court for justice. After the landlord indulged in stalling tactics for four years, last year the court came down heavily on all the concerned authorities and as a result, in the presence of a number of authorities, the shop was handed over to Sh. Ravinder Kumar. It included the CEO, the Tehsildar, the SHO.
In the last couple of days, the situation started changing back again. The landlord has forcibly occupied a portion of the shop and has laid claim to a significant portion of the shop, all with open support from the same authorities that only months back had helped implement the high court order.

RK Studio – Gutted in Fire in 2006

New officers in authority have changed their stand over a short period of time with no logic, no further court directive, but what can be nothing but undue influence in favor of one of the party. It is a travesty of hard-earned justice. Do the land’s courts have no other business but to hear the same cases again and again, and issue the same orders again and again, just because new officers simply choose to do it differently?
There is a lot going on in Pahalgam; the suspicious behavior of authorities that plays with the thin line between tenant/landlord relationships is just one of them. Especially with situations created by the kind of fires that may themselves have been suspicious in nature.

See coverage in press:

When the brave-heart fought wild tides for the guests in Pahalgam – the True Story

By Zishan Amiri Posted on June 13, 2019 on freepresskashmir
As a homeboy growing up playing with wild tides of river Lidder in picturesque Pahalgam, Rouf Dar was the best rafter in town. This past Ramzan, fighting the same roaring river for guests, his tide ties snapped so suddenly that it shook his hometown and gave Kashmir a new fallen hero.

Just like any other Ramzan evening, Ghulam Rasool Dar on May 30, 2019 dialled a call back home from duty to check if his wife and children had done their iftaar on time. But the unexpected response from the other side of the phone line froze him.

His eldest among the two sons, Rouf Dar wasn’t home yet and his out of reach phone was quite a rarity. A tumour patient himself, Ghulam Rasool tried to ease down his wailing wife, Tasleema, in a way to assure himself as well: “Where would he even go? He has a well-built personality. He would fight hundreds. None could do bad to him.”

Hailing from picturesque town of Pahalgam in south Kashmir, Rouf was in his late teenage years when he first romanticised with his village’s native water body, famous for its rafting amongst tourists all across.

He would find peace playing along the dancing tides of river Lidder. He had been friends with its gigantic rocks and the ever-giggling white waters. Over the years and by 2019, he was looked upon as ‘the best’ rafter to have romanticized with the beautiful river. Perhaps, this must be one of the reasons Rouf decided to go against the tides, that day – May 31, 2019.

Having had perfectly mastered all the tricks and turns of Lidder, he couldn’t say no to the repeated requests of a group of tourists from Kolkata to raft them through.

Despite having warned about the upset water flow, the tourists were adamant. They had reasoned Rouf about their departure scheduled next morning and that they cannot fly back home without experiencing Kashmir’s famous white water rafting. And the ‘kind-hearted’ boy of river Lidder, just couldn’t have disappointed them.

It was close to 5:30 in the evening, an hour past the closing time decided that day by the rafter association, owing to the bad weather conditions. Across the entire stretch, it was only Rouf and his floating raft at the start point, as the group of five tourists and a guide accompanying them made their way in.

And in case of any mishap, a rescue boat had also been arranged to ensure tourists’ safety. With that, Rouf peddled his boat as the tourists cheered in joy.Back home, Rouf’s mother had been long-preparing his favourite delicacies for iftaar.

Every day, he would finish his work and reach home by 7:00 pm, and lend a helping hand to decorate the dastarkhwan, then to break the tiring fast with his wife, mother and his younger brother – all together sharing a sumptuous smile alongside the meat feast. This had now become a routine.

But that day, when Rouf did not return even after half an hour past the iftaar time, his younger brother tried to reason with worried Tasleema saying, maybe, he must have been busy with work.

As the leader of a union of rafters, 32-year-old Rouf was always a busy man.

During the 2014 floods in Kashmir, he and his associates had peddled their raft all the way down to Anantnag, where they rescued people day and night, returning back home only after six long days.

He knew his job in-and-out.

In 2016, a tourist raft had flipped after crashing with a wooden pole of a leftover footbridge. Rouf, who was luckily present at the area of the crash, pulled his raft and rescued all the tourists back to the safe base.

On the fateful day, Rouf had again found himself in middle of another rescue act.

A sudden cloudburst had spiked the water levels in the Lidder and the subsequent strong winds had upturned the raft entirely.

Moreover, as narrated by Javed Ahmad, one of the rafters on the rescue boat, the water fury was such that the two rafts had parted away and Rouf was left all by himself.

Soon after the crash, according to Javed, Rouf got himself up on the flipped raft, held it to a steady spot, and selflessly dived into the wild Lidder to reach out to the tourists screaming for help.

For the next half an hour, he was at it: easing down the once friendly, but now, a wild river Lidder, its ever-giggling, but now ruthlessly screaming tides, only to save the lives of his guests from Kolkata, all while more than 12 hours had passed since he had last eaten anything or sipped even a glass of calm water.

Back home, his mother Tasleema was still waiting for him to join her for iftaar.“It was sharp 8:08 pm,” Rouf’s father Ghulam Rasool recalls, “I had called my wife.”

While on phone as Ghulam Rasool was still trying to ease down Tasleema, Rouf’s younger brother got a call from the villagers. The bad news had arrived.

“Rouf sahab’s raft has turned over…”

Tasleema screamed on phone, Ghulam Rasool’s heart slipped a beat, as Rouf, away from his home, lost his grip and swum to the dark ends of Lidder, as its tides took him along, once and forever.

His dead body was found next morning at 6:00 am by his fellow rafters and the team of State Disaster Response Force alongside J&K Police.Rouf’s heroics earned high respect on social media. Some termed his act as the spirit of Kashmiriyat. But many simply called it an act of Insaniyat.

However, under the shadow of praises and monetary compensation from the state, the young rafter’s untimely death highlights concerning point that has gotten broadly overlooked.

While Rouf’s heroics must be surely recognised, the fact that the incident would have not occurred had the tourist not badgered him, should also be considered.

Several white-water rafting guidelines suggest that the tourist-trips should be timed to finish at least an hour before dark, while in the case of Rouf, the closing time had been declared 4:30 pm that fateful day.


But his father reasons that his son’s ‘kind heart’ couldn’t have allowed him to say no to the tourists.

Rouf was married only four years back. A BA and BEd degree holder, he had been long trying to apply for a government job to look after his tumour-ridden father, an ailing mother, a wife, and an undergraduate younger brother.

“Maybe, this was what his destiny had in store for him…” Ghulam Rasool concludes, in a way, making uneasy peace with his brave-heart son’s tragic demise.

Breathtaking Baisaran & Lake Tulian (Tulyan) in Pahalgam

Baisaran and Tulian Lake
5 kms from Pahalgam is a lush meadow surrounded by hills and covered with dense vegetation. This region looks very similar to European resorts and is a good campsite.
There even have been Bollywood movies shot in Basisaran, the Kumar Gaurav starrer ‘Love Story’ 1891 ) comes to mind whose song ‘Phulon Ke Shehar me hai ghar apna’ was shot in Baisaran.
Pine forests dot this meadow which presents a picturesque view of the snow-clad mountains.
11 kms up a trek from Baisaran is Tulian or Tulyan lake – the make is mostly snow covered – other than summers – and is at an altitude of 3353m.
In recent years, there is now even a forest road to Baisaran and in summer months you could try and drive up there.

Forest Road to Baisaran
Forest Road to Baisaran
Beware that there are portions on the forest road where you may encounter a stream or two, with small boulders, and even some steep curves – so take your car on your own peril. The forest road ‘officially’ may be out of bounds for tourists – but don’t sweat over it, and just give it a try. Once you get there, you will even see some place for parking.
The drive to Baisaran can be rocky
The drive to Baisaran can be rocky

View of Pahalgam from the forest road to Baisaran
View of Pahalgam from the forest road to Baisaran

But when you are in Pahalgam, why would you even take your car up there? Usually people would make a day trip to Baisaran on pony, or just trek up there. Its one of the easiest and family friendly treks. Once in Baisaran, you can expect to find a stall or two selling snacks and soft drinks. There may even be an Indian army camp near by.
Trek up to Tulian could be another matter. Its challenging – some of the heights are tough, and there is no trek really laid out. Tulian could be covered in one day if you leave Pahalgam at dawn, and trek briskly, or just go on a pony. Or you could plan an overnight trek. Unless you have a very good sense of direction on hills and passes, its advisable to take experienced guide or go with local poly wallahs.
This video (courtesy Ajay Verma) shows a breakthtaking visual story of the trek to Tulian Lake. When you trek in Pahalgam area, don’t be surprised to meet a Gujjar or Bakarwal family in the middle of nowhere. And even more, you will be welcome as their guests over a cup of tea (as seen in the video), or can ask them about the area.

Pony and labourer rates for Amarnath Yatra

Following are the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board approved rates:
(All Rates in Rupees for 2010):
I Riding/Pack Pony
– Chandanwari to Holy Cave and back 2782.5
– Baltal to Holy Cave and back 1800

II Dandy
– Chandanwari to Holy Cave and back 10500
– Baltal to Holy Cave and back 6000

III Labourer
Chandanwari to Holy Cave and back 1365
Baltal to Holy Cave and back 1000

IV Labourer with Pithoo
Chandanwari to Holy Cave and back 1470

Helicopter services for the Yatris would be available on each of the two routes viz. Baltal – Panjtarni – Baltal and Pahalgam – Panjtarni- Pahalgam. The one way heli-fare for Baltal- Panjtarni and Pahalgam-Panjtarni has been fixed at Rs. 2425/- and Rs. 3800/-, respectively. Children, between the age of 2-12 years, will be required to pay half the prices.