Gauri Healthy heart project as a part of its remote district commitment of “No Heart Attack Mission-2025” is currently engaged in its Mission in the village Tangdar, North Western Kashmir.
This village in Tehsil Karna is located at a distance of 67 Kms from the district headquarter Kupwara. It is on the line of control (LOC) with Neelam valley to its north and Leepa valley to its south.
It is surrounded by Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) on 3 sides and is frequently in news because of cease fire violations and cross border infiltrations. As per the census of 2011 it has a population of 5634 of which 2969 are males, with a male: female ratio of 1.2:1.
The percentage of population of children below 6 years was 20%. Most people speak Urdu, Pahari and a small number Kashmiri language.
Although a scenic place, it is not on the tourist map. This is because of the proximity to the LOC. A prior permission is required by residents from outside the UT from the SP office Kupwara. The road from Kupwara is very good with trees lined on both the sides and peaks of snow-covered mountains and streams crossing on the way.
One has to cross Kralpora, Panzgam, Warsun and continue on Kupwara-Trehgam road. There are 2 Army check posts, one just after Warsun and the 2nd at Sadhna top. This top is at a height of around 10,000 ft after driving through more than 10 hairpin bends.
It gives a panoramic view of all the neighbouring mountain ranges, many of them in POK. This area has reported many traffic mishaps including deaths. The Tangdar valley can be seen from the top. The valley has lot of pines and streams flowing through it.
There is one Dak Bungalow which is well maintained. Javed, the caretaker, is very hospitable and ever helpful. He always requests that he should be informed at least a few days before reaching there.
Teetwal, another town bang on the LOC is 14 kms from Tangdar passing through Dildar Karnah, Chitterkote and finally Dringla. The drive to Teetwal is totally unspoilt beauty with green farm lands like a huge green bowl. It is the last border village on the Indian side, separated from the POK by the Kishan Ganga River (also called Neelam).
Before the partition of India, it was on the trading route map of Kashmir valley, with hundreds of shops selling ghee, honey, walnut kernels etc. These would come from Karnah, Leepa and Neelam valleys. Today it is a highly guarded border.
As per an agreement signed in 1949 between India and Pakistan, no construction is permitted within 500 yards of the Zero line on the LOC. India has constructed a 3-tiered Anti-Infiltration obstacle System (AIOS).
One is also reminded of the Urdu short story by Saadat Hasan Manto “Teetwal ka Kutta”. Manto was a Punjabi writer of Kashmiri origin born in Ludhiana but migrated to Lahore, Pakistan in 1947.
The story is about a dog who travelled between Indian and Pakistani sides of Teetwal carrying around his neck a cardboard piece on which humorous messages about his given names were scribbled by the soldiers. It was ultimately shot at by soldiers of both the sides sequentially meeting a proverbial “dog’s death”
Life in Tangdar:
This remote area has abject poverty and lack of several basic facilities despite the administration trying to improve the condition. The sub-district hospital has good infra structure but lack of permanent staff, and importantly the medicines are in shortages.
The caretaker of the Dak Bungalow, who spoke to me confided that the town is full of spurious medicines. Despite a structure there, residents have to go to Srinagar even for minor problems. It is far away not only in distance but also beyond the budget of these poor families.
The contractors working under the MGNREGA scheme give a pittance to the labour employed by them for the National rural employment guarantee scheme. There is shortage of milk and necessary commodities. There is a higher secondary school and a degree college but only small numbers utilise it. Lack of awareness is the major issue.
As per Dr Major Harleen Kaur, working as a RMO in the 9-para field Unit, who spoke to me, malnutrition in the children is common. Somehow the custom is to drink very little water and dehydration, kidney stones and urinary infections are very frequently seen . Very high salt intake in the village leads to high blood pressure which is again rampant in the area.
With her cooperation GKF has been able to identify 100 patients with multiple problems like high blood pressure, diabetes and related diseases. All of them were brought to Srinagar and fully investigated at the Gauri Heart Centre.
The tests included full medical examination, detailed biochemistry, ECG, Echo cardiography and stress testing wherever indicated. They all have been prescribed generic medicines and supplied by the foundation.
All these activities have been funded by a grant given to us by the corporate social responsibility fund of a well-known pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
This is an ongoing project and the author will be conducting a camp in Tangdar seeing the progress of the patients who have been put on treatment after the investigations. The camp also would have a public education talk and a continuing medical education program for the local doctors.
The remote towns of the Kashmir valley, especially those close to the LoC, have several important issues facing them. These include poverty, lack of awareness, malnutrition and poor support systems.
These places which have abundant natural beauty continue to be in a state of neglect. Small steps are being taken to help them bring into the mainstream but much more is needed. One such area is Tangdar village in Kupwara district.
Author is Founder Director Gauri Kaul foundation, Recipient Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy Award
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.