Srinagar, Jan 26: Migrating to Kashmir has not brought a relief to the Rohingya refugees, as the bone chilling cold and scarcity of basic facilities has made life tougher for them.
Staying in three concrete buildings on rent at Khimber, at least 11 families of Rohingya refugees live without water or electricity.
Earlier this month, the electricity connection to these rented building was snapped.
“The lineman came and snapped the electricity to these buildings on the pretext of not being registered with the department,” Anayatuallah, a refugee, said.
It added to their woes, as these refugees coming from warmer regions are not used to cold.
“We are experiencing subzero temperatures for the first time. The lack of abundant clothes and blankets makes it even challenging for us,” Anayatullah said.
The refugees said that majority of them have fallen ill during winter, particularly elderly and children.
“Diseases like cold and cough is common among us now. Majority of our elderly people complain of bone-related ailments, as we sleep and sit on concrete floor here,” Anayatullah said.
At least, 18 displaced Rohingyas immigrated to Kashmir from Jammu last year and rented three buildings at Rs 2,000 per room.
Seven of them went to Jammu for winter to escape the harsh weather in the valley.
The refugee families said they had to learn using Kangri, a traditional fire pot, and Pheran, a Kashmiri cloak, to keep warm.
“Initially, we struggled to use it and our clothes would often burn. But now, every family has at least one Kangri to survive this unbearable chill,” Osman, also a refugee, said.
Among them, the children are the worst sufferers, who fail to beat the chill.
“The locals donated these clothes while some were bought from the markets. Our hands and feet get cold during evenings and mornings,” Ibrahim Khaleel, a five-year-old boy, said.
The Rohingya refugees claim that lack of drinking water was equally affecting them.
“We have a pond nearby, but the water there is unclean. We use that for washing clothes. For drinking water, we have to walk all the way to the Madrassa,” a refugee woman said.
The refugees said they can’t complain about the lack of facilities, fearing the threat of their evacuation from the area.
“The building is a new one and it hadn’t the facility of power and water. When it is not registered with the department there is no reason to complain about it,” Haroon Rashid, an elderly Rohingya refugee, said.
Doctors suspect jaundice outbreak in Batamaloo
Srinagar, Oct 12: Doctors are suspecting jaundice outbreak after 50 people were taken ill in Srinagar’s Batamaloo area.
Locals blame contaminated water for the outbreak in the area. Locals said untreated water, mixed with sewerage, was supplied to the households after an old pipeline was damaged in Syed Dawood Colony.
“We have very old water pipe in the area which has developed cracks. Recently a bulldozer damaged it completely. We have been visiting Public Health Engineering department to replace the pipeline but to no avail,” said Ghulam Rasool, a resident of Batamaloo.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Srinagar, Dr Talat Jabeen said that the blood samples of 50 people suspected of jaundice have been sent for the clinical examination.
“There is a broken water pipe due to which sewage water has got mixed with drinking water. People have been drinking the same water. We have sent an application to the PHE department and they have initiated repairing work,” Dr Jabeen said.
Health department has also sent its team to the area and for further investigation. “We are closely monitoring the situation. We are creating awareness through the mosques. We have also distributed chlorine tablets among the people,” the CMO said.
JK Congress to boycott BDC polls
The Congress on Wednesday decided to boycott the Block Development Council (BDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir, citing “indifferent” attitude of the state administration and continued detention of senior party leaders.
The BDC polls is scheduled to be held in Jammu and Kashmir on October 24. These will be the first elections to be held in the state since its special status was revoked under Article 370 on August 5.
“The Congress believes in strengthening of democratic institutions and never shied away from any polls. But today, we are compelled to take a decision to boycott BDC polls due to indifferent attitude of the state administration and continued detention of senior party leaders in the valley,” state Congress president G.A. Mir told reporters in Jammu.
Mir, who was himself under house arrest in Jammu and was recently released, charged that the state administration deliberately created hurdles for mainstream parties in order to facilitate the win of the ruling BJP.
“They have kept leaders and cadres under detention and did not allow the political atmosphere and political activity to take place and the Congress was deliberately targeted in this exercise,” the PCC leader charged.
Despite expressing its reservation on the timing of the polls and ongoing security situation, the Congress along with the National Panthers party had last week decided to take part in the BDC elections.
Mir said the Congress had approached the State Election Commission to facilitate smooth movement of its leaders after deciding to take part in the exercise.
“We had issued letters to candidates for taking part in BDC polls so that we could contribute to the democratic exercise and some of our candidates also filed their nominations,” he said.
However, since today was the last day for filing of nomination papers by candidates, “we have decided to stay away from polls which should have been deferred taking into consideration the prevailing situation in the state as was demanded by all opposition political parties.”
Mainstream political leaders in the valley, including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have been either detained or placed under house arrest since the government announced dilution of provisions of Article 370 over two months ago.
The state administration said last week that political leaders under house arrest in Kashmir will be released in a phased manner after proper analysis of every individual.
Day 66: Colleges reopen in Kashmir but students stay away
Srinagar, Oct 9: The efforts of the Jammu and Kashmir administration to reopen colleges in the Valley on Wednesday failed as students did not report to classwork, on the 66th consecutive day since the abrogation of the state”s special status under Article 370 on August 5.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Khan had last week announced that the schools would reopen on October 3 and the colleges on October 9 in Kashmir.
The staff reported for work at the colleges but the students stayed away, officials said.
Students also have not attended schools despite the administration”s several attempts.
The parents are reluctant to send their children to schools or colleges as they fear for their safety amid the shutdown and communication blackout in most parts of the valley.
On Wednesday, normal life continued to remain disrupted across Kashmir.
In the city, public transport remained off the roads but a massive traffic jam could be seen at the Jehangir Chowk crossing as private vehicles swarmed the commercial hub of Lal Chowk and surrounding areas.
To register their protest against the abrogation of the special status of the state, shopkeepers open their shops early in the morning till around 11.00 am and then down the shutters.
The shutdown has come as boon for the roadside vendors, who have been regularly setting up their stalls along the Residency Road and around the Polo View area of the city, witnessing a brisk footfall of customers.
While landline telephony services have been restored across the valley, mobile telephone services in most parts of Kashmir and all internet services continue to remain suspended since 5 August.
Most of the top level and second rung separatist politicians have been taken into preventive custody while mainstream leaders including two former chief ministers — Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti — have been either detained or placed under house arrest.
Another former chief minister and Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar Farooq Abdullah has been arrested under the controversial Public Safety act, a law enacted by his father and National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1978 when he was the chief minister.