Bond of Faith

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Gool-Victims

Omar led cabinet also took strong note of the killings and awarded Rs 5 lakh compensation to the kith and kin of deceased.

But the bigger question is gloomy in the minds of the local villagers in Gool area which witnessed mayhem. Omar Abdullah did not go to Gool. His government even prevented separatists from visiting the area.

The common question people in the area ask is, why Chief Minister Omar Abdullah cannot travel to the remote area of Gool and share the grief of members of the families whose families have lost their bread earners in the firing incident?

They admire Mehbooba Mufti, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president who travelled from Srinagar, to participate in the Chaharum of the deceased herself.

“Mehbooba Mufti is worth praising who came and spent some time with us,” a sarpanch, in a Gool Panchayat wishing anonymity told Kashmir Life.

A distinct feature of Gool is the language spoken by its people. Though situated on the other side of Banihal, with no apparent links with Valley, the people of these villages speak Kashmiri with a distinct south Kashmir accent. Elders of the area say that their forefathers had migrated from the Valley to the region.

The legislative assembly constituency of Gool is divided into two belts, Gool and Arnas. Arnas is predominantly Gujjar and Gool is mostly Kashmiri speaking belt.

Sources revealed to Kashmir Life that the majority of the relatives of injured by the BSF firing wished to shift them to Srinagar, instead of Jammu.

“We have some very bitter experience (in Jammu) so we wanted the injured to be taken to Srinagar, but it was not suitable at that time to insist,” the Sarpanch said.

There is a spiritual bond between Valleites and Jammuites except a limited area in Jammu comprised of not more than two and a half districts. “This bond is of faith, culture and ideology,” said Er Rashid.

There is a political affinity between both the regions as well. The Muslims living in Jammu division want the resolution of Kashmir dispute in a same way as the Kashmiri Muslim want and demand.

But even Er Rashid feels that the people living in Jammu division have not been taken into confidence. “Separatist and unionist political parties should take care of the people living in Jammu region who have never been taken into confidence by anyone,” Rashid said.

Around 55 kilometers from Ramban, Gool comprises of 17 large and small villages scattered along the high mountain slopes. However, the difficult geographical terrain has not prevented the authorities in managing drinking water for the people as it has been made available in all these villages by pipes.

The small town of Gool has a sparsely distributed population of around 40,000. Before it was carved out to be a part of the Ramban, Gool was in Udhampur, district.

mehboobaLocals say that Gool has seen worst of the armed insurgency. For quite some time, militants controlled the area in every respect.

Kidnapping of civilians by unknown gunmen and slitting their throats had been order of the day for some time in Gool. A village called Salballa with only 22 households once had 18 militants. It is said that more than 100 people belonging to the village got killed during the militant insurgency.

Ramban district consists of 3 blocks apart from Gool. They are Ramban, Banihal and Ramsoo.

Ramban town is located along river ‘Chenab’ river on Srinagar Jammu Highway at about 150 km from Jammu and about 150 km from Srinagar making it almost a central point on the Highway.

The central point of the state however has grievances with both the sides. Its inhabitants are not satisfied with the people calling themselves ‘the saviors’ of Jammu and they have complaints against those who claim to represent ‘the sentiment’.

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