BUDGAM: The road leading to Ringazbal village, which originates from Zoogu, is full of craters, potholes, bumps, dust, mud and water. Ringazabal is a small village with a scattered population comprising about 350 households in the north-west of Budgam district. The residents here have threatened to boycott the forthcoming parliamentary elections in protest against the failure of successive governments to provide basic amenities.
Scores of people who spoke to Kashmir Reader said they would boycott the Lok Sabha elections because despite bringing their miseries to the notice of officials and politicians, nothing had improved.
Of the road leading to their village, local resident Mohammed Sharief Poswal said, “This road was laid decades ago but it is still not motorable. People of this village have to walk miles on foot both in the harsh winter and in the scorching summer.”
Poswal added, “We do manage walking in the daylight but if someone’s health deteriorates during odd hours, we have to carry them on the shoulders to the hospital, which is located miles away.”
He said patients have died on way to the distant hospital. “A lady, Fareeda Bano, wife of Ghulam Hassan Poswal, developed labour pain during the night a few years ago. We were taking her to hospital when she breathed her last on the way,” he said.
He said two women had a narrow escape from death this winter after they developed labour pain.
Another resident, Mohammed Sharief Khasan – who leads prayers at the main masjid and is popularly called “Molvi saab”, said, “Ours is a sorry tale of neglected people. The people here have been neglected by the authorities for decades. Have a look at our taps: they are all running dry. Check our mobile phones: they have no network at all. Check the electricity: it mostly goes off. See around and you won’t see a single toilet,” he said.
“The water supply lines are so old that they have rusted and have disappeared beneath the soil,” he added. “One tap supplies water to a dozen households. Is it possible that it can meet our needs? Is it justice? Aren’t we humans here?”
School dropouts have drastically increased in this hamlet owing to the lack of a high school nearby. “We have a middle school here but after Class 8 we can’t send our wards miles away to study. This has forced our students to abandon their studies,” Khasan said.
Ali Mohammad, another resident of Ringazbal, said that a health institute was sanctioned for the area in 2014 but has not been constructed yet. “Instead, it has been diverted to some other village now,” he said.
The villagers said that their almost 120 votes would be denied to any political party as elected representatives had not been sympathetic to their rightful demands.