Homeless in Home District: Scores of families in Bandipora’s Shamthan return to roots after over 3 decades

After over three decades of long wait, scores of families in Bandipora’s Shamtahan are returning to their native village with a hope to live a peaceful life ahead.

These families were forced to leave the village after facing the severe impact of terrorism. All these years, they were living with their relations with some of them putting up in Kothas many kilometres away from their home. These families have been homeless in their own home district since 1990.

The village, which consists of 25 households, has now embarked on a journey to revive their long-deserted homes after two decades, with the hope of resuming peaceful lives in their ancestral dwellings, driven by the overall tranquillity that has prevailed in J&K over the past few years.

According to local residents, in the 1990s, when militancy was at its peak in Kashmir, the village suffered significant damage, traumatizing its residents and eventually forcing them to leave their homes for Dardpora village in Bandipora.

“We had been longing for the day when we could return to our homes and lead peaceful lives in our village and now that day has arrived. We have started to breathe life back into our long-neglected homes,” the local residents told the news agency-Kashmir News Observer (KNO). With a belief in the power of hope, the locals now wish to live peacefully in their homes, preserving their traditional culture for years to come.

“It felt like a race against time as we yearned for the day when our settlements would come back to life. We had our apprehensions due to the situation in the 1990s, but now with normalcy in Kashmir, we’ve returned to our decades-old homes, filled with cherished memories,” said an elderly resident, while speaking to KNO. “Returning here rekindles our childhood memories, and we’ll forever hold this land close to our hearts.”

Another villager said that “Even if you offer a person everything, asking him to leave his ancestral home is something he’ll never accept. We were no different; we yearned for the day to return. Our children yearn for a peaceful life ahead.”

However, he acknowledged the challenges the village faces, including the absence of road connectivity and healthcare facilities, despite having functional electricity. He also noted that while there is a school building, it remains non-operational.

Mohammad Subhan, a local resident of Dardpora village, welcomed the return of these residents to Shamthan after a three-decade absence. He urged the administration to take note of their challenges, including the lack of basic amenities, and provide comprehensive support to help them rebuild their lives.

He went on to mention that Shamthan village is in close proximity to Chota Amarnath, which was reopened on August 31 this year after a decade-long hiatus. He expressed that these positive developments are rekindling his childhood memories.

Meanwhile, other residents have also joined in appealing to the government for the construction of road connectivity to the area, along with the establishment of healthcare and education facilities.

Gulam Mohiuddin Rather, the District Development Council (DDC) representative for Arin Constituency, extended a warm welcome to the returning villagers and affirmed the administration’s commitment to addressing their concerns.

He noted, “During my recent visit to the village, I had the opportunity to hear their grievances. With the invaluable support of Deputy Commissioner Bandipora, Dr. Owais Ahmad, we are dedicated to advancing the village’s development.”—(KNO)