By Prof. M. Aslam
The mercury in the Kashmir valley has broken the 3-decade record when the temperature dropped to minus 8.8 degrees Celsius on 31st January 2021. At some places, it dipped to minus 12 degrees. The harshest winter seems to have inflicted a host of miseries on common people. There is an acute water crisis, the price hike has touched peak due to frequent highway closure apart from deaths and damage to properties. People are not able to reach hospitals for urgent treatment due to un-cleared snow and frozen roads resulting into road blockages. It also badly hits the essential supply to reach people.
It is reported that in the month of January a number of fire incidents took place, On January 18 alone three fire incidents were reported in a single day in Srinagar. The movement of fire tenders was badly hampered due to un-cleared snow on the roads. It left a number of families homeless in these harsh winters months. We have seen videos of collapsing roofs on social media. It is simply inhuman to allow these miseries to continue.
Both the national media and local administration seems to be unconcerned about the miseries people suffer. It becomes a national news if some dignitary or group of people are visiting Gulmarg for winter sports or a courier boy delivers on horse but people dying due to harsh winter miseries does not catch their attention. It seems that Panchayat election were more important than human lives being lost due to harsh winter. The local administration makes lot of claims but the fact remains that it is a nightmare situation for the common people. The water supply pipes are frozen inside houses and same is the case with the water storage tanks. Lot of people don’t have any water supply even for drinking for last 3-4 days and are using melting snow for essential needs. The same is the case with electricity. There are areas in and around Srinagar city where there is no electricity supply for 3-4 days at a stretch. If transmission generator becomes dysfunctional for any reason, it takes weeks for the department to repair. It is inhuman and the situation warrants an urgent attention by all if we treat Kashmeris also as human beings.
The onset of winter is not something like unexpected floods but a part of annual calendar., Necessary preparations including ensuring of snow clearing machines, supply of essentials supplies, water supply and electricity were supposed to have been kept in place much before the onset of winter. It seems that Govt and local administration were too much occupied with panchayat elections that they forget about onset of winter and its associated miseries.
People are taken for granted as if they are meant to die. What is perhaps important for them is whether J&K is an integral part of India or not. This mindset has to change from “loving land to loving people.”
Prof M. Aslam is a Sociologist and can be reached at email@example.com