Sopore town which is popularly known as ‘Apple Town’ was also once called as Chotta London, being the business hub of North Kashmir. But this town is now one of the most neglected towns of Kashmir division. Thanks to the government’s biased attitude towards it.
Sopore has produced great personalities in the field of Education, Art, Literature, Politics and so on. A number of eminent doctors and educationists who are now settled in Srinagar or abroad belong to this heritage rich town. The people of Sopore were called as Zinda-Dilani Sopore – (People With Pulsating Heart). But due to apathy and negligence of administration the town is now in shambles. Sopore was also famous for three R’s – which stand for Radee, Rabb, Rupyi (carts, mud and money).Though first two Rs are still abundantly available in the town but the third R has gone down due to many reasons.
Sopore was also famous for “ا ب ت ” that stands for– Anim, Bulla and Trumboo. These are the famous business families of the town, though most of them are settled in Srinagar now.Other business tycoons of the town include Ab. Samad Pandit, Ameerudin Pukhta, Wali Muhammad Shah, Qadir Joo Janwari. Some famous politicians who belonged to Sopore include Late Hakeem Habibullah, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Late Hisamudin Vakil, Gh. Rasool Kar, Maulana Mohd Yaseen Masoodi, Sofi Muhammad Akbar, Abdul Ahad Vakil.
Famous doctors from Sopore include Late Dr. Abdul Ahad Guru, Dr. Muhammad Sultan Khuru, Dr. Fayaz Ahmad Kanwal, Dr. Shariq Masoodi and Dr Mohd Ramzan Sofi. Great educationist of Kashmir Late Atiqa Bano also belonged to Sopore. Saifudin Saifi, Muhammad Amin Shakib , Pandit Trilokinath, Gh. Hassan Qadri , Gh. Nabi Masoodi and Pandit Ved Lal are some other great Educationists from Sopore.
Sopore has also produced some religious scholars such as Maulana Mufti Noordudin, Maam Saeb (Gh. Mohd Kirmani), Molvi Ghulam Hassan, Molvi Bashirudin Qasmi, Maulana Ghulam Muhammad Makhdoomi and so on. Sopore has also been famous for its Sufi Saints like Ahad Bab, Lasse Bab, Habib Joo Rawa, Ama Joo Guknoo and Raje Maech.
Presently the town is facing much crises. Bad and congested roads is the biggest problem in the town at present. The roads are same as decades ago but the traffic has increased many folds. Seeing a traffic cop on duty to streamline the traffic in Sopore town is a pipe dream. Worst hit areas include Main Chowk, Iqbal Market, General Bus stand, Police Station, Shah Faisal Market. Once stuck in traffic jam it can take hours to come out of it at places like Hathishah and Bandipora road (near Chinkipora).There is not a single parking lot in the whole town. Shoppers are left with no option but to leave theirs vehicles in front of their shops or in small lanes adding to the miseries of the commuters.Road encroachment by shopkeepers and roadside vendors adds more inconvenience to the general public. Person on foot hardly get a space to move on. Age old tongas create traffic jams and also make the town more unhygienic with horse dung. There is no concept of zebra crossing and signals in the town. There are no street lights on the major crossings or roads. Old lights if any are all defunct. Former CM of Kashmir Late Mufti Syed approved one crore for upgrading the lighting system in the town and for other purposes when he visited this town. But till date Sopore didn’t see a penny utilised for development.
Thieves are on prowl in the town. Everyday there is some news of burglary in the town and police has completely failed to curb this menace. Traders often allege that police is not taking this issue seriously. Same is the story of drug dealers. Every now and then some drug dealers are caught with drugs or banned medicines. But there has been no concrete plan by authorities to eradicate the drug menace in town.
Bypass bridge that was completed in a period of 25 years is finally functional but the condition of the bridge is so poor that it has become a nuisance for the travellers. Moreover the traffic mess is horrible at Fruit Mandi and Noorbagh crossing.
Power scenario in town is inadequate and unscheduled. Even metered areas have frequent power cuts even in summers. And during winters there is no difference between metered and non metered areas as both suffer badly. Drinking water scarcity is almost in all the colonies of the town. Even if some areas are getting drinking water as per schedule, the water seems to be completely without proper filtration.
One can notice huge heaps of garbage in main markets and roads as there is no particular place for dumping the garbage. This makes the roads and streets stinky and the commuters have to suffer. Same is the problem of drainage system in most of the colonies and water logging is a big issue for the residents. Historic Zaingeer canal is dying a silent death. It’s all filled up with filth and garbage and the concerned irrigation department is turning a blind eye towards it. It is a major source of irrigation for the agricultural land in the town but now it is serving the purpose of a sanitation drainage canal. The much hyped slogan of Swatch Bharat seems to be utter failure in this apple town. General public is left with no option but to urinate in roads and streets. Adding to the unhygienic state of the town.
The growing stray dog population is one more menace in this unfortunate town. Parents are afraid to let their kids roam outside homes or in streets due to these stray dogs. A number of dog bite cases have been registered in SDH Sopore till now and Sopore MC is least bothered about this issue.
There is no public park, Library or a children’s park in town. The only sports stadium in Sopore is also in shambles. Youth have very less opportunities for outdoor recreational activities.
Fruit Mandi Sopore is the Asia’s second largest fruit Mandi but it lacks the basic facilities and is underdeveloped. There is no proper parking for the trucks with the result there is a huge traffic issue on the Mandi road.
BSNL exchange is in the worst state of affairs. Landlines remain dead for months and there is nobody to listen the woes of customers. High Speed Broadband is a dream for the subscribers inspite of paying hefty bills every month.
In recent times Joint Director Education North Kashmir office was established in Sopore town but due to some political reasons the office was shifted to Baramulla and people of sopore were left again in deep anger and despair. As the District Baramulla got a Government Medical College now and has its own associated hospital so it is an opportunity for the town to get a District Hospital. Though there is a proposal for the same but again the political and administrative apathy may deprive Sopore from getting a District Hospital.
Trade bodies of Sopore have been meeting various concerned officials and were promised many projects and developments but all has been a utter failure on ground.
It is high time for the people of Sopore to unite and fight for their basic rights. All the local bodies including civil society groups and NGOs must play a positive role to take the grievances of general public to higher authorities. And the administration also should shun its biased behaviour towards people of Sopore and finally work for the development of the town.
May Allah Bless our town Sopore and may our future generations see a developed town.