Baramulla: Gopalan, a village in Pattan area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, is located at a distance of five kilometers from the Srinagar- Baramulla highway near Palhalan but it is deprived of most of the basic facilities including drinking water, proper road facility and mobile connectivity.
The old village is known for sand collection extraction from riverbed of Jhelum and almost all households eke out their livelihood from the river. The village comprises of almost eighty families whose houses are concentrated in a stretch surrounded by a dilapidated road on one side and a tributary of Jhelum, which remains dry most of the time, on the other.
In the absence of proper roads, this village is disconnected from the rest of the places. The situation gets worse when a natural disaster strikes. “On September 14, 2014, a devastating flood destroyed everything that we had in the name of shelter. We took help of our relatives and friends to build our houses again. Since we don’t have any proper approaching road in the village, we had to unload all the material before the nallah and take it from there manually on our heads or on handcarts,” village headman Ali Mohammad Dar said.
Mehmooda Begum, 35, who is married to a sand collector told Kashmir Reader that the government officials who surveyed her house after floods provided Rs 5,000 only after she paid Rs 2,000 to him.
Mehmooda said that her village has been literally ostracized because of the lack of facilities. “No villager from the adjacent villages is willing to marry off his daughter in our village. They don’t want to give their girls to a village which has no facility. To top it all, we don’t receive guests because they don’t feel comfortable staying with us,” she said.
The villagers complain that the nearest healthcare facility is several kilometers away. In case of emergencies, caregivers carry the patient on their shoulders in a cot or had to go by foot to get a vehicle to reach the health centre,” Ali Mohamad said.
Due to non-availability of transport facility, our boys and girls have to travel five kilometers by foot to reach to their education centers located at Palhalan village. The villagers say this was the major reason for youth to become school dropouts.
“We work like donkeys to build our lives. The people in power make misleading and false promises to fetch our votes but after cruising through, they forget our village,” he said adding that legislator Imran Ansari, now a minister in Mehbooba Mufti’s cabinet got around 250 votes from the village “but we are sure he won’t be remembering the name of our village”.
“We have given many applications to PHE department to provide us water supply facility but till this time nothing has been done to address our complaints”, he said.
Similar is the case of education. A local teacher claimed that 75 percent of the people in this village are illiterate. The primary reason for such high illiteracy is the absence of a high school or higher secondary school. He said, “After class sixth, the students need to travel 5 to10 kilometers to attend the school.”
“The primary school under SSA in the village has only three teachers for almost 70 students of roll”, the teacher added.
Imran Ansari was not available to comment while the sub-district officer Sarfaraz Ahmad was on leave.