Sopore: The arduous trek from Hardishiva village of Sopore on bumpy and meandering hill track takes to a tiny village, Marbal, situated in the midst of dense forest, away from the human civilization. A cluster of old-fashioned houses shelters a tiny population of 60 families, which lives a typical primitive life. The tranquility of village has never been disturbed by honks of vehicles or the ringtone of cell phone. The school is a dropout factory, health facility is unimaginable and electricity is a big luxury.
The village connects with the outer world for a few summer months but remains largely disconnected as winter sets in.
The impoverished villagers encircled this correspondent to narrate their woeful tale of neglect and despondency.
“We have to trek down a distance of 9 kilometers to reach Hardishiva village to catch a bus,” said 59-year-old Mohammad Maqbool Reshi, reasoning why most of the schoolchildren, especially girls turn out to be dropouts.
“The facilities like primary health center, daily needs shop, food store, and other basic facilities are not available here,” Reshi said adding the villagers stay in touch with the outer world through radio broadcasts.
“A number of sick people in our village require medical attention but we can’t provide it to them. We have wooden stretchers for emergency situations to carry a sick person to health facility,” he said.
Abdul Aziz Reshi, 60, said the villagers do not know who runs the government because they do not feel it in their lives. “During elections we see political leaders visiting our place and making tall promises. They forget even our faces after the elections. If we approach them, they refuse to meet us,” he said.
A quick look at the village substantiates what the villagers utter. There is no clean water or electricity for basic purpose of lighting houses during night hours. “After four months, we received electricity last night,” Reshi said.
The walk to the nearest health centre is more than 9 kilometers. “Some time back a boy was electrocuted at his home. He died on way to health centre. A pregnant lady developed pain a few days back. We carried her on wooden stretcher but she delivered a baby on way before reaching the health facility. The baby died a few hours later,” Maqbool Reshi said adding such incidents occur regularly.
“We don’t have mobile phones or any other type of communication. A few of us do possess mobile phones but we to walk 5 kilometers to catch signals,” Reshi said.
Interestingly, many villagers have not stepped out of the hamlet all through their life. “I have not seen any place except my own village,” a 15-year-old boy told Kashmir Reader.
The village does not have any means to come out of the present primitive state. The school is old-fashioned and breeds illiterates. “The lone primary school has 70 students enrolled with two local teachers to cater to them. The outsiders do not want to work in our village,” Abdul Aziz, another villagers said.
“Most of our kids leave education after completing their 5th class. The girls are most vulnerable. There is fear of wild animals and army. Therefore, we did not send our children to study further in nearby villages,” he said.
“Last year a village girl was harassed by the army troopers on way to Yamberzal village. When we complained, the police instead of carrying out any investigation, started beating and harassing us,” Mohammad Maqbool lamented.
Local legislator Haji Abdul Rashid Dar told Kashmir Reader that the residents of Marbal village approached him with grievances just once. “If they come to me again and let me know about their grievance, I will definitely try to redress them. It is their right,” he said. Asked if he has personally visited the forlorn village Dar said, “It is impossible. The condition is not right, how will I reach there. Let them come to me, I will try to fulfill their genuine demands,” he said.