I am the erstwhile District Baramulla. I was cut twice into three fragments; District Baramulla, District Kupwara and District Bandipora under the pretext of development and prosperity. With this hope and being famous for the tourist resorts like Gulmarg, Khilanmarg, Lolab Chiternar and Bosian, Wullar Lake, Mansbal Lake and Alpather Lake, religious places like Ziarat Syed Jambaz Wali, Baba Payam-ud-Din Reshi and Gurdwara Chati Padshahi, flourishing fruit industry and thick forests, I proudly named myself North Kashmir. But to my ill luck, I am the most neglected region in the state. The researchers are not inclined to discover the Nature's gifts embedded in my chest. Political leaders and social activists have turned their back towards me. My water bodies, having huge potential of producing hydroelectricity, have been sold, my green forests and minor forest produce, the rich source of herbal wealth, are being plundered, my agriculture and horticulture products are poisoned by the spurious pesticides and fertilizers, my river banks, lakes, ponds, parks and roads are encroached and made dumping sites for garbage and my environment is polluted day and night.
History is a witness to the fact that in the primitive past, the entire trade between Kashmir and Punjab would take place through Jehlum-Valley (Baramulla-Rawalpindi) road, and my people were prosperous and enjoyed a rich socio-economic and cultural status in the state. Among all my towns, Baramulla Town, first established by Raja Bhimsina in around 2306 BC, was the most important seat of learning. It was also famous for the Santonian and Match Factories first established by one Raja Upinder Krishan Sharma, a relative of Maharaja Hari Singh, and the saw mill run by State Forest Department which would supply wooden sleepers for Indian railways and rifle and pistol buts for the Ordinance Factories
But partition of the State inflicted untold miseries on my people. I was transformed into border region and all spots of my valuable land were occupied by army and security forces leaving no scope for my expansion and progress.
Restoration of trade between the two parts of Kashmir and development of railway link between Qazigund and Baramulla in the beginning of this century appeared to give a fillip to my trade and economy but no visible progress has been noticed in this direction. Unfortunately the people at the helm of affairs have remained averse to me. The then and the present Chief Minister and the Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Waqf Board established Islamic University in his South Kashmir. My people are desperately asking the Waqf Board to establish Islamic University against the huge donations (Nazer-u- Niaz) plundered by it from the Ziarat Baba Payam-ud-Din Reshi, Ziarat Syed Jambaz Wali, and other Ziarats to provide equal opportunity of engineering and academic courses to my youth. They do not afford to pursue courses of their choice outside the state and therefore most of them remain unemployed and either fall prey to social evils or take recourse to undesirable activities.
The central government had sanctioned AIMs for Kashmir and IIM for Jammu Province. Subsequently IIT was sanctioned for Jammu Division. They prevailed upon the central government and made it sanction AIMS in their favour in addition to IIT and IIM but the political leadership in Kashmir does not demand for IIT and IIM lest their masters in Delhi are annoyed. The momentous scheme of selecting Baramulla Town under J&K Urban Sector Development Investment Sector Programme to develop it as a model Town has fallen prey to political rivalry. Alas! All this discrimination is taking place under the nose of my two political heavy weights' and they do not even do lip service to give healing touch to my agonies!
Now the Academic and Social Concerns Forum" (ASCF), Baramulla, an amalgamation of various religious, social and trade organizations, has tried to draw attention of the state administration towards upgrading North Campus of Kashmir University to full-fledged university, establishment of Islamic University in North Kashmir, up gradation of District Hospital Baramulla to Super-specialty institute, development of infrastructure for establishment of already sanctioned Medical College in the District Hospital Campus Baramulla, to expedite widening of National Highway Road from Khaja Bagh to Khanpora and to manage waste disposable mechanism on priority basis. Now the question arises, should my people look for transformation of their dreams to reality?
(Prof Muhammad Ismail is Former College Principal)