The fabled Jhelum is breathing its last. And we are sitting on the dykes, with our hands folded leisurely, watching it die every day. Unfortunately we are part of the generation that has happily presided over its extended funeral. This river, which runs like a harmless snake through our vale, has been the source of our joys and part of our sorrows too. The river that was once part of our folk lore and culture is now chocked to the extent that it invokes no emotions other than pity. But should we pitying at all? Isn’t its present condition culmination of our avaricious outlook towards our day-to-day lives we so conveniently pass on as modernisation!
Ironically the present generation of ours that boosts of its modernity and a world filled with gadgets that can look beyond skies, has failed to see what lies in front of their eyes. This generation is void of any emotions that would have made them enjoy the bounties of nature bestowed upon them by God. And Jhelum is one such bounty that previous generations preserved and nurtured for sake of generations to come. They had such a sense of affinity with this river that polluting it was equal to committing highest degree of sin. There were myths and stories associated with this river in order to evoke a sense of sanctity among dwellers occupying its shores. And these dwellers would uphold this rivers sanctity with utmost reverence at all costs. During those good old days, this river in its pristine glory would fulfil all day-to-day needs of people living inside this vale. It was one of the cheapest means of transporting goods from one place to another. It was also main source of water for thousands of households living on the either side of its banks. But never ever did it occur to these households to turn Jhelum into a free flowing dustbin, as it has been turned lately. Even during Maharaja’s brutal rule river Jhelum was saved from ruthlessness of an unpopular ruler. Interestingly Maharaja has banned any construction on its bunds and has helped strengthen the same from time to time. He was probably aware that the only way to keep Jhelum happy is to let it flow uninterruptedly.
But if we look at Jhelum’s present condition then it has shrunken to such a level that it resembles any filthy nallah or stream. There is nothing like river left in Jhelum now. Over the years thousands of houses were build on its bunds, inside the basin itself, on the land that was part of its extended course, to stop it from flowing naturally. And one day this river said enough is enough and came back hunting the people who have contributed in its demise. And the day is now part of our memory. It is September 7, 2014.