Mujahideen supremo Syed Salahuddin’s village cries for water
Water, water everywhere in Kashmir- in Jhelum, Indus and Chenab
- but not a drop to drink in Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin’s
native village Soibug situated in Central Kashmir’s Budgam district. As
the chief of Kashmir valley’s largest militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen
and also the head of the United Jehadi Council (UJI) – the conglomerate
of various militant groups fighting for Azadi in Kashmir, though Syed Salahuddin
or Moulvi Yusuf Shah or Peer Sahib as he is popularly known as in this
small sleepy village situated some 20 km from Srinagar, may control “jehad”
in Kashmir, however he cannot provide succor to his own people in the form
of the water.
Faced with acute water shortage in this small Budgam village having
a population of over 6,000 people, the villagers who are facing much difficulty,
are forced to drink the water having high iron content. Interestingly ,
the village to which no water supply scheme was made available since past
55 years of independence, also remained neglected by the successive government
in the past 13 years of turmoil.
Most of the people here attribute it to the biased attitude of the government
towards this village as the militant commander Syed Salahuddin hails from
this picturesque place. Presently in Pakistan-occupied- Kashmir, Salahuddin
still has a single storeyed house here which is presently abandoned. His
brother Merajuddin and his family still resides in this village.
The villagers says that it is because of this apathetic attitude of
the government towards them that they have been denied water supply.
Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi, the powerful religious leader belonging to
dominating Shia community of Budgam district who is also the sitting MLA
from Budgam and has a massive following the area, informed The Statesman
that the former PHE minister Ali Sagar got two tube wells dug in
this area but unfortunately they bore no water. A third tubewell
was also dug later which had some water. But even this tubewell water is
not fit for drinking as it has much iron content in it which was not good
for health,”said Aga Ruhullah adding that the government did not give any
attention to the acute drinking water problem of the people of the area.
Forced by the shortage of water, the villagers have been left with no
choice but to drink the polluted water of small streams besides the water
of the tubewell having high iron content.
Even the minister for Public Health and Engineering Qazi Mohammed Afzal
admitted in the State Assembly recently that the inhabitants of the village
Soibugh were facing hardships for want of drinking water. The government
also admitted in the House that it has time and again assured the poor
hapless villagers of the area to solve this problem once for all by providing
adequate water supply scheme. But no measures have been taken so far.
“The service level of Water Supply Scheme Sholipora Soibugh constructed
decades back is reduced affecting the villages at the tail end . Efforts
are afoot to mitigate the scarcity of water,”said Afzal.
However Ruhullah said that as there was feasibility of getting the water
supplied through HMT Sharifabad, the government should immediately provide
the villagers with this water supply.