Having been deceived time and again by the mainstream politicians, the people of this picturesque Tehsil of Varmul district appear determined to boycott the coming parliamentary elections to register their protest.
They have every reason to feel cheated as none of the promises held out to them by the powers that be were never kept. The main town which used to be connected with the surrounding villages and towns beyond through four bridges are yet to be constructed after these were damaged or washed away years ago.
The commuters are forced to take trouble of getting down from the buses and cross the makeshift bridges on foot and board the same. Then the condition of roads leading to various villages of the Tehsil are in a dilapidated condition. The rulers are expecting to vote even after taking us for a ride for decades together, lamented one Manzoor Ahmad of Quil Muqam.
There is no denying the fact that the Srinagar-Bandipore Road has been repaired after it was devastated by a government agency in the name of widening it for the so called KishenGanga Hydel project, but it took the government more than fifteen years to listen to our woes caused by the damaged road, said Farooq Ahmad of Aloosa.
The continued indifference shown by successive governments towards our problems has made us to lose faith in the politicians. They have been feeding us on empty promises and are now expecting us to vote for them, added Farooq. Why should we vote when our demands are not being fulfilled, lamented Irfan, Farooq’s neighbor.
According to Ghulam Rasool Zargar of Ajar, most of the water supply schemes in the Tehsil are existing on papers of PHE and the Dy Commissioner’s files. Most of the schemes were either never executed or if executed these did not work, added Zargar.This is why in most of the villages you will find people forced to draw waters from Nullahs and contract diseases like hepatitis, explains Zargar. As you move from Srinagar to Bandipore you can see how women are carrying waters in pitchers etc.
One of the long pending demands of the people is setting up of a college in the town to meet needs of the growing population which has not come up even though it stands sanctioned. Similarly services from the sub district hospital in the town have not improved despite commitments from the politicians. The hospital has the services of a qualified surgeon specialist available, but he cannot deliver as there is no anesthetist to provide the much needed support service. There are hardly any medicines available. To add insult to the injury of the people it is the paramedics, who have been there who run the health services in the hospital.
The people are equally alienated from the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party, the two main political parties which enjoyed some representation in the area before 1996 Assembly elections in one or the other form.
In 1996 the NC promised the people that it would ensure a check on human rights violation by the security forces.
Instead they were given the shock of their lives when the party installed one of their tormentors, Javed Shah, as an MLC,says Bashir Ahmad, an elder from the Tehsil. The late Shah was the most hated person in the whole area for the atrocities committed by him, yet the NC chose to elect him as the MLC, lamented Rafiq Ahmad from Madder village.
Then there was no change in the situation during the six long years of NC rule as the ordinary souls continued to be killed, maimed, tortured, humiliated and harassed all through the period, said Dr Abrar from the neighbouring village of Aragam. And when the PDP came to power we were promised peace with dignity, instead we saw the worst of the times during the coalition rule as is evident from a chain of incidents that made headlines.
One could have a feel of the mood of the people from the recent incident in which Umar Abdullah was given a chase by an irate mob when he visited the families of the victims of the Chittibandi carnage. The CM, Mufti Sayed, had to cancel his visit to the town after the intelligence agencies counseled him against the visit given the mood of the people.
No politician worth name from the pro-India political parties has been able to make it to the Tehsil in recent past. The area is yet to see any poll related activity even as the poll schedule for Varmul constituency stands announced.
The article first appeared in Greater Kashmir on April 05, 2004