Elderly man ‘betrayed’ by job promise in lieu of land

Elderly man ‘betrayed’ by job promise in lieu of land

SARINDER, BANDIPORA: Jamal-ud-Din Meelu, almost fifty years of age, is feeling betrayed over the promise made to him by the administration to offer him a job in the land he gave for the construction of a dispensary in the uphill Sarinder village of Bandipora district four years ago. Despite the construction being completed, Meelu is yet to receive his monthly stipend of Rs 500, for safeguarding the building, or even any confirmation of the job he was promised.
With his black eyes sunk deep in their sockets, beneath them he wears a salt-and-pepper beard over his thin, dark face. In his feeble voice, Meelu narrated that he was “very hopeful after the officials came requesting land for the dispensary from me”. Feeling not the slightest reluctance, and acting upon positive advice from his brother to go ahead with the offer, Meelu said he “agreed after the then Chief Medical Officer, Dr Bilques, and the BMO, Dr Mushtaq, personally came and promised me a job at the dispensary as Chowkidaar (watchman) if I offered them the land”.
With his weak physique and a huge family burden, Jamalu-ud-Din otherwise works as a farmer, mostly tilling his own land, and says he felt “relieved after the offer”. But after giving the administration more than a Kanal of his farmland, Meelu said he lost a “major chunk of small-time revenue-generating land. “The cereals produced there would be consumed by the family or sold for some money,” he says.
Meelu also lost his Kotha (mud house) in the year 2017 after heavy snow damaged its roof, thus bringing the humble house to collapse. With his five small children and a wife, Meelu started living at his brother’s home adjacent to his ruined house. Feeling overburdened, he even sent his two oldest children to the city for work as caretakers, which Meelu refuses to reveal stating that they are studying there. But his neighbours do not buy his version, saying that he is too poor to afford the children’s studies in the city. Among his five children, three are girls and two are boys. Meelu says his eldest daughter, Jameela, is in class five and his son, Lateef, is in 9th. The other three children are all below five with one still in her infancy.
Despite the dispensary being built in the same year Meelu’s land was acquired, the structure has now started collapsing as the administration seems to have “forgotten” it. According to the officials at the Health Department, “The building was still unsanctioned as the Roads and Buildings (R&B) Department was yet to hand it over.” The previous BMO, Dr Sayed Rehman, informed Kashmir Reader that, “Not the medical department, but R&B had promised the job in lieu of the land. The subcentre or the dispensary was not sanctioned to the Medical Department, but R&B was executing the construction work.” Rehman further said, “If any request for a job has been made by Meelu, it will in the records.”
However, despite stating that the building was unsanctioned, the dispensary is operational in one of the building’s rooms.
According to Meelu, repeated requests to the Deputy Commissioner and visits to officers in the Medical Department have fetched him nothing.
The recently joined Block Medical Officer, Doctor Ishfaq, sought brief information on the complaint and said that he will see what exactly the “issue” is. The Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Tajamul, didn’t answer the phone call from Kashmir Reader.