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Four members of Handwara family perish in search of water

Those arriving to mourn the death of his family members cannot bear his pain.
05:49 AM Jul 10, 2024 IST | TARIQUE RAHEEM
four members of handwara family perish in search of water

Kupwara, Jul 9: Sixteen-year-old Arshid is weeping and continuously looking for his father and siblings in the courtyard of his house at Rajpora in the Handwara area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.


Those arriving to mourn the death of his family members cannot bear his pain.


His maternal grandmother tries to console him but to no avail.


Neighbours revealed that Arshid, who is a student of 10th class at Government High School Rajpora was attached to his deceased father and two sisters.


Arshid is shattered as he can never see his father and deceased siblings anymore.


On the fateful evening, Arshid persisted his mother for an early dinner but she told him to wait until his father and siblings arrive with drinking water.


However, panic gripped the family when after three hours, the deceased did not return.


At about 9 pm, Arshid with his other brother went to ascertain the whereabouts of the family members but they returned without finding them anywhere.

They informed the neighbours about their having gone missing and decided to visit the police station at Zachaldara.

Following this, the Police and local Army unit launched a search operation and found the vehicle they were boarded in, in a deep gorge at Khikshi, 1 km from Rajpora.

The locals in Rajpora hardly knew that a routine trip to fetch drinking water would turn deadly for the Bhat family, claiming the lives of Ghulam Rasool Bhat, 55, Tahir Ahmad Bhat, 25, Shabnam Ara, 20, and Rifat Ara, 17.

The devastating incident has sparked outrage and grief among the locals who have long endured the harsh reality of living without basic facilities like water supply.

The residents of this remote village, situated 15 km from Handwara town, have been forced to trek half a kilometre daily to secure water, highlighting the abject failure of the authorities to provide essential infrastructure.

Despite promises under the Jal Jeevan Mission, Rajpora remains devoid of potable water, leaving its residents vulnerable and exposed to unimaginable risks.

“The administration’s negligence has cost us dearly," said a distraught local, echoing the frustrations of a community that has repeatedly protested for their fundamental right to water, only to be met with indifference.

Locals said that the promises made during high-profile visits by officials have evaporated, leaving the village in perpetual despair.

Following the tragic accident, which left the entire community reeling, residents took to the streets in a desperate plea for immediate action.

Their impassioned protests, including road blockades, served as a reminder of the human toll exacted by bureaucratic apathy.

As Rajpora mourns the death of four members of the family, the tragedy serves as a stark indictment of systemic neglect and administrative failure.

“The promise of sustainable water supply now hangs in the balance, a fragile hope that must be realised to prevent further tragedies and honour the memory of those who perished in pursuit of a basic necessity,” said Tariq Ahmad, a local.

“The fate of Rajpora underscores a harsh reality in the 21st century, a stark reminder that access to clean water remains a critical challenge for millions, a challenge that must be met with urgency and unwavering commitment to prevent such heart-wrenching catastrophes from recurring,” he said.

Meanwhile, Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Handwara, Aziz Ahmad Rather, and SDPO Handwara Satish Kumar visited the site of the accident and reassured villagers and pledged urgent intervention.

Amidst public outcry and media scrutiny, authorities have initiated the installation of long-overdue drinking water facilities in Rajpora.

However, for the grieving families and shattered community, these belated efforts offer no solace in the face of irreparable loss.

The family is survived by Jana Begum, 53, her two sons Imtiyaz Ahmad, 28, and Arshid Ahmad, 16, and her daughter Asmat Jan, 23.