Elderly man dies in queue waiting to submit old age form in Bandipora

Survived by 3 daughters, man lived in abject poverty
Elderly man dies in queue waiting to submit old age form in Bandipora
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Bandipora, Dec 20: On Tuesday morning, an elderly man tragically passed away while waiting in line to submit the old age pension form in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district shocking many at how elderly are made suffer.

He was identified as Sonuallh Bhat, 62 of Malangam village. Doctors said that he was received lifeless in the hospital’s emergency room at 10:00 am. “He has died of cardiopulmonary arrest,” Dr Mushtaq Medical Superintendent DH Bandipora told Greater Kashmir. As per the hospital records, Bhat didn’t respond and his vitals ran flat. It mentioned, “cardiopulmonary arrest is the cause of death.”

According to relatives, Bhat has three daughters and lived hard life doing manual labour. “He’d been visiting the social welfare office for three days,” his brother Mohammad Ramzan Bhat said. “He left home early in the bitter cold in the hopes of getting a turn, but it didn’t happen. So, on Tuesday, he left early again and died while waiting in line.”

On Tuesday, as mourners gathered at Bhat’s humble home, women sat huddled  outside in the lawn, some sobbing in grief over the tragedy that had befallen this family.

“It’s a tragedy that an elderly and poor person had to wait in line in this bone-chilling cold for some money to feed his family; it breaks our hearts,” some of the men gathered to mourn pointed out, some of whom were relatives.

The relatives vehemently appealed to the government to help his family, especially his daughters with some special package to uplift their lives.

At the Tehsil Social Welfare office, (TSWO) in Bandipora where this incident occurred, people are dejected and point out the hardships elderly people have to face to fill out the formalities.

“There are elderly people and specially-abled who can not travel or walk long distances and wait for endless hours to sit in line. It is requested that teams are dispatched to villages or Panchayats to make it easy for them,” a local Abdul Majeed Dar said.

For specially-abled Zahoor Ahamd and his blind friend, the travel to the office is hectic. “First, we couldn’t locate the office in the mini secretariat and had to travel further in search of this office before coming in a bus from Quil Muqam village.” “It’s very very difficult,” he sighed.

“It’s unfortunate whatever happened today,” a junior official of the Social welfare office Tahir Ahamd said. “The senior citizen had come early before the office timing in the chilling cold as we all are aware of.”

He said that these all formalities were being done under the “governments re-verification” process. He requested that “people must not panic and that there was still ample time left.” Moreover, he said there was no need for all people to come to the office but avail the facility at Khidmat centres too.

Authorities version

A person collapsed today on 20th Dec, 2022 at around 09:00 AM, in the premises of office of Tehsil Social Welfare Officer, Bandipora, who was rushed to District Hospital, Bandipora, where doctor(s) on duty declared him “Brought Dead”. The person was later on identified as Sonaullah Bhat S/o Ghulam Hassan Bhat R/o Malangam Bandipora, aged around 62 years.

In this regard, this is to clarify that Old Age Pension applicants are not required to submit hard copies of their verification and only applicants lacking any formality or having any kind of issues are contacted through control room for necessary rectifications which can be done at CSC(s). In this case, the applicant was not required to visit the office of Tehsil Social Welfare Officer Bandipora to submit hardcopy nor was he called to visit CSC.

Moreover, in order to ascertain all related aspects of the case, an enquiry has been ordered which shall be conducted by Additional District Development Commissioner, Bandipora and the findings of the same shall be shared in due course of time.

Furthermore, Old Age Pension applicants are requested not to visit the Office(s) of Social Welfare Department unnecessarily and may contact the District Control Room for any assistance on (01957-225322/7006526985/ 7006741492).

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