KO Archives-Mar,26,2005:Snow Furry Aftermath;Homeless Take Over School

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SRINAGAR — A village hard by last month’s heavy snowfall and avalanches in south Kashmir is facing another problem – classes in the local school have stopped as it is being used as a make­shift camp for the homeless.

The bad weather and resultant avalanches claimed some 350 lives across the state, including hundreds killed in the Waltango area in south Kashmir Febru­ary 19. Families who lost their homes in the massive avalanches are currently living in the government-run school building at Yari Khushipora village of Anantnag district. 73 km from here, occupying all its classrooms and laboratories. This resulted in a piquant situation. Teachers posted at the school come simply to mark their attendance in the morning and without biking classes – simply because there is no available space for classes.

“We can only start classes after the homeless people are shift­ed.” said a teacher. The school building in Yar Khushipora also housed a private school that has now begun conducting classes in the open air. The suffering of the survivors of the avalanches is now spilling over into the lives of hundreds of others whose children have been unable to attend school.

“The government must immediately arrange the permanent rehabilitation of these survivors as their stay in the school build­ing is threatening the careers of our children.” said a parent in Yar Khushipora. The homeless too are embarrassed because of the tension their continued presence in the school building has been creating in the village.

“We are unfortunate victims of a natural disaster but this should not create undeserved hardships for other people hi the village.” said Bashir Ahmad., a homeless man living in the school.

(Kashmir Observer, 26 March, 2005)

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