Ring Zabal: A poorly known area of Kashmir needing attention

Gauri Old Age Mission (GOAM), under the leadership of Prof U Kaul, went to Ring Zabal for a day long Healthy Heart Camp for senior citizen on Friday the 16th July
Ring Zabal: A poorly known area of Kashmir needing attention
Representational ImageSource: Darko Stojanovic from Pixabay


Ring Zabal is the last village in the western direction of Tehsil Khan Sahab of Budgam district. It earned its name from the delicate shah-toas/Shahtoosh shawls which could pass through a ring; coming from this village and the neighbouring areas of Khan Sahab district. Zabal word can be found in many languages including German and Spanish. The most appropriate meaning for Zabal in the context of Ring Zabal would be generous and talented in the field of art.

This remote part of the Tehsil, Khan Sahab, 28 kms from the district headquarter Budgam which, is 45 kms from the capital of Kashmir, Srinagar. The village of Ring Zabal is also close to Baramulla and Sopore by a trekking route. It is of a medium size with total 163 families residing with a population of 1124 of which 604 are males as per Population Census 2011. In this village population of children with age 0 to 6 is 268 which makes up 23.84 % of total population of village. Average Sex Ratio of Ring Zabal village is 861 which is lower than of Jammu and Kashmir which has an average of 889. Low sex ratio usually indicates unfairness to the girl child.

Ring Zabal village has lower literacy rate compared to other parts of Jammu and Kashmir. In 2011, literacy rate of Ring Zabal village was 26.87 % compared to 67.16 % of Jammu and Kashmir. Male literacy stands at 35.56 % while female literacy rate was 16.58 %. There is a primary and Upper Primary school run by Education department in Ring Zabal and another similar school in the neighbourhood Kunzabal Ringzabal school. There is a private school “Ever green” which attracts lots of children from the area.

The village is administrated by Sarpanch (Head of Village) who is an elected representative of village. The people are a mix of few Kashmiri speaking locals, Gujjar and Bakerwals who migrate out during summer in order to graze their cattle in upper reaches of Pir Panjal.

Gauri Old age Mission (GOAM) under the leadership of Prof U Kaul, went with a team to ring Zabal for a one-day Healthy Heart Camp for senior citizen on Friday the 16th July. The road from Badgam to Arizal, is good but once the route to Ring Zabal starts it becomes a kuccha road which is very bumpy. The local health authorities headed by the Block Medical Officer, Dr Arshad H Qadri and his team helped us immensely to carry out our activities. We found that Gujjars, especially elderly people turned out in large numbers. The bakarwal community as expected had migrated to the heights for grazing their sheep and cattle.

We were able to evaluate 90 persons who had registered to see us. Some of the striking findings were absence of obesity and a low body weight. Blood pressure (B P), blood sugar estimation and an electrocardiogram were recorded in all. High BP and diabetes as seen in other parts of the valley in high numbers, was not an issue except in very few persons who happened to be of Kashmiri speaking descent. However almost all the participants who registered had problems of low back ache and body pains. These we ascribe to climbing on inclines for hours and a bad posture. This would be coupled with vitamin D deficiency and low calcium levels. Their diet in general is deficient in calories, proteins, iron and calcium. Their women folk are especially prone to severe nutritional deficiencies especially iron deficiency anaemia. In addition, because of several child births in quick succession they are not in good health. Their life style however being very hectic makes them prone to several medical problems.

We did electrocardiograms (ECG’s) for all the participants. In general, they were normal but 4 persons had classical ECGs of previous heart attacks and had no clue of this although all had classical symptoms of shortness of breath. We made them aware of this fact and prescribed appropriate medicines with supply for 30 days and counselled them to see us at Gauri Heart Centre, Srinagar for further evaluation as per our GOAM protocol. This would be free of cost.

Availability of even simple drugs like paracetamol and nutritional supplements is a challenge in this area unlike most other parts of the valley. The area because of a difficult to access during harsh weather conditions adds to their woes.

Lessons Learnt:

The tribal areas in regions close to the centre of power are bereft of basic facilities of health care. Although non-communicable diseases are uncommon, they have issues like poor nutrition, communicable and deficiency diseases. The literacy rates being abysmally low contribute to these adversities. Women folk is especially the sufferer and needs the attention of the administration and the non-governmental organizations. This should be a priority, outcome-based area of research to improve the status of the population living there.

Prof Upendra Kaul is Founder Director Gauri Kaul Foundation, Recipient of Dr B C Roy Award and Padma Shri.

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