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Budgam villagers reconstruct collapsed health centre

The village committee (awqaf board) made multiple representations to the district administration and panchayat regarding the reconstruction of the centre. But they did not allocate any funds to rebuild the structure…reports Mukhtar Dar

Fata Begum, the wife of Mohammad Ramzan Parray of Hukhlatri village, suffers from hypertension. The doctor had advised that Begum monitor her blood pressure regularly and be mindful of hypertensive symptoms to avoid complications such as a heart attack or stroke.

“Due to the lack of a basic health facility [here], Fata is forced to visit the sub-district hospital at Beerwah, which lies 15 km from the village, even for minor checkups,” Parray said. “If there were dedicated staff at our sub-health centre, then my wife and other such patients would not have to face this inconvenience for treatments.”

Self-sufficient community

Although health services come under the purview of the government, the residents of Hukhlatri village of Budgam district, Central Kashmir, were forced to take matters into their own hands back in 1989, after their repeated requests for a local health centre fell on deaf ears. This medical unit, which had been serving nearby villages for the past three decades, collapsed in 2018 due to heavy snowfall.

Mohamad Akbar Dar, a retired teacher, recalled: “In 1989, we approached the district administration and concerned ministers and MLAs to provide us with a basic healthcare facility. We had to use our own homes as makeshift immunisation centres in those days. However, when the government failed to establish even the minimum infrastructure, the village committee inspired the villagers to raise funds to construct a health centre on public land.”

Gh Mohideen, a retired police officer who’s currently the chairman of the village awqaf board, said, “After the building was constructed, we approached the then MLA Mir Lasjan, who pushed the Health Department to post the staff members required at this centre.”

Since then, this medical unit has catered to the healthcare needs of the residents of Hukhlatri, Bagander, Danas, Lasipora, and Ramhuma villages, which have a combined population of around 6 thousand people.

“It had been functioning smoothly and providing medical attention for minor health issues,” added Mohideen. “On the rare occurrence of an accident or emergency, the paramedical staff posted here would offer first aid.”

In 2018, the sub-health centre collapsed after heavy snowfall pummelled the Valley, halting all health services in the village. Doctors would hardly visit, but one nurse and a medical assistant remained available during the working days of the week.

The village committee (awqaf board) made multiple representations to the district administration and panchayat regarding the reconstruction of the centre. But they did not allocate any funds to rebuild the structure.

“We raised the issue at the Back to Village Programme in 2020, but nothing substantial was done,” Mohideen said.

‘Back to Village’, an initiative of the Jammu and Kashmir government, is a public outreach programme that helps engage villagers directly with officials of different departments to redress the issues that need immediate government intervention.

Mohmmad Shafi, deputy sarpanch of the village, said: “We raised the issue before every concerned official — from the district commissioner of Budgam to the block medical officer and District Development Council — but we failed to raise any funds through them. Not one person responded to our demands.”

Mohideen, the awqaf chairman, further added: “After waiting six months for the bureaucratic and panchayat machinery to act and redress the problem, we decided to construct it through the awqaf fund. Local households donated funds for the welfare of the village.”

In 2021, the Awqaf board completed the construction of the new health centre at a cost of around Rs 10 lakh — an exorbitant amount to be borne by the villagers.

Awqaf board to the rescue

The local village committee, called the awqaf board, has been instrumental in liaising between the government and villagers and assisting with public projects that serve the community.

Awqaf is an Arabic word, meaning assets that are donated, bequeathed, or purchased for being held in perpetual trust for general or specific charitable causes that are socially beneficial. Some of the causes supported through awqaf include poverty alleviation programmes, disaster relief, free health services, religious and contemporary education, heritage, culture, and environment. Thus, in addition to being a religiously significant institution, the idea underlying awqaf can be of significance to the larger development of the community. Historically, awqaf have played a significant role in providing sustainable finance for many basic social services, including — but not limited to — education and health.

In the same spirit, the village awqaf committee comprises local residents who work voluntarily in service of the community, managing charitable donations contributed by individuals or groups, mediating between the government and residents and, when the need arises, providing concrete support for public projects within the village — even if it means they complete the task themselves.

The awqaf board is actively involved in resolving local issues proactively. For instance, when heavy snowfall descended on the Valley rendering all roads unmotorable and plunging villages into darkness, they received negligible government assistance in clearing the streets or restoring the power supply. The village awqaf committee sprang into action and spearheaded the mission to remove the snow, de-ice the roads and assist the Power Development Department (PDD) in restoring electricity with the help of the local youth.

Government indifference

Even though the board took the initiative to build the village a health centre, the paramedical staff stationed there lacked basic accommodation facilities, like electricity, in the old building. The new building offers better accommodation; it was completely renovated, painted and equipped with power supply. However, the centre still lacks basic staff like doctors and other necessary medical personnel, for which the government sanction has not been granted yet.

A Health Department employee said: “The nurse posted here remains engaged in multiple tasks of the department, including vaccination duties in other villages, meetings and other official work. So she cannot stay at this sub-health centre the whole week.”

According to the Sub-Health Centre Guidelines of 2012, two auxiliary nurse midwives should be posted at the centre. It should be ensured that at least one of them is available at the centre, and that it remains open for OPD services on all working days. Only one of them may offer outreach immunisation services at a time. However, the nurses posted at this centre remain engaged in outreach services.

Saja Begam, a resident of Hukhlatri, demanded that regular paramedical staff be posted here, including doctors who can perform minor medical tasks like checking blood pressure, administering an injection and other first-aid treatments.

“Most households live in poverty, and they cannot afford the fare to visit another hospital for minor treatments. The block medical officer should allot a doctor for at least two days a week and regular paramedical staff, so we are not forced to wander in search of different hospitals,” she added.

In response to the allegations of neglect, Block Medical Officer of Beerwah Dr Javed Ganaie, said: “Since the awqaf body established the building, we could not reconstruct it after its collapse, as it was beyond our jurisdiction and duty. However, now that the awqaf rebuilt it, we have posted a nurse (tabassum) at the sub-health centre.”

“We are making attempts to provide more staff here,” he added. “It now functions as an immunisation centre, but we will upgrade it to the Centre-sponsored scheme as soon as possible. A mid-level health provider or doctor will be made available, and its infrastructure upgraded. Other health facilities such as blood, urine and sugar level tests, as well as provision for medicines, will be provided here, including treatment of other minor health issues.”

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Kashmir youth forum organises Sufism conference

The Jammu and Kashmir Youth development Forum has organised one day conference on “Philosophy of Sufism” at Town Hall Budgam which was attended by people from all walks of life.

Dr Sajid Ahmad wani appreciated JKYDF for promoting literature of love and high valued knowledge among the masses and selecting Budgam for holding such a prestigious conference on Sufiyat.


He said that Sufiyat has hundreds of years of roots in Kashmir and the time has come to revive this ideology of love and mutual brotherhood.

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Dr Sajid was highly impressed with the Sufi Content of Sufi books of Hundreds of Authors and called them true Glittering stars of Knowledge of Kashmir.

He said that unfortunately during the last 70 years Sufi literature was the biggest casualty and more than 72 lakh books were either destroyed in series of fire incidents in various khankah’s or deliberately kept out of circulations which gave free space to most unwanted literature causing a sense of disunity and divisions in the society.

Senior journalists, Ajaz Ahmad said that Kashmiris have always set an example of communal amity and brotherhood even during the worst of times and the reasons for that was they believed in Sufism. “

“The mainstay of Kashmir’s tolerance and co-existence has been our Sufism. Unless Sufism is restored to its centuries old glory, we cannot have a peaceful, tolerant and progressive society,” he said.

“Sufism is a path of spiritual advancements, an expansion of consciousness, leading to awareness of self and the universe. The substance of Sufism is selfless experiencing and actualization of the truth. The practice of Sufism leads to the development of innate spiritual and intuitive abilities,” Ajaz added.

Speaking on the occasion, the JKYDF founder, Farooq Ganderbali said that JKYDF plans to hold such conferences in every educational institutions of Kashmir valley in the coming months.

Among others, Dr Mohd Yaqoob Khan, Dr Rasheed former director, Abdul Ahad Yatoo, Naseer Ahmad ,Riyaz Fazili, DDC members of district  were present on the occasion.

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