Key Kashmir town faces neglect for its ‘pro- freedom stance’

Once Chota London , now Sopore stinks

Key Kashmir town faces neglect for its ‘pro- freedom stance’Once a jostling and prosperous town, North Kashmir’s Sopore now narrates a sordid tale of “ deliberate” official neglect.

From bad roads to shabby infrastructure, the apple- town of Jammu and Kashmir is a classic example of underdevelopment. While other parts of the state have witnessed some growth in terms of infrastructure, this place has faced neglect for its “ pro- freedom stance,” locals say.

Sopore was once known as Chota London for its prosperity.

But now the town which houses Asia’s second largest Fruit Mandi is littered with garbage as the town has no dumping site. While the garbage is adding to the nuisance, the underdeveloped roads and illegal encroachment of footpaths further adds to the chaos.

“ There is a deliberate attempt going on to subvert development of Sopore as the town is the birthplace of separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and its populace has openly expressed its pro- freedom stance. The town has now become a slum which lacks even basic amenities,” said President, Sopore Traders Federation, Muhammad Ashraf Ganai.

Nobody from the official side is ready to listen to our pleas and that is evident from the situation on ground, markets which once were bustling with trade activities have now become a dumping ground with stink and foul smell emanating from the garbage heaps lying unattended on roadsides,” said Ganai.

He accused the authorities of meting out step- motherly treatment towards the traders and residents of Sopore. “ Our problem is that we have never been taken seriously and at official meetings we are mocked at for our sentiments. The drainage network is in such mess that pits are visible across the length and breadth of the town. “ In real sense the town is without drainage and sewerage network, said Ishtiyaq Ahmad, General Secretary, Traders Federation.

The traders and apple growers allege that they are being  targeted for belonging to Sopore which has been active in pro- freedom struggle. Any transporter importing material from outside the state is being harassed by Sales Tax sleuths at Lakhanpur toll post, says Convener of Sopore Traders Federation, Muhammad Shafi, adding that the traders are now fed up with this harassment that they are ready to shun their ancestral trade.

The fruit growers and dealers said that the fruit mandi was macadamized last year. But within three months the blacktopping got damaged.