Monday, August 8, 2011

64 years on, residents still awaiting freedom Mohar Jamsher village near Pak border

Mohar Jamsher (Fazilka), August 7
To get married is the biggest problem in this tiny village surrounded by the Indo-Pak border from three sides and by the Sutlej on the other. The country is preparing to celebrate its 64th Independence Day but nearly 700 residents of this village are still 'caged' as they have to take the permission of the Border Security Force (BSF) every time while entering or leaving the village and that too through a lone medium — an old wooden boat that is used to ferry light vehicles as well.

The strictness of the security forces and the topography of the village have made it totally different from the outer world. A few villagers have recently witnessed the rejection of marriage proposals. During a visit to the village after taking permission from the BSF and crossing the Sutlej on a boat, a mini India was found within the fence crying for immediate development.

Though a primary school, temple, gurdawara and panchayat house are there, yet the lack of any permanent link to connect it with the rest of the country is forcing its residents to lead a tough life.

Some of the villagers even got married in their own village as a majority of people from villages outside had a break in relations with them due to its unusual topography. "My brother got marriage proposals twice from other villages, but when the families visited, they dropped the idea without citing any reason," rued Gulshan, who runs a flour mill in the village.

Besides Gulshan, a number of villagers said they had spent their life but the future of their next generation was in the hands of the government.

"The elections are again approaching and the politicians would come to seek votes, but we have decided not to vote, as all the governments have failed to solve our problems," said Sher Singh. "Make this village separate from the rest of the country as we do not want to its part."

"Every monsoon, the swollen Sutlej wreaks havoc on this village by not only washing away the temporary bridge made by us over the Sutlej but also by causing damage to the fields and the cattle," rued the 50-year-old Sher Singh.

The BSF officials posted there informed that a pontoon bridge used to be there but it was dismantled this morning following the water level that touched the 9.6 feet mark. At this level of water, the floating bridge fails to sustain, so the CPWD officials dismantle it in July-August and reassemble it by the end of October, when the rainy season ends.

Speaking to a number of villagers, it was noticed that the literacy rate was about 10 per cent. Kulwant Singh, village sarpanch, said, "After completing class V, when our children go to nearby villages for further studies, they usually reach the school late and the teachers do not allow them to attend the classes, which results in a drop in the number of students."

Diseases like cancer, skin infection, dental problems and joint pain have gripped the residents in the absence of supply of potable water. There is no government health centre and the villagers face a number of problems while taking the patients or cattle for medical assistance.

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