Protesters demanding water get police batons, 5 hurt

Baramulla: At least five people were injured Monday in violent clashes triggered by the shortage of drinking water in Magam town of central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
Hundreds of men, women and children of Peth Kanihama, Adinoo, Wata Magam and other neighbourhood villages this morning took to streets and staged demonstrations against the public health engineering (PHE) department for allegedly failing to provide clean drinking water to the villagers, eyewitnesses told Kashmir Reader. Chanting anti-government slogans, the protesters alleged that they were suffering due to the paucity of water in the holy month of Ramadan. The protesters blocked Srinagar-Gulmarg highway to seek the attention of the district authorities.
“However, a police team came and started thrashing the protesters without any justification. Even the women were not spared. The cops also lobbed several teargas canisters. We were not carrying stones or lathis. We were only asking for water,” Manzoor Ahmad, a protester said.
He said that five people, including women suffered injuries in the cane charge by cops. He identified two of the injured women as Raja Begum, wife of Abdul Gani Dar and Zareefa Bano, wife of Farooq Ahmad Ganai.
Ahmad said that the womenfolk have to travel around a kilometre to fetch water for a stream. He said despite repeated requests; the PHE officials are unmoved with their ‘sufferings’.
“It has not been an issue of a day or two. For over two months now, we have been suffering for water. No one is listening to us,” he added.
The locals also alleged that despite a nod, work on Sukh Nag water scheme has not been started much to the disappointment of the villagers.
Assistant Executive Engineer, PHE, Sub Division Beerwah, Bashir Ahmad told reporters that the problem of water scarcity in Magam villages will be addressed within two days.
“Till then, water tankers will be supplied to the villagers. The locals will not face any inconvenience,” he said.
When asked why work on Sukh Nag water scheme has not commenced, he said the work will be started as soon as the funds are released by the government.
“We don’t have funds to commence the scheme. As and when it reaches us, we’ll start work,” he added.