Redress grievances or allow us to return back: Refugees
M T Rasool
Gurez (Bandipora), Oct 22: Separated from their native land of Astor and Gilgit (PaK), hundreds of refugees are being forced to live without basic amenities in the remote backward valley of Gurez Bandipora.
While the whole Gurez and Tulail valley has witnessed development at nearly at par with other areas of valley the two villages inhabiting PaK refugees looks ancient with shabby roads, no water, electricity or health facility.
Residing in about 50 Kacaha houses on the top of Kilsahey peak at the height of around 11,000ft in Gurez, almost population of 800 refugees have been forced to live without basic amenities from previous 67 years. The villages they inhabit are named as Refugee ‘1’ and Refugee ‘2’(hereafter R1 and R2)
Alleged government of step motherly attitude towards them, refugees said “not a single facility have been provide to these refugees from 1947 to 2014, though they are the registered electoral and are being provoked to participate in the elections whenever politicians feel their need”
R1 and R2 are located 20 Km from the main town Dawar of Gurez valley and one has to seek the help of ponies to reach the R1 and R2 hamlets without any road or track.
Alleging Administration of lackadaisical attitude, the illiterate and innocent refugees in R1 and R2 while complaining said “we have never been visited by Government official from previous 60 years, whenever any government representative tried to reach us they used to enjoy greenery of Gurez in Summers or enjoy the sweat heat of chimneys in military camps where from they give false reports without knowing our real position”
People in R1 and R2 have crossed the LoC after 1947 and start temporarily residing Dawar,Tullial and Markoot,where they mixed with Dard Tribals with the passing time and learn Shina Language but in early 70’s they were settled by the government in the forest Land in Kilsahy Beat opposite and near to the Zaffran Post of Pakistani Military.
“When we got separated from Our mother land of Gigilt and Astor (PoK) we spread in various villages of Gurez, but when Indian government come know about us they settled us in high altitudes of Kilsahy forest which is highly Avalanche prone without any facility yet” said Abdul Khalil, adding “no one among the Government machinery have visited our villages except Political agents who have registered us as voters for their own interests”
Refugees in R1 and R2 are the traditional shepherds who are dependent on rearing sheep’s and other animals, they are mostly using wild grasses as vegetable as they are far away from the only market of Dawar in Gurez.In early 90’s government tried to resettle them in Targbal and Purana Tullial forests but lacking the pasture lands they preferred to be in Kilsahy Mountains.
“Sheep, goats and other animals are our only source of income we have no employment in our villages” said Muhammad Sikendar, adding “we first seek places for our animals then ourselves because we are surviving with our animals”
Demanding the immediate attention of Indian Government, refugees said “we are now obsessed with the state as well as district administration who are getting corores of funds in the name of developing border areas, if the government is not caring for us, any time we will seek opportunity and fled back to our mother land PoK”
“If governed is not redressing our grievances they should allow us to return back”Reugees said.
Residents from Refugee 2 were rehabilitated near Tamam Achoora after a devasting fire incident engulfed about 26 houses in R2.But the affected refugees termed rehabilitation an announcement to get political mileage.
Talking to Kashmir Conevner Sub Divisional Magistrate Ghulam Modi-ud-Din Shah said, “Government is trying hard to make every facility available to these refugees, though they are residing at higher attitudes, so providing every facility is not possible.
He added that government is making efforts to provide very facility to these refuges
However he said that such areas are being developed under the centrally sponsored schemes of Border development.