I was born in a small village called „Muhri‟, in the year 1978 near the Line of Control in Kupwara District. The village takes its name from the word „Moori‟ which is a poisonous herb, found in Shamshabari Ranges. Since then the name of this place is known „Moori‟ & over a period time it has been changed „Muhri‟. Being a remote border area, in the early years, facilities such as electricity, tap water, toilets and the life which people have in a small town were nonexistent. However, now the road winds over Kalaruch, Nagsari, Narikot and Muhri village and further connects Sonapindi Gali through tracks. These remain cut-off for approximately six months in a year due to heavy snowfall, during which all movement perforce have to be carried out on foot.
When I was born, medical facilities in the Muhri village were non existent. We had no access to television or even a radio and the few primary level schools in Kalaruch that existed were non-functional, with teachers rarely making any appearance. Job opportunities were scarce, and the local people depended on agriculture and forest produce to make a living. Because of insurgency, no development took place in the entire area over a large span of time. The little development which was taking place also came to a total standstill due to the fear of terrorists and ongoing instability in Kashmir Valley back in the day.
Militants would regularly come across the border through the mountain passes of Sonapindi Gali into the border area villages to go across to other parts of Jammu and Kashmir especially Lolab and Kupwara. And as the militant movement increased, the Army was deployed to prevent it. We were afraid of the militants because they carried guns but the Army was a source of comfort. The first signs of development started emerging with the arrival of Security Forces in the area. The changes came in slowly, but every small change made a difference to the people in the area. Schools became functional, teacher‟s attendance improved and the mud road from Kalaruch to Muhri, was repaired and upgraded to all weather roads. Due to heavy snowfall, this road could be used for only six months in a year but that was an important achievement. Now the road has been extended all the way upto Sonapindi Gali though not all weather, but has made life much more bearable & comfortable.
By the end of 1994, the Security Forces started providing medical aids. It was the first time when Sub District Health (SDH) Centres came in the village itself. Over the years, the hospital has grown with tremendous support from the Army and the civil administration. This is a welcome departure from earlier times when a sick patient had to be carried on a stretcher to Kupwara, the nearest district hospital. Now, even in winters, it is a source of comfort to the people that a hospital is available in „Muhri‟ to provide emergency medical aids. As critical care is provided immediately, scores of lives have been saved over the years. Medical aids is given regularly by the Army to Gujjars and Bakarwals who come right from Rajouri and Naushera along with their livestock and stay in Dhoks. This has been extremely helpful as the nomads are also made aware of health related issues such as hygiene and sanitation, child development through regular informal interactions by medical staff of Army.
Today after almost two and half decades, we too, living in the remote corners of India want to be part of the development efforts and contribute our share to the Nation. The Army has made it possible for us now by improving schools, connecting villages through roads and bridges and providing medical care. I remember my childhood days and the difficulty we had to reach our school. Even in the extreme weather conditions, Army and civil administration are working hand in hand to provide seamless transport facilities.
With successful operations against the infiltrating terrorists, peace has been largely restored in the borders area villages. This has resulted in enhancing skills and employability of many youth in the area like me. Moreover, equal opportunities for skill development are also provided to the women in the area. Today girls of my village have started contributing towards their home income by weaving carpets. Local units in Muhri and Sonapindi Gali have always provided us safe environment to work and earn fearlessly.
There are many such stories of young people like me who have been empowered to become productive citizens and contribute to the community and to the country. I am thankful that in a remote corner of our great country, the Army has helped to change the lives of so many people. Through this short conversation, I take this opportunity on behalf of my village friends and convey our sincere gratitude to the brave soldiers of the Indian Army, who helped us in transforming our lives.
Said Rehman Tass middle aged man from „Muhri‟ village carries profession of Primary School Master from last 20 years who has narrated his story with passion. “It was through the initiatives taken by the Army that I received two knitting machines through Operation Sadbhavana Project in the year of 1994 by the Army unit 2 RAJ RIF, then deployed in Sonapindi Gali and could start a decent job of knitting and weaving caps (Balaclavas) & Socks for locals at a reasonable and affordable price. There are many like me who have similarly benefitted from this initiative and have motivated many other individuals”.