Nadeem Qadri


Not yet thirty, Nadeem Qadri, Advocate comes from the land of Saffron Pampore, Kashmir.  Nadeem is always looking for platforms from which he can kindle yet another idea that can create a positive impact on our society. With his experience of working with various international NGOs like Action Aid International, Amnesty International (London), Youth for Change International, TakingITGlobal (Canada), Climate Crises (USA), and Youth for Human Rights (USA), he spoke about his efforts in the State of Jammu & Kashmir. Especially, his efforts in the area of forests and preservation of the Kashmir Stag – Hangul.

Some excerpts from an interaction with Rajesh Prothi.

You seem to be wearing many hats. You are the only lawyer handling trademark issues in the State. But what really is intriguing is your involvement in preserving the natural resources of the State. What has been your contribution to this cause?
N. Qadri: I will rest my case with a very old saying in Kashmiri “Aan Poshe Tali, Yali Wan Poshe” which means “food is subservient to the forests”.
And the natural resources which we are talking about include forests, water & wildlife give Kashmir an unquestionable status in the ecology of South Asia. The interdependency of these things, and their impact on human beings, made me understand the importance of environment & ecology and that really gave a boost to my activism; which I believe is an approach to saving our natural resources. I founded the first youth-based organization, “Youth Parliament of Jammu & Kashmir” (YPJK) with the sole objective of bridging the divide between the different regions of the State of J&K and starting a movement for environmental conservation. I launched YPJK from Jammu in 2005 and worked very hard to understand the importance of our natural resources and was surprised to know that the natural resource wealth of our State cannot be quantified in terms of economic value. Behind all these efforts is the fact that I am inspired by nature.

You are also very vocal on the issue of saving the Kashmiri Stag “The Hangul” (Cerves elephus Hanglu). How did saving the Hangul become part of your agenda and what initiatives have you taken on this front?
N. Qadri: There is another name by which I am known. People call me  “Hangul Boy” . It all started when I was in Class 10.  I formed a club under the name “Save Environment Club”. That was the beginning of my activism-based conservation approach, and today I am the only full-time environmental lawyer and Executive Director of Wildlife Conservation Fund, the first Wildlife organization in the State. I have a lot of responsibilities towards the commitments I have made in the past. My belief is that now the time is right to push this agenda across the political corridors for greater protection of the Hangul.

How did the idea for a campaign to save the Kashmiri Stag germinate?
N. Qadri: Honestly speaking, Browsing through Cambridge University’s initiative on Hangul motivated me more towards the protection of our State Animal. As a matter of fact, way back in 1972, a team from Cambridge had visited the Dachigam National Park for a project on the Hangul called “Operation Hangul”. This initiative excited me so much that I took the task of joining the broken link between Cambridge and the Kashmiri Hangul. I am working on that project now.
Subsequently, a campaign under the name “Save Hangul Campaign” was initiated by me in 2000. We brought the issue of Hangul into the limelight and we acted as a strong pressure group on the policy-making for wildlife conservation and the role of youth in decision making. In May 2013, our efforts got a boost when my inspiration, my mentor and friend Bittu Saghal came to Kashmir to support our initiative and we jointly launched the “Save Hangul Save Tiger” Campaign for the larger extension of our resource sharing.

What are the linkages between Hangul and Kashmir? 
N. Qadri: The Hangul, being the State Animal of Jammu & Kashmir is our identity. Over a period of time, the Hangul has become part of Kashmiri culture and ethos. What for sure is required is that the Hangul’s importance is restored. This can only be done with equal participation by the State & Central Governments and the local Kashmiris.

What do you expect the State Government to do in an effort to save the Hangul?
N. Qadri: The current status is that the State as an institution has literally failed in saving the Hangul along with its habitat. Today, the Hangul is confined within the 141 sq km of Dachigam National Park.

Unfortunately, due to various reasons, the Park is not safe for the Hangul. Today, this is the fate of this hapless creature. The Hangul is a very shy animal and any sort of disturbance in its habitat is detrimental to its growth and safety. Dachigam has become a place of recreation for VVIPs and the protectors of the National Park have turned it into a zoo. Encroachments have happened in the lower area of Dachigam which has resulted in a shrinking habitat for the Hangul. With the areas of Dachigam shrinking and the construction of a VIP lodge, sheep breeding farm, trout farm, bear enclosure and to add to this, the summer migration of sheep, goats, buffalos creates havoc. In such a situation, the Hangul has no place to go, except to cry out to survive.