Partial Re-Opening of Mughal Road: Right or Reward?

By Tahir Qureshi  

MUGHAL road connects the twin districts of poonch and rajouri with the valley of Kashmir and reduces the distance between Shopian and Poonch from 588 km to 126 km. It is a historical route which was made functional for vehicular movement way back in 2009. It is about 84 kilometers from Bufliaz (poonch) to Hirpora (Shopian). This route is known for its beautiful sights and scenes: lush meadows, gushing waterfalls, tossing and lurching trees and chirping birds, all persuade the tourists across the country to visit this area. It is surrounded by snow laden mountains which glitter like silver throughout the year and this sight adds the charm and miraculous beauty of the area. But unfortunately, this road witnesses heavy snowfall during the winters particularly at Pir Ki Gali which makes it non-functional for vehicular movement for a period of about six months (October to April) in a year. During these months, the route is covered with heavy snow and there is no feasibility of traffic movement. The government always pursues a casual approach to make it feasible for vehicular movements throughout the year. It is pertinent to mention here that in 2019, the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited had hired a Spanish Consultancy firm along with an Indian private consultant company to prepare a detailed report for the construction of a tunnel on Mughal road. It apparently seemed that the companies were compiling a detailed project report to estimate its approximate cost and once it was prepared, the work on the project could be started at any time. But this is very unfortunate for the people of Pir Panjal region that till date no further development on this project could be gauged.

The benefits of transforming this vital route into an all weather road are twofold: on the one hand this route helps the tourists to explore some beautiful picnic spots and it remains a sight of attraction for them. On the other hand, it provides a sigh of relief to the people of twin districts of Poonch and Rajouri as they have received access to better educational and medical facilities in Kashmir valley by using this route. There is no denial of the fact that these districts do not have a good educational and medical infrastructure and people of the area are in pursuit of availing better facilities in the following sectors. Since the functioning of this route, the student community of this region did benefit by pursuing higher education in the valley. The medical sector of these districts also presents a gloomy picture and the patients either approach Jammu or Srinagar for receiving some better treatments. In the past there were numerous medical casualties from this area which were referred to SKIMS Soura, whence after receiving proper treatment their recovery was made possible.

This year, the needless closure of Mughal road has compounded the plight of common man amidst this pandemic, when the COVID patients need better medical facilities to recover. As usual this year too, the snow clearance process was initiated in the month of March and around 15th April the route was made functional but the government only permitted it for vehicular movement on 20th of May after protests by people. Due to this delay and negligence from  the administration, numerous precious lives have been lost. Can the present divisional and district administration compensate the families of deceased who lost their beloved only due to the lack of proper treatment in the hospitals of these districts and restrictions on shifting them to SKIMS in the valley? This question will frequently be asked by the families of those helpless and hapless departed souls who lost their earthly existence in fighting against COVID-19 and it happened only due to the heedlessness of administration.

On the other hand, ignorance and oblivion rule over the masses of these neglected districts as they are not aware of their fundamental rights in a democratic set up. Some political forces have turned the common man into such an ignorant and innocent creature that rationality and sanity is a distant dream for him/her. There are people who are taking the credit for the partial opening of the route without taking into account that this might be insensitive given how many people have lost their lives because of the closure of this route till now.

The prerequisites of any prosperous and developed nation are its citizens having rational and logical minds as they are the pillars on which the edifice of a strong nation is built. This ‘credit bearer’ section of society has turned the innocent people’s intellect to a minimum rational thought process and pushed them to the slough of ignorance at such a level that they are unable to distinguish between their rights and rewards or boons by someone. Had they paid any heed to being sensitive, they would have never driven the narrative of making a Right seem like a favour.

Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer 

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